The best characters on TV

January 11, 2013
Donald Glover

Another chance to post a photo of Donald Glover

I used to be a movie geek. I took some film studies in University, I spent hours in video stores back when you could get seven old VHS movies for seven days for $10, and I would scour newspapers and magazines for the best movies of the year lists – lining them up for viewing soon afterwards.

But sometime in the last 5-10 years, that all changed.  DVD sets of TV shows were more convenient to watch and relatively affordable, sites like Sidereel and TVDuck made it easy to stream things onto the laptop often in my lap, external hard-drives gave me more space to store the stuff I download, my varied media schedule gave me late evenings and afternoons to watch, and, dare I say it, there’s some great TV being made by both basic and premium channels.

It’d be hard to tell you my favourite shows of all time or even of the current season. In fact, the  list I came up with: My favourite TV characters of 2012 doesn’t even come from the best TV.

Before I get started, I’m a bit ashamed that women are not better represented on these lists. I don’t know if that’s because women are poorly represented in sitcom TV or if I don’t tend to consume the kind of shows marketed to women.  After the first draft, I realized women just happen to be my second favourite character on many shows, so I added the honourable mention and it feels like a broader (no pun intended) list in the process.

Also, if you’re not caught up on the shows below, there may be spoilers.

My favourite TV characters of 2012

Nolan Ross – Revenge: I don’t think I’ve seen an episode of Revenge where Nolan didn’t have the best line.  He’s fun, he’s interesting, he has emotions and he can’t be pigeonholed into a stereotype.  (Hon. Mention: Victoria Grayson – Who presents the epitome of soap opera programming.)

Rayna James – Nashville: I guess I’m getting the soap opera-style shows out of the way first.  while Nashville has been a disappointment overall, Connie Britton is never the problem.  Every scene with Rayna is better than the ones without. Also: Best hair on TV. I wonder if this is less about the character and more about the actress because if I was doing a favourite characters from the past, it’d be hard to leave Tami Taylor off the list. (Hon. Mention: Deacon – Who knew a former “Whose Line is it Anyways” improver could be such a good fit on a dramatic show about country music?)

Troy Barnes – Community: I’ve never hid my appreciation for Donald Glover on this blog.  But what is so great about his character, other than reaction faces and one-liners, is the heart at the heart of it all. (Hon. Mention: The rest of the cast of Community.  Back February 9th!)

Nick Miller – New Girl: I actually gave up on New Girl early on.  I had watched about 4 episodes and felt very uninspired by the show. Christmas came around and I was bored, so I gave it a second chance.  While I realize most people considered Schmidt the breakout character, I’m a Nick Miller girl.  I think this is a case where I know I like the character and not just the actor because my favourite parts are flashbacks to kid Nick who is apparently an old man.

Max – Happy Endings: Right now it’s painful to watch Happy Endings as ABC seems to be burning off episodes on Sundays as well as Tuesdays. Season three has been so consistently funny, it’s really too bad no one is watching. (But really, look at this list of shows – only Walking Dead is a shoo-in to be back for another season.) Anyways, the Max character is fantastic because he’s gay, but it’s not used as a stereotype. He’s also mad hilarious. (Hon mention: Alex – The writers figured out how to use Elisha Cuthbert between seasons 1 and 2. Sure, she’s mostly one liners, but I am sold on them.)

Glenn – The Walking Dead: I admit, I only recently caught back up to The Walking Dead. It was my last chance before starting two new jobs and saying goodbye to free time for a few months. As I watched season 2-3, I realized something. I didn’t really care who died – Except Glenn (and below, the honourable mention). His mix of timidness and tenacity, helps show how we would have no idea what to do in that reality.  (Hon mention: Maggie – She was one of the best things to come out of season 2, other than the death of Shane.)

Leslie Knope & Ben Wyatt – Parks and Recreation: When Ben proposed to Leslie in the Halloween episode, I cried a little.  I just love this couple so much. At this point, they are no longer the actors playing the roles. They are Leslie and Ben.  (Hon mention: Entire cast of Parks and Recreation. Seriously.)


Selina Meyer – Veep: I wonder if this show will hit home even more as I am now doing political work. My reality is less security and business suits, more fundraising and policy aimed at day to day lives of British Columbians.  Anyways, Julia Louis-Dreyfus is fantastic in this fast-paced, quick witted role. (Hon mention: I wish there was a show that just followed Joe Biden around.)

Sgt. Brody – Homeland: Most of the characters on this list are here because I genuinely like them. I root for them, I hope zombies or elections don’t kill them and I want them to be happy.  Sgt. Brody, not so much.  While I’m still catching up on Season 2, the character in Season 1 had incredible depth even if I wasn’t rooting for him. (Hon mention: Carrie Mathison – Whom I also dislike. Go figure, a great show that is full of unlikeable characters.)

And of course, as we say goodbye to a comedy powerhouse three weeks from now… Jack Donaghy and Liz Lemon – 30 Rock: I went back and forth on what do with the characters from 30 Rock. I couldn’t do best cast (that would go to Parks and Recreation). After recently watching the 30 Rock pilot with Rachel Dratch, it reminded me that this show is about two people, Jack and Liz. It’s better due to the great writing and casting, but for 7 seasons, the heart has stayed the same.  And I’ll admit, it wasn’t at the top of its game for a while, but this final season has been worth coming back for.  I may have cried a bit during the wedding episode.


Other shows to give a mention to:

I’m a big fan of Fringe. I was tempted to put Pacey Witter Peter Bishop on the list, but realized that might be more of an attraction thing, than a character thing.  Olivia Dunham took a while to win me over, but I’ll miss the whole cast when it ends its run in two weeks.

Over the years, I tuned into Gossip Girl.  At first it was a guilty pleasure and eventually a TV train wreck.  I tuned in for the finale recently, having not watched this final season.  It was terrible.  Maybe the worst thing I’ve ever watched.  None of the characters merit a note.

Phil Dunfee on Modern Family is hilarious, though I tend to tune into that show only on planes. Chloe on Don’t Trust the Bitch in Apartment 23 is a cartoon character, but I enjoy it. The character on that show who should get more props is Luther, JVDB’s assistant.

I still watch The Good Wife but the whole plot line with Kalinda’s crazy husband turned me off.  Plus it doesn’t have enough of my Cary Agos.

How I Met Your Mother has lost some of its charm in recent years.  While I love me some Jason Segel, the best character is Robin.

True Blood came back to life (heh) a bit this year. Pam is still awesome.

Girls is like Homeland. I dislike the characters, but I probably would dislike myself at that age, in this era.

Oh, and Mad Men.  Everyone is awesome.  Done. -Drops mic.


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