Are you tired of the same old boring shows on cable? Do you crave something truly weird and mind-bending? Despite more TV series being produced than ever before, it ironically seems like there’s more homogeneity among these shows, with many of them seeming to be cut-and-past copies of other, better shows. Fortunately, there have been some truly weird shows, even before the streaming age, which are either brilliant or just odd, they’re hard to look away form.
One of the defining features of these shows is their willingness to explore the fringes of reality. Whether it’s the surreal alternate universe of The Mighty Boosh or the mind-bending time loops of Twin Peaks: The Return, these shows transport viewers to places that they could never have imagined. In doing so, they challenge our assumptions about what is possible, both in terms of storytelling and the human experience.
In a world where entertainment has become increasingly formulaic and predictable, many viewers are craving something different. They want shows that challenge their perceptions, push boundaries, and take them on a journey into the unknown. That’s where these shows come in.
This mysterious experiment from the mind of David Lynch follows a trio of rabbits as they navigate a bizarre alternate reality filled with cryptic messages and strange occurrences. With no clear plot and a heavy dose of Lynchian surrealism, it’s no wonder Rabbits was deemed too weird for a proper pick-up and season on cable, existing only on the web.
While most of the footage would eventually end up incorporated into Lynch’s final film, Inland Empire, Rabbits is a fascinating example of a show that is too weird for cable. It follows the journey of three rabbits who navigate through an alternate reality filled with strange occurrences and cryptic messages.
The show’s heavy dose of Lynchian surrealism and lack of a clear plot make it difficult for viewers to follow along. However, the show’s abstract nature allows it to explore complex themes such as time, memory, and identity, making it a favorite for fans of avant-garde art and philosophy.
An adaptation of the extremely cool late-night radio program, Blue Jam, the Channel 4 series Jam is an extremely dark sketch comedy series that only lasted six episodes. Graphic and disturbing, the show felt like Saturday Night Live as envisioned by Satan and serial killers, and few ‘comedy’ series have ever been so grim. Creator Chris Morris is a legend in comedy, but some say he went to far with this morbid little series, though it undoubtedly has a nihilistic, depressed vibe that almost feels relaxing in a hopeless, apocalyptic way. Even more interesting were the ‘remixed’ versions of episodes, titled Jaaaaam, which were released later at night and featured trippier visuals.
7 Twin Peaks: The Return
David Lynch’s iconic mystery series, Twin Peaks, returned to our screens in 2017 with a vengeance. Packed with bizarre imagery, surreal dream sequences, and mind-bending time loops, this show was simply too strange for cable to handle. Lynch’s refusal to tie up loose ends or provide easy answers left many viewers scratching their heads in confusion.
Twin Peaks: The Return is a cult classic that is known for its surreal dream sequences, mind-bending time loops, and bizarre imagery. It is not surprising that it was deemed too strange for cable as the show is full of Lynch’s signature surrealism and enigmatic storytelling. The show’s refusal to tie up loose ends and provide easy answers left many viewers scratching their heads in confusion. However, for fans of David Lynch’s work, Twin Peaks: The Return is a triumph of filmmaking that challenges traditional narrative structures.
This Marvel Comics-based series explores the mind of a powerful mutant with multiple personalities. Legion‘s psychedelic visual style and willingness to delve into the darkest corners of the human psyche make it too weird and abstract for mainstream cable audiences. However, the show’s exploration of complex themes such as identity, mental illness, and the nature of reality has garnered it a loyal following among fans of outré television.
5 The Brothers Grunt
The Brothers Grunt is a bizarre animated series from MTV that follows a group of grotesque, sloth-like creatures as they navigate their surreal world. The show’s style is reminiscent of underground comics and its willingness to push the boundaries of good taste make it too strange for cable audiences. However, the show’s irreverent humor and strange characters have made it a cult classic among fans of avant-garde animation.
4 My Strange Addiction
The cringe-worthy reality show, My Strange Addiction, explores the lives of people with unusual and often disturbing compulsions, from eating couch cushions to drinking human blood. While it may have been too weird for some cable networks, and perhaps (like most reality TV shows) even unethical, it found a devoted following thanks to its shocking subject matter and voyeuristic appeal. Nonetheless, it got to a point after its quick flurry of episodes where the studio felt uncomfortable about airing any more episodes. A supposed press statement from Discovery Channel (which owns TLC) explained My Strange Addiction‘s cancelation:
Due to legal requirements and public concerns over exposing young viewers to potentially harmful behaviors displayed on some television channels, we have decided not to continue with any further episodes of ‘My Strange Addiction.’
3 The Mighty Boosh
This British comedy series defies categorization, blending elements of surrealism, psychedelia, and absurdist humor. With characters like a talking ape and a shamanic spirit guide, The Mighty Boosh was simply too weird for cable audiences who crave more traditional sitcoms, lasting only 20 episodes. However, the show’s unique brand of humor, delightful music, and its willingness to experiment with form and content have made it a cult favorite among fans of experimental comedy.
2 Tales from the Crypt
This horror anthology series pushed the boundaries of gore and sexuality on cable in the ’90s. With a campy, tongue-in-cheek approach to horror, Tales from the Crypt is an interesting example of a series working in one country but evidently being too weird for another country, as the show’s move to England for its last season was said to have led to its cancelation, while it was also subject to censorship in some other countries.
A common thread among these shows is their willingness to embrace the weird and the bizarre. From the grotesque creatures of The Brothers Grunt to the talking ape of The Mighty Boosh, these shows revel in their weirdness. They invite us to laugh at the absurdity of life, even as they explore some of its darkest corners. Tales from the Crypt is a great example of that, mixing morbid humor, imaginative creepiness, great guest stars, and various grotesqueries.
1 The Kingdom (Riget)
Like Lynch, the artful filmmaker Lars von Trier brought his surreal vision to television with The Kingdom (known as Riget in the original Danish), a hybrid of classic medical dramas like ER, supernatural dramas like The X-Files, and outright horror series like Tales from the Darkside. The series was set in the neurological center of a major Copenhagen hospital which is beginning to experience mysterious hauntings and supernatural occurrences. With its highly cinematic aesthetic, odd Greek chorus, and gripping narrative, the show is ridiculously watchable as it descends into downright weirdness. Ironically, just like Twin Peaks, the show received its long-awaited third season in 2022, two decades later.
Shows like The Kingdom and the rest of these often have a deeper purpose than simply being purposefully shocking or weird. Whether it’s exploring the human psyche in Legion, or shining a light on unusual compulsions in My Strange Addiction, they invite us to reflect on our own experiences and perceptions. In doing so, they help us to see the world in a new light and challenge us to question our assumptions about what is normal.
Some viewers may find them too weird or abstract, while others simply prefer more conventional forms of entertainment. But for those who are willing to take the plunge, these shows offer a truly unique viewing experience that is unlike anything else on television.