The Most Cringeworthy TV Shows Of The 1980s

By Sarah Norman | October 12, 2023

The Powers of Matthew Star

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You remember "Small Wonder," right? The series where a brilliant robotics engineer decided the best way to navigate the trials of parenthood was to create a lifelike android daughter named Vicki. Because, you know, who needs to go through the inconvenience of childbirth when you can build your offspring from nuts, bolts, and a dash of misplaced ingenuity?

While the '80s were indeed a time of technological marvels, the idea of a mechanical child lurking in your family photos was, well, let's say, a tad bizarre. Vicki's robotic stiffness didn't exactly help matters, making her about as relatable as a toaster with pigtails. Sure, "Small Wonder" had its moments of unintentional hilarity, but embracing this peculiar premise was like trying to hug a laptop—it just didn't quite compute for most viewers.

Small Wonder

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Metromedia Video Productions

"Manimal," a television debacle from the 1980s, is an unforgettable testament to the era's penchant for absurd genre-bending experiments. Hitting the screens in 1983, this gem of a show tracked the misadventures of Dr. Jonathan Chase, a man so mysterious and wealthy that even his ability to morph into various animals couldn't save the day. While the premise might have raised an eyebrow or two, "Manimal" spectacularly crashed and burned in execution. Its special effects were as convincing as a cardboard cutout, and the plotlines could have been written by a bot on autopilot. Despite its undoubtedly tiny but fervent fanbase, "Manimal" stumbled through eight episodes before mercifully being put out of its misery. It now stands as a remarkable relic of a bygone era, celebrated more for its audacious missteps than any lasting impact on the annals of television history.