2009 Love and Hate: TV Characters

One of the things that have made this TV season so enjoyable is the many memorable characters that have cropped up. I’ve listed those that I’ve loved this year, who I can’t wait to see and who really add a unique and refreshing element to the moments when they appear on screen. Of course, not all characters can be so likable, and sometimes even characters who were once the best just languish and become tired. I made a list of those as well.

My Most Loved TV Characters

Sheldon Cooper (The Big Bang Theory) is still a laugh-riot. Loved his growing friendship with Penny, and also his rivalries with fellow scientist Kripke and Wil Wheaton.

Manny Delgado (Modern Family) – The little latin cherub who thinks that he’s older, wiser, more mature than he really is … his interactions with his jaded step-dad (played by Ed O’Neil) are hilarious and tender. Honourable mention to Manny’s step-son’s life partner Cameron Tucker, who takes the swishy gay stereotype and works it in a completely endearing way.

Abed (Community) is very odd yet everyone likes him and wants to take care of him. You never know what he’s going to say next (but it’s probably a movie quote). Honourable mention to Shirley, the mother hen of their study group: a timid but sassy black woman brimming with warmth.

Walter Bishop (Fringe) is no less of a mad scientist than last season, but we’ve seen a lot of his vulnerabilities and regrets. He’s more than a series of inappropriately humourous moments, but a fleshed-out (albeit still very eccentric) character.

Rick Castle (Castle) oozes so much charisma and charm that that’s what he should be selling instead of crime novels. He sense of humour make every grisly murder case seem like a day at Disneyland. Honourable mention to his daughter Alexis, who is the smartest and sweetest teenager on TV (and there are many!) who keeps her arrested-development father grounded and accountable while still being true to her own age.

Jane Bingham (Drop Dead Diva) is another likable, warm-hearted character that just lights up an episode. Equal parts perky (which comes from the blond aspiring model in her) and savvy (which is her normal legal-eagle persona), how can you not root for her to win every case?

Miles Straume (Lost) really stepped out of his shell this season. Sure, everyone loves the roguish Sawyer, or the teddy-bear Hurley, but Miles was originally just the grumpy and sarcastic member of the expedition that came to the island. Now he and Hurley are volleying quips (and bonding over their shared ability to speak to the dead), and he’s even gotten to enjoy a little temporal paradox by meeting his own father and younger self in the past. How can you top that?

Sue Sylvester (Glee) is everyone’s favourite love-hate relationship, with heartless putdowns and off-the-wall warnings aimed at her many enemies. Though tempered a bit by a heart-melting scene with her mentally-challenged sister, the otherwise hard-as-nails gym teacher is the most “delicious” (to use Sue’s own vernacular) villain on TV.

Topher Brink (Dollhouse) is like a smart alec gone awry. He’s smarter than everyone else, and he knows it. Nevertheless, without his humourously obnoxious cleverness to lighten the mood, the Dollhouse would have collapsed under the weight of its own dourness.

Angie Bolen (Desperate Housewives) brings some much needed fresh air to Wisteria Lane (even if it’s the air of suspicion). Her no-holding-back Italian attitude really plays well against the other wives in the neighbourhood (especially now that Gabrielle is as white-washed as all the others). Let’s hope the writers don’t deflate her — if she’s still around after her mysteries are revealed (see “Katherine Mayfair” below.)

My Most Hated TV Characters

Terri Schuester (Glee) should be loathed not just for her shrillness and general annoyance, but also for how reprehensible her whole baby-switching plot was. If only we had seen something redeeming about her, but instead we only feel entirely relieved when Will got away from her. Dishonourable mention goes to Terri’s sister Kendra who is the worst wife, mother, and woman I have ever seen. Now we see where younger sis gets it all from!

Vicki Donovan (The Vampire Diaries) was so pathetically self-destructive that I’m glad she got attacked, bitten, turned, then staked (yay!). Anything to free her two (Yes, two!) boyfriends and devoted brother (not to mention the audience) from the mess that was Vicki is OK by me.

Katherine Mayfair (Desperate Housewives) was so great two seasons ago when she had a mysterious secret and also the passive-aggressive gumption to go toe-to-toe with the other housewives. Since she fell in love with Mike Delfino (and he left her for Susan), she’s been sliding straight down the slope to the nuthouse. She was a former favourite of mine and deserved so much better. Dishonourable mention to fellow great-character-turned-lame, Lafayette Reynolds (True Blood) who was sensational, sassy, and strong until he was kept as a slave to murderous vampires after which his post-traumatic stress left him a frightened, spent husk.

Matt Parkman (Heroes) was only one of any number of characters I could have chosen from Heroes (the series with the meteoric plummet). The whole “Sylar’s in my head” story could have been an incredibly interesting dramatic duel. Instead, Matt became a drunk and (as Sylar kept reminding us) a bore. When he sacrificed himself to stop Sylar, I was delighted for his demise. Of course, I felt similar schadenfreude when Claire’s wimpy roommate couldn’t take the adventurous lifestyle and fled. Gretchen was such a limp character, so if she didn’t have any powers, I didn’t know why they should bother with her at all.

Sgt. Ronald Greer (Stargate: Universe) is the kind of person I hate in real life: bad attitude, trouble-maker, constantly threatening others and pushing people around. I get that SG:U is meant to be gritty and full of conflict, but they should have left Greer stranded on a planet long ago.

Tyler Evans (V) is the exact opposite of the smartest and sweetest teenager on TV. He’s stupidly naive, falling head over heels for the alien ruler’s daughter (though she is incredibly cute). He’s a terrible son: defying and lying to his freedom-fighting FBI mom. He seems like a surly teen stereotype. Hopefully his special destiny is to become a snack to the Vs.

Olivia Taylor (24) was an implausible character from the get-go. Her mother (the president) was a wonderful example of strength and grace in time of crisis, but she was blind to the ridiculously selfish, manipulative, unethical, devious, and all round terrible woman her daughter was. I was so happy when she eventually learned the truth.

Stuart Radzinsky, Roger Linus & Phil (Lost) — I can’t watch scenes of that self-righteous, pompous uber-nerd Radzinsky without the hatred boiling up like a smoke monster. Roger Linus was such a terrible father and all round wretched person, that it’s no wonder little Ben turned out how he did. And Phil was just such a thick-eyebrowed loser that even the island (or at least the magnetism) wanted to see him dead.  Why did the Dharma Initiative recruit the most detestable people?

Senor Chang (Community) is the kind of teacher everyone always fearx: capricious, whacko, and kind of a jerk. Plus he likes to yell! I am even more sad that he’s one of the few Chinese characters on prime time TV and yet I wish he would get fired already.

Sorry to be such a hater on all these characters, but it sure was cathartic to get it out there. Don’t worry. They’re all fictional; they don’t have any feelings. Let’s wish them all gone by next year’s list. Hopefully you agree with some of my list of loves and hates, but if you don’t that’s fine — bring on the comments!

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