Self-replying because I think I figured the problem out.
Naruto is too stupid, too one-dimensional as a character to make the show interesting. He's too dumb to actually pursue Sakura, or notice Hinata, or not employ the worst imaginable fighting techniques in nearly every fight.
SERIOUSLY why does he fight every fight like it's the first one he's ever been in? He's been training for HOW long now? As a NINJA?! But he just runs in there, makes a clone or too, and rasengan.
If Naruto weren't a Jinchuriki, he'd be dead and washed out of ninja practice or stuck working alongside Konohamaru. I could incorporate dattebayo here somewhere but I don't hate you all enough for that.