12 TV Shows That Successfully Avoided The Sophomore Slump

The sophomore slump is one of the worst curses that shows have to deal with, but these 12 TV series managed to successfully avoid this notorious drop in quality. The sophomore slump is a television phenomenon that has been observed for decades, with many otherwise fantastic shows unable to avoid it. However, the sophomore slump is not inevitable as these 12 TV shows have proven.

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“Sophomore slump” is the label typically given to TV shows that see a significant decline in quality from season 1 to season 2. While some shows are able to recover, others aren’t, with the sophomore slump impacting TV series in all kinds of different ways. True Detective, Heroes, 13 Reasons Why, The Walking Dead, and Prison Break are just some examples of shows that have fallen into this trap, with the sophomore slump being almost unexplainable. All kinds of shows have struggled to recover from the sophomore slump, but these 12 shows avoided it entirely.

Related: 10 TV Shows With A Better Season 2, According To Reddit

12 The Bear

Jeremy-Allen-White-The-Bear-Trailer

FX’s The Bear was a surprising hit when season 1 was released on Hulu, with the series garnering critical acclaim and quickly developing a dedicated fandom. Some viewers were worried that the series wouldn’t be able to live up to this same level of quality when The Bear season 2 premiered less than a year later, with it possibly falling prey to the sophomore slump. However, The Bear managed to not only avoid this, but it actually improved on its predecessor, with The Bear season 2 getting even better reviews than season 1.

11 Fleabag

Phoebe Waller-Bridge looks at a gerbil in Fleabag

Amazon Prime’s Fleabag was a critical success upon its season 1 release in 2016, but things only got better for the show when season 2 came out. Like many comedies, it took until season 2 for Fleabag to fully find its footing, and in the case of the Phoebe Waller-Bridge-led show it did so in an excellent way. Fleabag season 2 wrapped up the series, and rather than suffering from sophomore slump, season 2 ended the show at a peak.

10 Sex Education

Netflix; Patricia Allison; Tanya Reynolds

Neftlix’s Sex Education is another series that somehow managed to avoid the sophomore slump, with season 2 being even better than season 1. Of the show’s three seasons, season 2 is often considered the best, with its quality far surpassing that of Sex Education season 1. While the upcoming Sex Education season 4 could be better than season 2, it seems unlikely, with it currently being the peak of the acclaimed Netflix series.

The Black Rider Community

Community is one of the most creative sitcoms of all time, and much of the show’s character came about during season 2. Season 1 of Community was a fairly cookie-cutter situational comedy, with the show’s characters falling into the basic tropes and archetypes. However, season 2 really upped the ante by adding weirder storylines, changing Troy’s character from a jock to an excitable geek, and doubling down on Abed’s fourth wall breaks. Community season 2’s changes ended up defining the show rather than dragging it down.

8 Bojack Horseman

BoJack Horseman by a pool.

Bojack Horseman season 2 was received much better than season 1, and that’s mostly due to the show’s risky season 1 gamble. Bojack Horseman sets up its deep themes that appear later in the show in season 1, with the first few episodes acting as traditional adult animated comedies. Then, later episodes of season 1 flipped that on its head, introducing the elements that make the show so unique. Bojack Horseman season 2 wasn’t dragged down by these poor early episodes, making the season significantly more enjoyable all the way through.

7 Breaking Bad

Bryan Cranston holding a gun as Walt in Breaking Bad.

Breaking Bad is an incredibly consistent show from beginning to end, and avoiding the sophomore slump is how the show established its constant quality. Breaking Bad season 2 is just as good as season 1, with it really building out the world of Albuquerque’s drug trade in a way that season 1 couldn’t. Breaking Bad season 2’s Jane Margolis storyline is one of the show’s most iconic parts, and that’s only one part of the fantastic second season.

6 The Sopranos

Tony looks smug on a boat in The Sopranos

Similarly to Breaking Bad, The Sopranos also takes a similar strategy, introducing the characters and concept in season 1 before expanding the world and story in season 2. The Sopranos does this masterfully, with elements of season 2’s Salvatore “Big Pussy” Bonpensiero storyline being at the core of the series to the very end. For a show as fantastic as The Sopranos, season 2 is a standout rather than a drop in quality.

5 Parks And Rec

Amy Poehler and Rashida Jones in Parks and Rec.

After Parks and Recreation season 1, the show needed some serious changes to keep it from being a lazy The Office clone. Luckily, season 2 was willing to make those changes. Parks and Recreation season 2 axed Mark Brendanawicz and introduced Ben Wyatt and Chris Traeger, flipping much of the show’s dynamic around. Plus, season 2 was when Parks and Recreation‘s cast really got comfortable in their roles, allowing for the season to be significantly improved.

4 Succession

Logan hosts a dinner in Succession

Succession season 1 tells an explosive story, and somehow season 2 manages to be just as good. Succession season 2 mostly deals with the fallout of the Roy siblings’ takeover attempt in season 1, with the character of Kendall getting greatly fleshed out. Season 2 also began to rely on Succession‘s drama more than its comedy, with this new direction making the show work much better.

Related: 10 Netflix Shows That Get Way Better In The Second Season

3 Buffy The Vampire Slayer

sarah michelle gellar in buffy the vampire slayer

It’s a common consensus that the early seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer are the show’s best, and season 2 is close to the top. The season introduces new characters like Spike and Drusilla, maintains the same level of humor and heart, and also has a more consistent tone. However, what makes season 2 so special is that it is 22 episodes, with it consistently being as good as season 1’s 12 episodes.

2 Seinfeld

Seinfeld characters in jail in series finale

Seinfeld season 1 is an incredibly mediocre batch of episodes, which many viewers find surprising due to the show’s legendary status. However, this status is mostly thanks to season 2. Seinfeld season 2 completely avoids the sophomore slump, making improvements and tweaks to the gang’s dynamic that makes everything work much better. Seinfeld‘s best seasons still didn’t come until a few years later, but season 2 is a significant jump in quality nonetheless.

1 Orange Is The New Black

Orange is the new black main characters piper red

Orange is the New Black is consistently great throughout its 7 seasons, and season 2 was the start of this consistency. Orange is the New Black showed that season 1’s quality wasn’t just a fluke, with it doubling down on its criticisms of the prison system in order to make the show coalesce into a poignant thematic purpose. Orange is the New Black‘s cast is at its peak in season 2, proving that the TV series completely avoided the sophomore slump.

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