This season of new shows has definitely not been ground-breaking, and that is reflected in the somewhat flat landscape of new characters. Nevertheless, I have found a few characters to love on new shows like The Grinder and Scream Queens. However, I also found some new characters that I just hate as well (though not as many).
Characters I Love
I’ve noticed that scene-chewing divas often make my list. Perhaps it’s because their personalities are so different from my own that it feels like an escape for me to watch them. This year I’ve picked none other than Empire matriarch Cookie Lyon to wave the banner. She is definitely a force to be reckoned with whether she’s fighting for her share of her ex-husband’s musical empire, or defending her sons and trying to protect them. She is often dressed in crazy-stylish outfits, with nails and earrings that make me wonder “Who buys this stuff?”, but she carries it all off with such confidence and attitude that it really works. The one odd thing (that I don’t think they’re going to resolve any time soon) is the love-hate relationship she has with her ex, Lucius Lyon. I guess friction makes for exciting “drama” and if there was ever a word to describe Cookie, that’d be the one.
Ironically, from Scream Queens, I didn’t choose the diva Chanel Oberlin, but instead one of her minions, Chanel No. 3. It’s hard to explain why because she’s not exactly one of the breakout characters of that show (or maybe she is). She is oddly laid-back for someone in a sorority ruled by the high-strung Oberlin (and while they’re all being hunted by a pair of serial killers in devil costumes). She too has an interesting personal style (What is up with the earmuffs?) but I think it’s her off-beat, superior kind of confidence that I like. Ultimately I am sure she could take down any of the red-devil killers — or her back-stabbing sorority sisters.
Another off-beat diva who used to annoy me is Gina Linetti, the admin assistant on Brooklyn Nine-nine. This year I choose her to represent that wonderful ensemble on my list. Gina used to be the kind of quirky, smug, self-absorbed kind of character that I did not like, mainly because I find them over-bearing and annoying. However, Gina has since mellowed quite a bit, having been involved with nice-guy Boyle, and having left the office for a while when Captain Holt was exiled to the PR division. Now a kinder, gentler, team-player version of Gina has returned, but she’s still got her trademark clever edge.
Finally, last of my lady-loves is Kimmy Schmidt from The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, whose uniqueness doesn’t come only from her tabloid-bait backstory of being held captive in a bunker by a false doomsday cult leader, but her blend of openness, generosity, courage, determination, spunk and naivete are just delightful. I love how she’s learned all kinds of lessons from her time in the bunker (We can all endure anything bad for 10 seconds at a time) and how she’s really willing to make the best of every situation she’s in. Her incredible positivity is also unlike my own personality, and maybe that’s why I find her such a refreshing character. I am not quite sure what they’ll do with her next season, but I know it will be fun.
As a member of a visible minority, it’s no surprise that I’m happy that diversity of ethnic representation is growing on TV. What makes me even happier is that I actually like some of these minority characters on the shows that I enjoy. Granted, these two are barely characters (they’re basically little walking punchlines), but I find Evan and Emery Huang from Fresh Off the Boat quite adorable. The two cute little brothers of main character Eddie are always showing him up either by being more adorable, more polite, smarter, better in school, (Emery is even better with girls than Eddie) and more Chinese. I’m hoping that they will become more developed in the season to come, but I still enjoy their scenes. Let’s hope they don’t grow up too fast either.
Another scene-stealing sidekick is Cisco Ramon, buddy to The Flash. While he’s got some pretty trippy super-powers of his own, he’s mostly playing back-up and support to Barry/The Flash when he’s out on the run. Cisco’s kind of nerdy, being an inventor of gadgets at STAR Labs and nick-namer of super-villains, but he doesn’t ever seem embarrassed by it. In many ways, he’s the glue holding the team together, always there with a quick-witted remark or nickname. He also invents many of the handy devices they use to stop the bad guys. He makes a great team-mate for the hero and he so often not only says what we’re all thinking, but in a much cleverer way.
