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Sophomore slumps: Which shows recovered, and which never did?

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  • Daniel Montgomery
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    #1201915203

    This summer, “Mr. Robot” and “UnREAL” are widely believed to have dipped in quality from season one to season two. The sophomore slump has hit a lot of shows over the years, but do they have to be fatal? How often do shows bounce back? How often do they die?

    First show that comes to mind is “Friday Night Lights.” Acclaimed first season, widely criticized second season, but then it returned to form for the rest of its run, even finally winning major Emmys in its last year.

    Then, of course, there’s something like “Heroes,” which took a dive and never quite came back from it.

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    jf123
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    #1201915281

    Even though the later seasons of Desperate Housewives where better than season 2, particularly (seasons 3 and 8), they never got back to the magic of season one

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    Riley
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    #1201915289

    I feel like you got the big ones with UnREAL, Heroes, Friday Night Lights and probably Mr. Robot.

    Homeland slumped in the second half of its second season and continued that slump for the duration of its third season. With only a few slots, TCA dropped the series and Claire Danes and never brought them back. The Emmys and Critics’ Choice dropped the series in the third season, but brought it back in the fourth season, although they never brought it back in writing.

    Mr. Robot and UnREAL are officially done at TCA, but the former still has a few episodes left to redeem itself and keep its Emmy series slot.

    The Last Man on Earth and True Detective had sophomore slumps, but we do not know yet if they will be able to bounce back.

    I did not watch it, but based on its awards trajectory everywhere (Emmys, TCA, Globes, guilds, AFI), it totally looks like Ugly Betty had a sophomore slump. That one continued its awards decline in its third season and then its fourth season was completely shut out by all of those groups that I mentioned.

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    jjjmoss
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    #1201915292

    Ugly Betty’s Justin storyline was great for its last season fwiw.

    Revenge didn’t recover.

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    Teridax
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    #1201915309

    The Strain had an AMAZING 1st season, I voted on it as my #1 pick for Best Drama Series on my Goldderby TV Awards nominating ballot last year!

    That 2nd season though… yikes. Zach Goodweather was the worst. The feeling I had they were making up these characters motivations as they went along regardless if they made any damn sense was the worst. Palmer and his new girlfriend who I NEVER gave a shit about or really believed their relationship was the worst. Dutch, this really cool hacker character getting turned into a damsel in distress to be saved by her man Fet in one episode was the WORST. And poor Nora getting WASTED because Zach was, as always since the beginning of the season, THE. WORST!!!!!!!!

    Besides “The Battle for Red Hook” episode, which was pretty awesome, this entire season was not only a flaming mess, but gradually more and more of an obnoxious one as well, until Nora getting killed due to the whiny fucking stupidity of another character (that honestly, wasn’t bad in the 1st season, just didn’t do much), proved to be my last straw for the show, and it’s refusal to tell a cohesive or at the very least entertaining story. Such a travesty.

    My thoughts on Daredevil, arguably one of the worst “sophomore slumps” of ALL TIME:

    Daredevil, I loved the 1st season, thought it should have been nominated for Drama Series over the boring Downton Abbey and even Game of Thrones mediocre (except for the last 15 minutes of Hardhome) Season 5. However, Season 2 was so dull and painful to finish watching, I’m going to pretend forever that the 1st season was a origin story miniseries.

    Daredevil/Elektra, boring and I didn’t give a shit about their relationshup, never bought their chemistry together, and that plot twist with Elektra and the “Black Sky” was so ridiculous and such bullshit it makes my skin crawl just thinking about it. The cinematography, lighting, and production overall was a HUGE step down from the 1st season. The Punisher was okay at first, I never really got invested in the guy. Jon Bernthal was clearly trying, but he couldn’t overcome for convoluted and dull material he was given in the end. All he wound up being was a distraction from the main storyline, which itself turned out to be just as pathetic and sloppily executed as his storyline, if not maybe even worse! And Karen? Deborah Ann Woll did fine in the 1st season, nothing to really cry home about, but she was so wasted in this season, her and Matt don’t really seem to care about each other anymore, did the writers for S2 even watch the 1st season, and did the writers of both just forget what happened in the S1 finale?! Yeah, love triangles are cliched, but the Matt/Karen and Elektra could have been a really cool dynamic, but they never got into that. I don’t even remember if Elektra and Karen ever even met each other?!?!

