10 Worst Episodes of Frontline

Since it began in 1983, Frontline has been airing public-affairs documentaries that explore a wide scope of the complex human experience. Frontline's goal is to extend the impact of the documentary beyond its initial broadcast by serving as a catalyst for change.

Written by Sophie and last updated on feb 06, 2023.

PS: The following content contains spoilers!

PPS: I will admit that parts of this page was written with the help of AI - it makes my work so much easier to not start from a blank page!

Frontline - S2017E7

#10 - Iraq Uncovered (Season 2017 - Episode 7)

Militias work with the military to fight for control in Iraq; the impact of the fighting on civilians; a look at areas where the Islamic State group has been pushed out.

The episode was rated 7.08 from 26 votes.

Frontline - S2016E3

#9 - The Fantasy Sports Gamble (Season 2016 - Episode 3)


A joint investigation with the New York Times of fantasy sports and online sports betting. Included: the growth of such businesses; and a look inside their operations.

The episode was rated 7.00 from 15 votes.

Frontline - S2015E10

#8 - Rape on the Night Shift (Season 2015 - Episode 10)

Following up on the award-winning collaboration that produced Rape in the Fields/Violación de un Sueño in 2013, FRONTLINE (PBS), Univision, Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR), the Investigative Reporting Program (IRP) at UC Berkeley, and KQED are teaming up to uncover the sexual abuse of immigrant women who clean the malls where you shop, the banks where you do business, and the offices where you work.

The episode was rated 6.93 from 15 votes.

Frontline - S2020E15

#7 - COVID's Hidden Toll (Season 2020 - Episode 15)


FRONTLINE examines how the COVID crisis has hit vulnerable immigrants and undocumented workers. The documentary follows the coronavirus pandemic’s invisible victims, including crucial farm and meat-packing workers who lack protections and have been getting sick.

The episode was rated 6.90 from 10 votes.

Frontline - S2020E12

#6 - The Virus: What Went Wrong? (Season 2020 - Episode 12)

As COVID-19 spread from Asia to the Middle East to Europe, why was the U.S. caught so unprepared? Despite repeated warnings of a potent contagion headed our way, America’s leaders failed to prepare and protect us. Why and who is accountable?

The episode was rated 6.83 from 12 votes.

Frontline - S2020E23

#5 - American Voices: A Nation in Turmoil (Season 2020 - Episode 23)


From the pandemic to the polls, 2020 has been a time of tumult across a deeply divided America. FRONTLINE presents a post-election special on the lives, fears and hopes of Americans in the chaotic months leading up to the historic presidential contest. This documentary was filmed around the U.S. for much of the year, following Americans as they dealt with COVID-19 in their communities this spring, responded to George Floyd’s killing this summer, and then experienced the polarizing election and its aftermath this fall.

The episode was rated 6.80 from 10 votes.

Frontline - S2020E18

#4 - Growing Up Poor in America (Season 2020 - Episode 18)

Their families were already struggling to make ends meet. Then came the coronavirus. Director Jezza Neumann, who made 2012’s Poor Kids, once again delves into how poverty impacts children. With the 2020 election approaching, Growing Up Poor in America follows three children and their families in the battleground state of Ohio as the COVID-19 pandemic amplifies their struggle to stay afloat. As the country also reckons with issues of race and racism, the children share their worries and hopes about their futures.

The episode was rated 6.80 from 10 votes.

Frontline - S40E14

#3 - The Power of the Fed (Season 40 - Episode 14)


When COVID struck, the Federal Reserve stepped in to try to avert economic crisis. As the country’s central bank continues to pump billions of dollars into the financial system daily, who is benefitting and at what cost?

The episode was rated 6.60 from 10 votes.

Frontline - S40E18

#2 - Boeing's Fatal Flaw (Season 40 - Episode 18)

In an investigation with The New York Times, FRONTLINE examines the commercial pressures, flawed design and failed oversight behind Boeing’s 737 Max jet and the crashes that killed 346 people.

The episode was rated 6.54 from 13 votes.

Frontline - S2017E8

#1 - Last Days of Solitary (Season 2017 - Episode 8)


The U.S. is the world leader in solitary confinement, with more than 80,000 prisoners being held in isolation. But in recent years, more than 30 states have begun to experiment with reforms aimed at reducing the use of solitary. On Tuesday, April 18, FRONTLINE presents “Last Days of Solitary” — a searing, two-hour exploration of this controversial practice. Filmed over three years, “Last Days of Solitary” goes inside one state’s ambitious attempt to decrease its use of solitary and investigates what happens when prisoners who have spent considerable time in isolation try to integrate back into society.

The episode was rated 6.46 from 13 votes.

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