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TV Shows That Are Better If You Skip The First Season

Not every great TV show starts off that way—in fact, most don't. First seasons are tough beasts, dogged with the immediate pressure to find an interesting way to introduce a set of characters, a world, and a plot in a way that doesn't fall too heavily on exposition, doesn't leave too many questions, and doesn't give too much away. It's a hard formula to solve, and many shows end up having questionable early outings. However, just because a show has a bad first season doesn't mean you should refuse to watch any of it; instead, just skip the earliest batch of episodes. You'll enjoy all of these shows a lot more if you ignore the first season.

The Office

The Office built a cult following on the strength of its awkward comedy, but in the first season, the show went a little too far into discomfort. This was partially due to the series' efforts to resemble its British predecessor; British comedy has a different feel, and the tone just didn't translate well. However, it was also due to some growing pains in the writer's room, which struggled to establish some of the series' distinct characters in ways that managed the right balance between endearing and annoying.

Steve Carell's Michael Scott is a prime example: in later seasons, he comes off as adorable and even loveable at times, making his general selfishness and thoughtless incompetence redeemable. However, in the first season, he just seems like a bad person, and isn't at all compelling to watch. Luckily, The Office is a sitcom, and, even though the first season does a good amount of work in setting up the series' important characters, you can pretty easily get into the show if you start with season two. And hey, if you do decide to slog through the first season, it's only six episodes.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Buffy's first season wasn't particularly bad, but as a mid-season replacement produced on a shoestring budget, it fell victim to really bad, especially cheap 1997 special effects. While the filmmakers tried their best, Buffy's first season looks unbelievably cheesy in retrospect, and that distracts from the storylines—which, to begin with, aren't all that much to distract from. While the series does an admirable job of setting up a complicated mythology, season one never quite reaches the same levels as its successors. The Big Bad (the Master) isn't quite scary enough, despite an impressive performance from Mark Metcalf, and none of the standalones are particularly stand-out. (Does anyone remember the episode when Xander turned into a hyena and a bunch of kids ate the school principal? If you do, we're very sorry.) If you want to start a new Buffy binge, watch the first two episodes and then skip straight to the second season.

Justified

Justified's first season wasn't awful, but it's nothing compared to what came later. The series started out like a procedural drama, featuring criminals of the week for the first set of episodes. While the story was still compelling, it wasn't able to grab viewers the same way it did when it moved away from episodic storytelling and became a fully serialized show. Later seasons also benefitted from a greater focus on some of the first season's supporting characters (Walton Goggins' Boyd Crowder and Jere Burns' Wynn Duffy come to mind), and the second season in particular reveled in the inclusion of the always amazing Margo Martindale. Justified's first season is definitely still worth a watch, but if you're in a hurry to get to the really good stuff, you can just skip to the last few episodes of the season and be on your way.

Seinfeld

First off, Seinfeld didn't even start off as Seinfeld— it started off as The Seinfeld Chronicles, with the name eventually changed after the network decided to pick up the pilot to series (something which didn't come easily; the show only received a four-episode order at first). Seinfeld's first season is missing many of the things that distinguishes the show from a traditional sitcom; the characters haven't reached their wacky level of craziness yet, the humor just isn't there for a lot of the episodes, and, even for a show about nothing, not all that much goes on. Seinfeld is a sitcom that has done amazingly in syndication because the episodes are all standalones and don't require that you watch in order, so there's really no reason to slog through the slow and mostly unfunny first season. Unless you're a diehard Seinfeld superfan, we recommend you just start with season two, if you're trying to watch chronologically, or just catch a few episodes on TV and get invested that way.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. ruined its entire first season because it was waiting. The show had twists up its sleeve, something the creators clearly knew, but they couldn't reveal any of them until Captain America: The Winter Soldier hit theaters—which meant that the first season, to the uninformed viewer, felt disjointed, awkward, and, worst of all, boring.

