It is a rite of passage for some TV critics to take stock of the worst of the past year's television. Entertainment Weekly Online, no nest of prudes and scolds, has compiled its own list of the "10 moments that made us squirm the most."
Some of them were the kind that might be missed by most on pay cable. On HBO's miniseries "Rome," a woman convinced her lesbian lover to seduce her own brother as part of a plot to destroy Caesar. On HBO Signature's serial-killer drama "Epitafios," the show's star killer opened his victim's mouth with hooks and fishing wire, then tossed in an asphyxiating throatful of coins. And on HBO's "The Comeback," a washed-up actress punched her sitcom writer so hard he vomited, which caused her to vomit, don't you know.
It never ceases to amaze: People pay good money for this smelly garbage.
In some cases, people aren't buying. Paris Hilton's sex-kitten commercials for the Carl's Jr. chain's Spicy Barbecue Burger still rankled the critics with their ridiculously erotic hard sell. Who was convinced that anorexic Paris was really excited to eat a burger as large as her head? And in the middle of washing a car? Why would a pampered heiress do that? The shameless CEO admitted it was "all about sales." After fortunes were spent on paid advertising, and millions more in free news publicity, the gimmick failed. Sales were unmoved. All the chain bought was public disdain.
They weren't the only failures. Britney Spears and her new husband Kevin Federline made home videos for the UPN series "Chaotic," grossing out the critics with staged makeout scenes with Britney tugging at her shirt to show cleavage. It ranked 197th last year. It bombed.
Much worse was Bravo's reality series "Being Bobby Brown," following around has-been pop star Brown and his wife, Whitney Houston. The second episode included Brown recalling an incident in which his wife was constipated and he had to put his hand up her behind to remove feces for her relief. Houston proclaimed, ''That's black love!'' Whitney Houston used to be the class of pop music, and now she and her husband are just the clowns. The Bobby show had half the viewers of the Britney show -- but little Bravo was encouraged. They just aired "A Bobby Brown Christmas."