Another great sidekick-hero is Foggy Nelson from Daredevil. He’s such a good guy and is so willing to help (which is a really great quality for people living in the slums of Hell’s Kitchen). Also, he’s very witty and self-deprecatingly funny. He’s a real charmer. It was tragic when he learned that his best friend Matt had lied to him all this time about being the black mask vigilante. Nevertheless, Foggy is really the kind of character you want to trust and have on your side (just what a sidekick is supposed to be).
Finally, in the “love” column is Stewart Sanderson, the prodigal son’s younger brother on The Grinder. Now that his TV celebrity brother, Dean, has moved back to his home town, he’s constantly getting into Stewart’s life. Stewart is the opposite of flamboyant, scene-stealer, Dean and he prefers a normal, unassuming life of relaxed ordinariness. I love the way Stewart is, on one hand, trying to help Dean understand what real life is all about, but on the other hand trying to keep Dean from getting too involved in his own life. It’s also amusing how he’s like the only one around not won over by his brother’s charms. He’s constantly trying to prove that the emperor is not wearing any clothes. The character’s put-upon nature as well as Fred Savage’s wonderfully subtle portrayal makes me really enjoy this character.
Characters I Hate
As usual, “hate” is a very strong word. I don’t know that I feel so badly towards these characters below. They just kind of annoy me. Many of them are actually related to beloved characters above — why couldn’t these guys be more like them?
Often seen with Emery and Evan Huang on Fresh Off The Boat is Grandma Huang, who is extremely odd. She’s meant to be a walking contradiction (or rather a rolling, since she’s wheelchair bound — presumably from having her feet bound in her youth). She’s meant to be both traditionally Chinese (since she only speaks Chinese on the show, with subtitles) and she also supposedly “gets it”, often understanding Eddie’s slang, and making her own culturally-relevant comments in Mandarin. I find her annoying because she is always kind of grumpy and she has very off-the-wall opinions and interests all the time. She seems random for random’s sake and that bugs me. I guess it’s meant to counter the stereotype of the wise, old Asian, but I don’t like her.
On The Flash, we’ve already got the lovable Cisco as a partner in heroism, so I don’t quite know why we need Dr. Caitlin Snow as well. At first she was there to help Barry Allen after the accident that turned him into The Flash, and then she was the tragic bride to Firestorm, but now she’s just kind of a super-blah dork. She has a precious Pollyanna attitude and she’s always their to help out with the magical science solutions. She’s really got very little edge and that makes her kind of boring (not that everyone who’s boring deserves hatred). Since we’ve already seen a glimpse of Caitlin’s future as my favourite icy super-villainess Killer Frost, let’s hurry up and get her bitten by a radioactive snowball or whatever it takes to transform her. Maybe a killer personality will finally make her cool (no pun intended!)
This season of Game of Thrones definitely had its highs and lows for me. However, one of the lows is another pathetic son of Baratheon. Now that previous hatee King Joffrey is dead, younger brother Tommen carries on that torch by being a whiny wimp. Granted, it’s tough when you come to the throne as a tween, and then you get your way-out-of-your-league, beautiful wife Margaery taken by the High Sparrow. Once he realizes that his whining to Queen mommy does nothing, what more can he do but sulk? I never thought I would find another Baratheon boy-king to make me wonder whether my hatred for Joffrey was ill-spent.
Finally, the Scream Queens were full of girl-powered bitchiness and neo-proto-feminist rants, but what about their male counterparts? The Dicky Dollar Scholars was hardly much of a fraternity as it only seemed to be there to express the whims of its leader, Chad Radwell. This entitled rich boy was so full of himself, yet all the ladies seemed enamoured of him (what’s up with that, ladies? He’s a tool!). Of course, when we finally saw the family he came from, there’s no denying how close the fruit fell from that tree. Flawed as Chanel Oberlin is, I’m glad she got away from Chad in the end. Too bad they still kind of deserve each other.
I’d say we didn’t do too badly in 2015. A few more fun characters to love, and not too bad on the hate-ometer. However, maybe 2016 will bring some more interesting characters to the shows that I enjoy so next year’s list will be twice as fun.