11/20/2013 07:05 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Painfully Terrible Plot Lines On TV Shows We Love


Inspired by an emotionally frustrated Reddit thread and some recent absurdity on "Scandal" (see below), we took a look at all of the story lines we hate on shows we love. It seems even the greatest series have the potential to be flawed by implausibility, ridiculousness and / or incest. Here are the seven seriously cringe-worthy plot developments from our favorite shows.

Arrested Development: Michael's love affair with Rita.


There is a ton of weird crap on "Arrested Development" that is ultimately hilarious because of the fastidiousness with which it is repeated. In a lot of ways, "Arrested" deals in the currency of awkwardness. But Rita's existence wasn't even just awkward, inside joke-y or absurd. It was unfunny and slightly disturbing. Knowing that Rita was not only disabled, but the mental equivalent of a pre-school age child made Michael's romantic feelings seriously uncomfortable (if not belittling to the mentally handicapped). Not even Franklin could save Charlize Theron in this role.

Homeland: Literally anything related to Dana Brody ... but mostly her running away with that fratricidal maniac.


Dana's grappling with her father's supposed terrorist status should render her sympathetic. But it doesn't. Something about her whining and the sleeves pulled up over her grubby hands is irreconcilably aggravating. "Homeland," in general, suffers from a lack of endearing characters, especially with the recent ambiguity in Saul's moral character. It is difficult enough to be patient with Carrie, as she acts on instinct and denies orders (on literally every mission). Watching Dana's belligerent road trip with her murderous rehab pal is like chewing on the razors she cuts herself with.

Girls: Hannah's spontaneous case of OCD.


Encountering mental illness with such brutal honesty was an admirably bold choice for Lena Dunham. Hannah's Q-tip incident shed light on some particularly grim aspects of OCD, functioning as far more than a superficially comedic tic. Yet, introducing Hannah's condition as surprising twist felt cheap. Yes, OCD spikes during stress. And yes, Hannah had a lot going on in her life that might have triggered the Q-tip episode. But she is also a girl that has a penchant for martyrdom and talks about herself almost non-stop. The fact that this wouldn't have come up before in, like, any of 800 conversations with Marnie is decidedly implausible.

Dexter: Deb's incestuous obsession with Dexter.


The only time incest has been done right is in "Cruel Intentions," and that wasn't even actual incest. Even though Dexter is not Deb's biological brother, the way they were raised and their current closeness as siblings made Deb's affection feel disgusting at a visceral level. Initially it seemed that Deb's romantic feelings might have been simply an uncomfortable suggestion by her therapist, perfectly capable of fading out of the show's consciousness. Yet, when she goes to the extent of confessing her love to Dexter, things go from complex to just terrible. In the words of Deb herself: "You’re a serial killer and I’m more fucked up than you are.”

Downton Abbey: The post-war arrival of the English Canadian patient.


I'm almost convinced that Julian Fellowes whipped out the mysterious-stranger-with-double-reverse-amnesia plot line, just in case watching a surprisingly accurate period drama was making American audiences feel too smart. If "Downton Abbey" is soapy, a heavily bandaged Patrick Gordon masquerading as Patrick Crawley returned from the dead (and entitled to his share of the inheritance) through an overly complex medical explanation is the sudsy equivalent of your dishwasher overflowing and flooding your entire town. Geez, Lady Edith blushing over their (completely made up) "childhood memories" is even aggravating in retrospect.

Scandal: Olivia's mother secretly still being alive / in prison.


The most compelling aspect of "Scandal" is that it maintains some level of plausibility even in its most complex government conspiracy plot threads. With the revelation that Olivia's mother was aboard the flight Fitz gunned down, things already felt a bit too conspicuously threaded together or, at least, more soapy than thrilling. Now, the fact that Olivia's mother is actually still alive, being kept in a tiny jail cell by her father is just too much to stomach. This is one "Scandal" plot line that could use fixing.

Grey's Anatomy: Denny Duqette coming back as Izzy's ghost lover.


As Reddit user pressuretobear put it "I think that the term 'jumping the shark' should be replaced by 'ghost orgasms.'" It was hard to stay emotionally invested in "Grey's" after Denny died, and though "Grey's" jumping the shark can be blamed on a number of absurdly melodramatic plot lines, the fallout of his death was definitively the worst of it. Previously the show had been overly dramatic in an appropriately soapy way. This felt like soap opera porn.



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