There are some TV characters we hate. With a deep, soul churning disdain. Your Joffrey Baratheons (“Game Of Thrones”) or Pete Campbells (“Mad Men”). When they get kicked down or slapped around, we cheer. Then there are those we love to hate. A Benjamin Linus (“Lost”), perhaps. Or our dearly departed Chloe (“Don’t Trust the B”). This list is neither of those. It’s a list of characters I used to hate but now adore. Characters I thought were being set up as villains but either by dint of twisty storytelling or an absolutely incredible performance, I’ve come to cherish these ten. I can’t believe I ever hated them.
Adam Sackler — “Girls”: This is a big one and the inspiration for this entire list. When “Girls” premiered last year, Adam Driver’s character was set up as a sort of sneering sh*tbag. Not that our heart belonged to Hannah, but it hurt to see him so dismissive of her in general. And then 3/4 of the way through last season everything changed. Driver’s character grew on us and, as it turns out, we had the whole dynamic wrong. At this point he is, in my opinion, the most sympathetic and relatable character on the show. Dunham writes him the best speeches (two week ago with the carnival prize speech and this week in AA). I could have picked a million other, “better” photos of Driver but I was especially delighted by his interaction with Carol Kane last night. Driver the actor just seemed pleased as punch to be in a scene with her. Who wouldn’t be?
Sasha Torres — “Bunheads”: This little prickly pear started out as one of the more noxious components on “Bunheads.” None of the younger actresses really had it together when the show started and, in my opinion Julia Goldani Telles was the weakest links. (Though the finest dancer.) Unkind to her friends, petulant and entitled, Sasha was a mean girl through and through. But as we delved into more of her back story and as Telles matured as a performer (yes I know it’s only been one season), the Sasha character wormed her way into my heart. Now she’s some sort of poor abandoned waif turned Martha Stewart. And I love her.
Jaime Lannister — “Game Of Thrones”: Did you forget that this man started the series by (uh, SPOILER ALERT?) f*cking his sister and tossing little scamps out of tower windows? You did, didn’t you? You were so charmed by his prison beard and his interactions with Brienne that you completely forgot what a monster he is. Well, book readers may remember a similar case of amnesia hitting them in Book 3 of the series. Jamie Lannister gets his own POV chapters in “Storm Of Swords” and the whole world view tilts a little. Yeah he’s still an incestuous crippler of children, but he’s a dashed charming one.
Crosby Braverman — “Parenthood”: The character of Crosby Braverman had a lot working against him. I mean, when “Parenthood” premiered we were expecting Dax Shepard of “Punk’d” and Without A Paddle fame. He’s since become beloved fiancé of Veronica Mars and giver of sloth gifts, but we didn’t know that then. We also didn’t know he was capable of such depth. Crosby Braverman started the show as the undeniable black sheep of the family. Living on a house boat, lying to his girlfriend. Etc. And it’s been a slow road to where he is now, but all along the way Shepard played Crosby with such adorable, hapless sweetness that the audience is inclined to merely swat him on the nose with a rolled up newspaper every time he messes up. You see ol’ Sw1mf@n down there? She’s basically a stand-in for the audience. And Crosby? He brings us to the sloth-loving meltdown tears.
Dahlia Royce — “Suburgatory”: Actress Carly Chaikin’s delivery is so weird. You have to see it to believe it. She’s never not a valley girl robot. And while her dead-eyed delivery and, once again, mean girl demeanor were initially off-putting, they are now oddly endearing. “Daddy Altman” is a particularly sweet touch.
Cary Agos — “The Good Wife”: Originally cast as a smarmy, yuppy antagonist to the titular Good Wife, Alicia Florrick, Agos has since grown into a fully formed and fully lovely character. I hate Matt Czuchry on “Gilmore Girls” so was prepared to hate him forever here. Damnit. He’s too great. Sporting excellent sexual tension with Archie Panjabi and a lovely (though sometimes tenuous) camaraderie with Alicia, he’s become one of my favorite in a show of packed to the rafters with monstrously talented actors.
Dr. Mindy Lahiri — “The Mindy Project”: I’m so glad I stuck with this show. I know most people chucked it early on. And I don’t blame them. The show was a messy hotbed of too many characters anchored by a wholly unlikable lead. But the show has since toned down Mindy’s more abrasive characteristics and she’s become a lovely, charming everywoman. A more fashion-focused Liz Lemon. She’s lovely to her friends and good at her job. Hapless? Maybe. But this last episode with Seth Rogen (where she, oh yeah, briefly considered planting drugs on him so he would be kicked out of the Army) was a series highlight. Okay so maybe they haven’t toned down all her unlikable qualities. But like Jessica Day (grating for the first few episodes of “New Girl”) and Leslie Knope (irritating for an entire season) before her, I’m hoping Dr. Mindy Lahiri will become an entirely beloved TV character. It helps that she’s surrounded herself with excellent guest stars (BJ Novak, Mark Duplass) and a solid supporting cast (Chris Messina for all the things.)
Daryl Dixon — “The Walking Dead”: Once a redneck *sshole, Daryl has since become the heart and soul of the show and everyone’s favorite character. EVERYONE’S. I don’t know if it’s his penchant for ponchos, his fashionably greasy hair or his adorable way with babies. But he’s it, man. You kill him? We riot.