What Shows Are You Still Watching, Even Though They're Not What They Used to Be?

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I'm sure that some of you Entourage fans are excited for the Season 7 premiere this Sunday. Maybe you're even genuinely excited, and I don't blame you. I think the world needs more Kevin Dillon. But I'm also sure that some of you are experiencing mixed—even disgruntled—feelings about the new season. You know who you are. You're going to tune in, but you're not very happy about it. The show has been going downhill for a couple seasons, but you've made an investment in the characters (or something), so why quit now? It's a difficult question to answer.

Entourage is one of many shows that's fallen into the bloated rabbit-hole category of TV Shows We Can't Stop Watching Even Though They've Gone Downhill. Most shows seem to go bad right around the sixth-season mark (with the exception of the freakishly successful NCIS, though some might argue that the crime procedural didn't even start out strong), and since so many "good" shows debuted in or around 2004, we're starting to see the ungraceful signs of aging in several of our former favorites. Ahem: Weeds, which soured a lot of its fans with the whole Mexican-drug-lord plot twist; It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, which beats its politically-incorrect novelty into the ground; How I Met Your Mother, which has dragged out the titular storyline for way too long; and The Office, which just isn't that funny anymore.

Comedies aren't the only offenders. Two of ABC's "Big 3" dramas, Grey's Anatomy and Desperate Housewives (both of which will enter their seventh seasons fall) are still going, but they're far from strong. And Lost, had it not ended earlier this year, probably would have ended up in the same boat. Meanwhile, the CW is hanging on to its two stalwart fan-favorites, Smallville and One Tree Hill, even though their current casts are barely reminiscent of the shows' original ensembles. In the fall, they'll enter their tenth and eighth seasons, respectively.

I'll openly admit to the decline in quality of some of my favorite shows—The Office, HIMYM, Desperate Housewives—yet I'll still follow them aimlessly into the dark. For me, it's the character investment thing. No matter how silly the stories get, no matter how many guest stars the writers trot out to spice things up, I still get a kick out of seeing Jim Halpert (John Krasinski) shrug at the camera, watching Marshall Eriksen (Jason Segel) "lawyer" one of his friends, and listening to Gabrielle Solis (Eva Longoria Parker) verbally bitch-slap pretty much everyone she comes into contact with.

But what about you? Which shows are you hanging on to? And why?

Follow TV.com writer Stefanie Lee on Twitter: @StefAtTVDotCom

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