Commenters and critics will yell at me that there are a ton of other shows that have much better first seasons to watch on Netflix than the ones I’ve indicated below. But my point for writing this article is to say that you should ONLY watch the first season of these shows, and then just move on to another series because the rest of the seasons were just bad — or in the case of “24,” just not close to as good as Season 1.
There are tons of reasons why a show will start off great, only to see it take a nosedive down in quality, character development and, eventually, ratings.
Why Do Some Shows Stink After the First Seasons?
I actually have a few theories about this.
1. A Character Can Only Be Introduced Once
You’ll never be introduced to Walter White again after that first episode. You’ll know him from then on, and it’s up to the writers and producers to make the rest of the story better, once you understand just who White is and what you can expect from him.
2. Writing Staffs Get Pilfered
One thing Hollywood loves is replication. So one show or network will try to steal the writers of shows that have sudden success because they are usually cheap, and they hope they can bring that same success to whatever vehicle they’re tying them to. The second and third seasons won’t have the same group of writers, usually, as that first season.
3. Executives Like To Add Their Fingerprints
When a show is a sudden success, network executives suddenly want to get involved in it after Season One, so that they can say they had a hand in its success. Unfortunately, many times, the very reason the show’s first season was so successful was because the network didn’t really care about it.
4. Success Breeds Contempt
When a TV show has a popular first season, especially if it’s an unexpected success, critics begin to tear it down and producers begin to listen to it. This ends up inevitably changing the structure of the show, which ruins it for the early fans.
5. Success Pushes the Target Further Down the Line
Most shows get cancelled before they even reach the network, so the odds of a show being aired, surviving cuts, drawing an audience and getting re-upped for a second and third season are very slim. In the beginning, the show’s writers have a beginning, and usually an end, in mind. They might have a loose idea of what could happen in the middle, but nothing is concrete because no one wants to write an entire series if they think the odds are it will be cancelled. Once it’s successful and it’s apparent that it could even be a show that makes it to Season 5 or 6, then the ending gets pushed farther and farther back.
Writers then have to create some plots for the middle of the series, introduce some new characters and hope to keep us entertained for as long as possible, before they have to pay off with the ending. Think about how “Lost” started and ended, and then how the middle seasons were essentially unnecessary. You can probably think of several shows like that.
4 Must-Watch First Seasons on Netflix
Like I said, there are plenty of great shows that have much better first seasons on Netflix than the ones I mentioned below, but these were particularly good — compared to their follow-up seasons.
My recommendation to you, if you haven’t seen these shows, is to watch the first season of each show — then abandon the series and keep a good taste in your mouth forever after. Don’t become like the rest of us, who sat through season after season of a show slowly slipping in quality, hoping every year that it would get better.
When we first met Jack Bauer back in 2001, we were introduced to a completely different concept for a series: real-time drama. Bauer had to save America one minute at a time, with each one-hour episode happening at the same one-hour pace in our world as in Bauer’s world.
Unfortunately, after saving the world from terrorists in Season One, it became more and more difficult for viewers to believe that he kept getting himself in these situations year after year. Maybe they should have had one season where he just went to Las Vegas, or up to the Bering Straits where he spent a year working as a crab fisherman.
How fast did we fall in love with Jennifer Garner as Sydney Bristow? From the get-go, this action-packed spy drama (also from 2001) was one of the best on ABC. Garner got the leading role after working as a recurring character on “Felicity,” which was J.J. Abrams’ first show. Once he decided to get into the spy show business, Abrams cast Garner and the rest was history.
Our comic-book fantasies came true in the fall of 2006, when “Heroes” premiered. Ordinary people suddenly discover that they have superhuman powers, and of course, there are good guys and bad guys.
Everyone remembers the mantra, “Save the Cheerleader, Save the World,” since it was all over MySpace (remember that?) as people’s quotes. Unfortunately, once they saved the cheerleader in Season One, we found out, the world still needed saving and it became ridiculous after that, as good guys became bad guys and vice versa.
One year before “Heroes” came out, the Fox Network gave us “Prison Break.” Two brothers stuck in the same prison try to escape, with one of them sentenced to death for a crime we find out he did not commit.
“Prison Break” and “Heroes” both had some of the same problems in that in the later seasons, we were kinda forced to root for the bad guys in certain situations. “Teabag” should never be a character one roots for. Ever.
Give these four must-watch first seasons on Netflix a try and let us know what you think. Are there other shows that had great first seasons that I might have forgotten?