It’s not easy being streamed. That was one of the lessons 2020 taught us, as the launches of several new services hit snags due to questionable, if unavoidable, decisions.
As TVLine compiled this year’s list of Dumb Things TV Did, it became clear that 2020 as a whole presented new and unique challenges for the industry, as the pandemic wreaked havoc on scheduling while also adding a new level of difficulty to certain shows that, some bigwigs decided, mayyyyybe weren’t worth renewing after all?
Also among this year’s highly questionable moves and mishaps, you have a spinoff announcement that totally spoiled the outcome of a potential cliffhanger, some really underwhelming reality-TV casting, The Mandalorian‘s answer to Game of Thrones‘ misplaced coffee cup, and the scheduling of a presidential town hall that should have not been up for debate.
And on a most serious note, at least one televised awards show attempted to take a step towards in-person, mask-less normalcy that was, arguably, premature.
For more of TV’s biggest gaffes of the year, check out our list below, and don’t forget to hit Comments to remind us of any bad decisions we may have missed.
Still ahead in our Year in Review: The Most Heartbreaking Character Deaths, Shocking Reality-TV Moments, the Coolest Scenes and much more!
QUIBI FAILS TO READ THE ROOM
Launching the mobile-only streamer during a global pandemic — remember, this service offered news and entertainment programs in 5-10 minute “quick bites” that were meant to be consumed on the go — was an ill-advised move. Even more short-sighted was the decision not to have a casting option built into the app. As a result, subscribers couldn’t Airplay content to their large-screen smart TVs or connected OTT devices while stuck at home, as we all were.
Absolute kudos for pulling off a season during a pandemic and all, but some of Big Brother‘s returning houseguests were more like small stars than all-stars. With Kevin’s incessant whining and David’s lack of game knowledge taken into consideration (he needed the veto competition explained to him!), we should have taken their odd casting as an ominous warning for the utter disappointment that BB22 would become.
NEW STREAMERS HANDICAP THEIR LAUNCHES
When HBO Max and Peacock bowed earlier this year, those with Roku and Amazon Fire streaming devices were fresh out of luck. Neither fledgling streamer was available via those services at launch, which made them less desirable for a large swath of the consumer market. To this day, Peacock remains unavailable on Fire TV devices (!), while HBO Max is unavailable on Roku (!!) — a respective five and seven months after launch.
SO. MANY. UN-RENEWALS!
Whether due to COVID-related delays and protracted (read: more costly) production schedules — or maybe some other reason entirely — “un-renewing” series that seemingly had a future became the “thing” to do this fall. (We even listed them all here!) GLOW, Stumptown and The Society were but a few of the shows to suddenly realize that their last episode was, in fact, the last episode.
HBO MAX-IMUM CONFUSION!
When HBO Max launched in May, many subscribers had no idea whether or not they were automatically enrolled. That’s because WarnerMedia made it extremely difficult for the consumer to distinguish between regular HBO… HBO Go (which HBO cable subscribers received, free of charge)… HBO Now (a standalone HBO service for the cable-averse, which was essentially HBO Max minus the rest of the Warner Bros. library, for the same price as HBO Max)… and HBO Max.
Two months after Max’s less-than-stellar launch, WarnerMedia shuttered HBO Go and HBO Now to lessen confusion, but the damage had already been done.
Even though the broadcast networks entered the Fall TV season frightfully low on inventory due to pandemic-related shutdowns, we still saw shows such as Grey’s Anatomy, S.W.A.T. and SEAL Team forge ahead with double-episode season openers, while CBS burned through the acquired One Day at a Time‘s already truncated fourth season in a matter of three weekly bursts.
WALKING DEAD NEWS KILLS SUSPENSE
The Season 10 “fauxnale” of The Walking Dead included what was meant to be a nail-biter of a scene in which it appeared that original cast member Melissa McBride’s beloved Carol might tumble off a cliff along with a horde of walkers. But it wasn’t even remotely suspenseful, because d’oh! The network couldn’t wait till after the episode had aired to reveal that the character was central to an in-the-works spinoff.
SOCIALLY DISTANCED SERIES
The way that NBC’s Connecting, Freeform’s Love in the Time of Corona and Netflix’s Social Distance — all series that were conceived during the real-world quarantine and then hurried through production and onto our screens — failed to make a blip on anyone’s radar suggested that viewers preferred some distance from the video-chatting world we now live in.
INDOOR CMA AWARDS SHIRK MASKS
ABC’s choice to broadcast an indoors, largely unmasked singing event in front of a live audience, no matter how many safety precautions were taken, was irresponsible (not to mention terrible optics) as COVID-19 rates continued to rise across the country.
In fact, country music superstar Charley Pride died from the coronavirus on Dec. 12, one month after attending the awards show; the CMA has since issued a statement assuring that “strict testing protocols” were followed.
NBC'S ELECTION SEASON COUNTER-PROGRAMMING
When President Trump, who was fresh off a positive COVID diagnosis, balked at the “virtual” nature of his second debate with challenger Joe Biden and thus declined to participate, NBC News agreed to give POTUS a primetime town hall forum — airing directly opposite Biden’s own ABC town hall, which had been announced a week prior. The programming choice (and it was a choice) forced voters to pick who to hear from, and drew the publicly voiced ire of many of the Peacock’s top-level talent. (Perhaps as a “make good,” NBC News sent in Savannah Guthrie ready to rumble.)
POP GOES THE NETWORK
The basic cable network got out of the scripted series game just as A) One Day at a Time’s fourth season was taking off, and B) Schitt’s Creek was generating serious awards buzz. As a result, the network had zero scripted series left to build on its momentum after Schitt’s Creek swept the Emmys in September, with its final season.
THE MANDALORIAN'S TERRAN BLOOPER
In what has been likened to Game of Thrones‘ infamous Coffee Cup Blooper, the fourth episode of The Mandalorian‘s second season somehow was filmed and then went through multiple layers of post-production without anyone realizing that a crew member in a T-shirt and jeans was visible to Carl Weathers’ right. (Disney+ promptly erased the errant individual, but not before a clever fan imagined “Jeans Guy” as an action figure.)