    The sole bright spot of the season was Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk, a nice, if short-lived relief of all the shitty writing and mediocre acting I’d been witnessing all season long. And after Fisk was out of the story, continued to witness all. season. long. >;(

    Fuuuuuckk… what an unbelievable pile of garbage. Seriously, did the new showrunners for S2 learn literally NOTHING from Drew Goddard and Steven S. DeKnight, the showrunners for S1?!?! This, this was so horrible, if you ever recommend Marvel’s Daredevil on Netflix to ANYONE , I beg of you, please be sure to insist they only watch the 1st season, so the atrocious 2nd season doesn’t ruin it for them. Like I said, the 1st season was a MINISERIES DAMMIT, as far as I’m concerned and will ever be concerned!!!!!!! 🙁

    Also, can we possibly call Braindead Season 1 a sophomore slump of itself? Really promising 1st half overall, really disappointing to outright frustrating 2nd half so far. :\

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    Riley
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    #1201915320

    Empire is the rare show that had a sophomore slump and did better at the Emmys for it. It did tank at TCA though.

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    Icky
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    #1201915325

    Prison Break is the most obvious one after Heroes.

    I wasn’t a big fan of Damages’ first season, but the second was a mess.

    FNL is probably the most extreme example of slump and recovery.

    Lost had a dithering, redundant second season with some highlights.

    I don’t know if I just get bored really quickly with overtly soapy pretty people dramas, but I didn’t enjoy The OC and Gossip Girl’s second seasons nearly as much as their firsts.

    Veronica Mars had a second season where they upped the soapy aspects and heightened the teen melodrama to get more viewership, which is probably what happened with FNL.

    24’s second season had a couple unfortunate arcs, though in hindsight it’s not a ton more flawed than the first and third seasons.

    The Sopranos’ second season was a minor slump. Some great episodes, but it didn’t feel nearly as vital and focused as season one and it lacked the ambition and depth of seasons three and on. It has the least re-watch value of any season.

    Battlestar Galactica’s second season is overextended and mostly dull.

    The Wire’s second season is ho-hum compared to the seasons it’s sandwiched between, and it just doesn’t fit the nature of the show.

    I guess you could count True Detective if you’re a fan of the first season.

    Comedy wise, Modern Family comes to mind, though it started to slump midway through its first season. Glee, though I was never a fan. Going way back, The Cosby Show had an endearing, smart first season and then a super corny, black version of Full House second season.

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    AayaanUpadhyaya
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    #1201915326

    Orange is the New Black had a very mediocre 3rd season, with fans and critics both calling it its weakest.

    Its turned things around with its 4th season, with fans and critics both calling it its greatest.

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    Icky
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    #1201915330

    Sophomore means second. Though I think ‘Orange’s second and third seasons are about even with the third being slightly better.

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    forwardswill
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    #1201915333

    With the exception of “Thirsty Bird” Orange is the New Black had a very weak second season, so much so that I haven’t even brought myself to watch season 3 yet.

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    Icky
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    #1201915337

    Yes, season two qualifies as genuine slump much more than season three. Though for some reason the second second season has a lot fans.

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    Anonymous
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    #1201915361

    Walking dead season 2 was terrible compared to the amazing season 1 and it never got as good

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    jacob121
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    #1201915471

    I wouldn’t exactly lump Mr. Robot in with this group quite yet – reactions have certainly been mixed but it still has plenty of positive critical reception as opposed to UnReal or Heroes which were absolutely reviled for their second seasons.

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    AayaanUpadhyaya
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    #1201915477

    With the exception of “Thirsty Bird” Orange is the New Black had a very weak second season, so much so that I haven’t even brought myself to watch season 3 yet.

    I think the second season was great, but to each his own.

    You really should give the 4th season a shot, hopefully you won’t be disappointed.

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    Marco B.
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    #1201915496

    Personally I found OITNB S3 better than S4. I never felt that interested in its last season, I don’t know why. I just found all the other seasons richer, for one reason or another.

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