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Ryan Murphy is usually wildly praised for the work he does on his projects, but let's be honest, some of his casting choices are questionable.

Ryan Murphy’s horrible casting: The worst picks for his movies and shows

Fresh off his directorial efforts with Netflix’s The Prom, (and what feels like a lack of effort with some of his casting), I think it’s time that we all sit down with American television producer Ryan Murphy and ask him about some of his horrible casting choices in recent years. 

Hollywood Swiss army knife Ryan Murphy certainly has a lot of toys (or actors) in his toy chest, and it’s clear that he has a few favorites, bringing them out time and time again to play within a variety of shows & film projects. 

However, perhaps some of Murphy’s casting picks should’ve stayed deep inside the toy chest, never to be played with again. 

John Travolta in The People v. O.J. Simpson

The first chapter in this 2016 FX true crime anthology, called American Crime Story, saw Ryan Murphy as an executive producer, with many of his collaborators jumping on this project with him as they told the story of the “trial of the century”. 

While many casting decisions felt spot-on, including Sarah Paulson as Marcia Clark, there was one character that felt very out of place: the character of Robert Shapiro, played by Grease’s John Travolta. 

While Travolta has certainly turned in many strong performances in his career, his portrayal of Robert Shapiro fell extremely flat, making odd choices for the character in what felt like every scene. Whether that be heavy squinting or odd shifts in the character’s voice, it seemed like Travolta was still trying to channel his Edna Turnblad heights from 2007’s Hairspray.

James Corden in The Prom

Released on Netflix earlier this month, Ryan Murphy assembled an all-star cast featuring Meryl Streep, Kerry Washington, Nicole Kidman, and Andrew Rannells. With Murphy returning to the director’s chair to helm this Broadway gem, we were certain that it would be smooth sailing given Murphy’s background in musical entertainment. 

Boy were we wrong. 

Late-night host James Corden was brought in to play the flamboyant Barry Glickman, a narcissistic Broadway performer who, along with his other musical peers, decides to help a young girl bring her girlfriend to her high school prom.

Perhaps in a role that no straight performer should’ve been cast in, Corden displays easily the worst “gay face” we’ve seen on screen in years, leaving a more sour taste in our mouth than a 2:00 a.m. Taco Bell order we’re not judging.

Mark Salling in Glee

Look, this might be a bit of poor casting hindsight, but it’s without question that the casting of Mark Salling in the role of school bully turned heartthrob, Noah Puckerman (or “Puck”) ultimately hurt the show’s “rewatchability”. 

While Glee saw its fair share of real-life tragedy, including the 2013 death of Glee star Cory Monteith as well as the 2020 passing of Naya Rivera, there was another tragedy that takes on multiple layers. 

In 2017, Salling took his own life after a looming prison sentence was placed on him for a crime that involved child pornography.

It was a rough one for multiple reasons, which can sometimes make it hard to flip on a favorite episode and enjoy it for what it is.

Abigail Breslin in Scream Queens

Little Miss Sunshine’s Abigail Breslin, regrettably, feels like one of those incredible child stars whose talent melted away after puberty. 

That could be a little harsh, but it’s hard to deny that Breslin’s charm & innocence took a hit when it came time to her performance as Chanel #5 in 2015’s Scream Queens, making it difficult to keep up with her other female costars such as Lea Michele, Emma Roberts, Billie Lourd, Keke Palmer, Ariana Grande, and Jamie Lee Curtis.

Breslin sticks out like a sore thumb in this series, which makes it all the more difficult as we go on to see how much her character is actually picked on by others in the show, leaving us as the audience to feel like the school kid who’s watching the bully pick on the class dork and doing nothing about it. 

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