You might be excited to watch Halt and Catch Fire this summer. Maybe even Extant. But you're probably less excited to say "I'm watching Halt and Catch Fire" this summer, because let's be honest: it is a terrible title. Worse than Extant? If the ad campaign that CBS ran trying to educate fans on the definition of the word (like "extinct" ... only not!) are any indication, maybe not.
Look, we know it's hard to name things. Sometimes TV shows simply have unbearable names – even good shows. Halt and Catch Fire and Extant, while undeniably awkward and ill-advised choices, aren't the worst we've ever heard. But there are some show titles that are inexcusably terrible, all in their own way. So for your convenience, and their shame, we've broken them down by category.
It should be a general rule not to curse in a show title. Look, we're not a bunch of hand-wringing schoolmarms here. But here's the problem when you try to throw a curse word into your network TV sitcom: Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23. Here's what else: $#*! My Dad Says. Notice how the curse word doesn't survive but that the desperate flailing to be "edgy" does? The whole endeavor smacks of a 13-year-old trying to sneak a cigarette out back and getting caught by their mom. Besides, it's the kind of thing that leads to boycotts, and all for what? A few dashes to give the illusion of naughtiness? Save it for premium cable, guys.
Excessive Word Count
It's never a good sign when the number of words in a show's title (12) approaches the number of episodes it airs (13), but such is the case for How to Live With Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life). Seriously, even the acronym for this one is longer than some show titles; tacking words on does not make a show more interesting. And not even the will of Ryan Reynolds' Green Lantern could possibly overcome the cumbersome laundry list moniker of Two Guys, a Girl, and a Pizza Place, which eventually ditched the pizzeria and became the more tolerable (though not necessarily better) Two Guys and a Girl.
The Inanely Generic
On the other end, there are a lot of generic show titles, so short that they don't give any indication at all about the show. We'll give most of them a pass, but certain ones, just come on. Mom and Dads both premiered last fall, one short of a "parents, am I right?" trend (if only HTLWYP (FTROYL) made it to a second season). The problem here is if you tell someone "Don't worry I'm recording Mom," you sound kind of like a creep because no one will know you mean the show. The Job isn't much better, and could be anything from a dark crime thriller to a bad sex pun (it's actually a reality TV show). And then there's Go On. Rumors are Matthew Perry's next sitcom will be called Yes, And in which Perry plays a sarcastic improv instructor.
What Does This Even Mean?
Seriously, we don't know. Love Monkey is based on a book of the same name, apparently, but still, if you're going to adapt something called Love Monkey for television, you probably should adapt the name, too. Dirty Sexy Money seems to be the result of the laziest game of gritty TV Mad Libs, and The Tomorrow People is one of those "People liked the first season of Heroes, right?" names that sounds like the final project in a high school creative writing class.
Enough with the Punctuation
This category is the worst of the worst. The $treet was ahead of its time, but even Kesha figured out the ol' dollar sign instead of a capital-S trick is lame. We have adventures in ellipses with It's Like, You Know... (sorry, I do not) and I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here! (bonus exclamation mark). And then there's Oh Sit!. It has not only awkward punctuation, it's got a bad pun based on profanity, too. There were two full seasons of people saying "I'm watching Oh Sit!" Top it all off: it's a show about extreme musical chairs. Called Oh Sit!. Yeesh.
Futuristic Science Fiction
Sometimes you have to blame the concept for a bad title. Cleopatra 2525 and Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century are self-explanatory, but that doesn't mean their names aren't dumb (we'll cut Holmes a break since it's a kids show), and seaQuest DSV has awkward capitalization and makes zero sense to anyone that has not seen the show. There's being unique, and then there's being indecipherable.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.