TV’s Top Characters – Honorable Mention

**Note: With this series having to be pushed back a day, this post now falls on April Fools Day. I considered doing some kind of joke post, but couldn’t really come up with anything adequate. So this is the legit end to my series on the best characters on TV**

The Top 10 series finally has been completed, but there are still plenty of other characters worthy of note that couldn’t crack that list. So I thought I would take the time to recognize some of them.

The Taylor Family (Friday Night Lights)

I really wanted to include someone from Friday Night Lights in the Top 10 because of how excellent the show is, but I just couldn’t make a case for it.

First of all, whether they’re even candidates is debatable, since the show technically is now over. The series finale has already been filmed and aired on DirecTV, but the show will have a final summer run on NBC. So you could argue for either side of “Is the show currently on air?”

Plus, it’s impossible to limit this entry to just one character. Coach Eric Taylor may be the protagonist, but the family dynamic is what makes all of them cumulatively great. What happens on the football field is not the interesting part of Friday Night Lights, which is where NBC (as usual) screwed up in its promotion of the show.

What made the show so excellent was everything that happened off the field, both in the locker room and at home. The Taylor family is what made this show one of the best and most underappreciated dramas in recent memory. The way the show was written and filmed made everything raw, real and natural.

Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton also turned in equally brilliant acting performances, so it’s impossible to single out only one character from the family. They are one entity.

Liz Lemon (30 Rock)

Honestly, if I had to do it again I would put Liz in the Top 10 instead of Stewie. I included Stewie basically as an homage to how great he once was, but that was because I totally forgot about Tina Fey’s caricatured version of herself. Then by the time I realized my mistake, I already had written the first three posts and it was too late to go back. Oh well.

Liz is great because she’s a rare case of a female character that is likeable without being glamorous. Female television characters tend to be portrayed as nearly perfect, with exceptional physical beauty and fashion sense.

But Liz is the best female character currently on TV because she’s just a normal, everyday woman who is still successful in her career, but prefers wearing stained shirts and sweatpants. Liz is a strong character in many of the same ways that Chuck Bartowski is.

Cameron Tucker (Modern Family)

The only reason Cam isn’t in the Top 10 is because two other Modern Family characters already were and I wanted to give some credit to other shows. That’s just how well-crafted Modern Family’s cast of characters is; the show legitimately has three of the best comedy characters on TV.

Cam’s penchant for the dramatic is always hilarious, and the relationship between Cam and Mitchell may be the funniest on the show. Eric Stonestreet also deserves special credit for turning in an incredible performance in a role that is absolutely nothing like his actual personality.

Peggy Olson (Mad Men)

I waffled on whether to include Peggy in the Top 10 because at times I think she belongs and at other times I don’t. I think the Mad Men writers sometimes aren’t exactly sure what to do with her. I like that she is a single woman working hard to get ahead in not only a man’s world, but one also dominated by sexism.

I think the character is a very good example of the lesson that you can achieve your goals and overcome obstacles with hard work and determination. I also appreciate that she is a deeply flawed character and is one of the few females currently on TV that has been given legitimate layers.

But there are other times that those layers seem to disappear. In my opinion, her entire subplot pining after Pete set the character back. Peggy originally was great because she didn’t need a man to validate herself, but she seemed to lose that complexity once her forbidden relationship with Pete began.

Then in Season 3 she largely took a back seat to everything else going on in the office, with the only real focus on her being “Will she stay or will she go?” But again, that question revolved around a seemingly forbidden relationship, this time with Duck Phillips. For a character that started out being a very strong female role model, she fell into the trap of “everything has to revolve around a man” awfully quickly.

I admit I haven’t completed Season 4 of Mad Men yet, and from what I understand by the end of the season she is firmly entrenched as a main character. But in the episodes I’ve seen so far, I just don’t think she has been consistently solid enough to warrant a place in the Top 10.

Maw Maw (Raising Hope)

I’d be willing to bet the majority of people reading this have never seen Raising Hope. Well, you should. If you only hear the premise of the show, it may not sound entertaining or interesting. But it is, and Maw Maw is one of the main reasons why.

Played by the legendary Cloris Leachman, Maw Maw is a senile old woman who is so crazy retirement homes won’t take her. She is a serial scene stealer, but the writers wisely have kept her in the background of the show to avoid overloading the audience.

While that is a good decision, it also is the reason she doesn’t belong in the Top 10. She really hasn’t had much development – which is partially due to the fact that the show is still in its first season – and she is kind of a one-note character, although that one note is consistently hilarious.

Temperance Brennan (Bones)

Brennan is one of the most unique female characters on TV. She was given qualities that usually are reserved for men, which makes her an interesting protagonist. She also has had plenty of focus on her home life throughout the show with her search for and eventual reconnection with her family.

So while the writers did a good job crafting the character, what prevents her from breaking into elite status is how they handle her on a week-to-week basis. The “will they/won’t they” tension with Booth was always a bit derivative, and I actually found the Hodgins/Angela relationship to be more interesting.

Plus, as the show has parodied multiple times, what is interesting about Bones is the interaction between the characters, not the cases. As I’ve written before, the cases are formulaic and predictable. Yet that is the only thing she is concerned about on a regular basis.

She gets occasional strong character moments, but I think the growth of everyone else around her somewhat dwarfs her development by comparison.

Sheldon Cooper (The Big Bang Theory)

I have only included this character because he is so commonly lauded, but I have to be honest and say I no longer like Sheldon. I may be in the minority in this opinion, but at this point I find him annoying.

I liked The Big Bang Theory when it focused mainly on Leonard and Penny, with Sheldon acting as a funny character in the background who got the spotlight every once in a while. Like I said earlier, I think it’s wise that Raising Hope has avoided Maw Maw overload. But I think the TBBT writers made the mistake of doing the opposite with Sheldon.

Sheldon gradually has become the focus of the show, and as he has my annoyance with him has grown. I can’t put my finger on exactly why I’ve grown so frustrated with the character, but I have. To the point that I no longer watch TBBT. I appreciate that Jim Parsons gives an excellent performance in the role, but the character just gets on my nerves.


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