The reveal that there were Hydra agents in S.H.I.E.L.D. and the subsequent destruction that occurred in Winter Soldier set the show on a new path, showing that some of the team actually had massive secrets and finally giving our heroes a concrete and engaging villain to fight. However, the show had to wait for Winter Soldier to make (or even to hint at) that reveal, which meant the first season was an ambling mess. We recommend starting with the first post-Winter Soldier episode, "Turn, Turn, Turn," and heading on from there.

Orange is the New Black

Orange is the New Black used Taylor Schilling's Piper Chapman as the figurehead to bring viewers into the world of Litchfield. While she was relatable to most viewers and it was a helpful strategy to first introduce the show's full cast of characters, Piper pretty much instantly became the most boring person on the show. Schilling does an admirable job of portraying her, but Piper is still a whiny, childish character who pales in comparison to her counterparts on the canvas.

Even worse than Piper were the other people in her life, including Jason Biggs' dull Larry and Maria Dizzia's Polly, whose struggling soap business was nothing compared to the real problems the rest of the women were facing. While there are definitely some standout moments (including the first introduction of Red and Sophia's backstories and a full-on evil Pennsatucky), the first season ultimately struggled because the writers didn't recognize who their most interesting characters were yet. The show became much more compelling in later seasons when it became a full-on ensemble drama; while we recommend that you watch the pilot and the last two episodes of the season, that's about all you need to see.

The Simpsons

When a show has been on for 30 seasons, it's bound to have a few duds. The Simpsons' first season, though, was pretty much entirely misses. Most of the episodes were decidedly unfunny, and the show struggled to nail down the perfect comedic tone and find out what exactly it wanted its characters to be. These types of growing pains come with every show, and The Simpsons certainly shouldn't be faulted for taking a little time to find the formula that would end up making them the longest running sitcom on television. Still, the season is pretty skippable, especially considering how many other episodes of The Simpsons there are to watch. Do yourself a favor and skip season one (but definitely not seasons two and three) if you're going to start the show new; there's no reason to sit through the first few episodes when the plot resets every time anyway.

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

It's hard to imagine the It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia gang without Danny DeVito, but the legendary comedian was totally missing in season one. DeVito showed up as Frank Reynolds in the first episode of season two, and his introduction helped to take what was already a funny show to whole new heights. While the first season wasn't bad, without Frank in place, the gang felt incomplete. The show also held back a bit early on, still presenting pretty awful characters (the first episode is all about the gang being racist) but ones who were slightly less deplorable than they would go on to be later in the series. The show didn't come into its own until the second season, and, because the plot isn't really serialized, you're better off just skipping right to the good stuff.

Breaking Bad

Breaking Bad started off strong with a pretty incredible pilot episode and followed it up with an impressive second outing, but after that, the first season slowed down considerably. Watching the series as it played out, the first season was still engaging, as viewers wanted to know where Walt's journey would eventually take him, but by now, just about everybody has at least a general sense of where Walt ended up, taking all of the air out of season one. While we definitely recommend that you check out the first two episodes and the season finale, there's really no point in slogging through Walt's inconsequential fights with Skylar and Jesse and his struggles as a bumbling would-be drug kingpin when you can just skip to the much more intense drama down the road.

The Walking Dead

For a show about a zombie infestation, The Walking Dead sure is slow. Pacing has plagued the show for the entirety of its run, but it was particularly bad in the first season, when fans weren't being buoyed through the boring bits by the prospect of those truly great moments that could potentially pop up in any old episode. Season one had just six episodes to establish a walker infestation and introduce a pretty big cast of characters, and, in some respects, it did a lot of things well (Rick was set up, pretty much immediately, as a solid and compelling hero, and early introductions of characters like Daryl and Glenn also fared well).

However, the season was bogged down due to its focus on horribly unlikeable characters (Shane and Merle immediately come to mind) and on some pretty trumped-up, forced drama, something which isn't necessary when the end of humanity is literally on your doorstep. The show started to do better in later seasons as it ditched the less interesting characters (although The Walking Dead will always have issues with a few corners of its canvas). The pilot is probably necessary viewing, but after that, you can move on to season two.