Last week, Dustin explored the problem with female TV characters. He wrote, “It’s nice to see women featured prominently, but why must so many of these women be so thoroughly unlikable?” While I don’t disagree with his article, I have to say, I think the male problem is worse. The word “anti-hero” gets tossed around a lot these days in reference to many of our dramatic (and even comedic) leads, but I do not think it means what you think it means. While the notion of the anti-hero rejects the ideal, knight in shining armor, good guy prototype, it is not license for unmitigated asshattery. You call Raylan Givens, the boys from “Terriers,” Dexter Morgan or even Jackson Teller an anti-hero, I might buy it. But our televisions are also flooded with guys who are out and out d*cks. Vain men who treat their friends, family and women poorly and yet demand our sympathy and support. That asshole with a deeply buried heart of gold schtick may work well in film or literature; mediums with a defined beginning middle and end, but in television, it’s hard to maintain sympathy with a character who doesn’t change, season in and season out. No redemption, no progress, just repetitive bad behavior. And I’m losing patience. Here is a gallery of the biggest toolbars masquerading as heroes. I’m not a fan.
Don Draper—“Mad Men”: As much as I loathe January Jones and Betty Draper, I too would have divorced Don, in a heartbeat. The character that was so alluring in Season One has lost a lot of luster due to his inability to grow and reject some his self-destructive habits. His treatment of his staff, his children and his ladyloves make me cringe. My sympathy is on the wane.
Dr. Derek Shepard—“Grey’s Anatomy”: How this ass was ever anyone’s idea of McDreamy is beyond me. But what was once benign arrogance has grown this season into full blown megalomania. (Yes I am still watching this show. No I do not know why.)
Dr. Ben Harmon—“American Horror Story”: Who is this cat? Why should I care at all about him or his chances of survival? A few episodes in and [SPOILER] he has already murdered his young, impressionable, PREGNANT lover and buried her under a gazebo. He may not be the “hero,” but he certainly is the protagonist and I hope I’m not expected to care when he dies at the hand of a ghost gimp, or whatever.
Dr. Gregory House—“House””: What was once a highly amusing, intelligent performance from one of the better actors on Primetime TV has now become a joke. How can we possibly bring ourselves to be bothered with the trials and tribulations of Gregory House after eight years of rehab/no rehab, malicious practical jokes and WHY ON EARTH IS WILSON STILL FRIENDS WITH HIM?? I can’t care. I just am all out of care.
Sherlock Holmes—“Sherlock”: Eh, I do love what Cumberbatch is doing with this role, but I’m thankful this series was brief and that the hiatus has been long. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Dr. House is, of course, a modernization of Sherlock, so let’s hope Cumberbatch doesn’t wear out his welcome they way Laurie has.
Schmidt—“The New Girl”: Pretty much the only thing keeping me watching this show is Jake Johnson’s Nick. Max Greenfield’s Schmidt, on the other hand, is grinding my last nerve. The show is new and he has room to grow, but thus far, I am not impressed.
Will Schuester—“Glee”: In the land of douches that is McKinley High School, this guy is king.
Barney Stinson—“How I Met Your Mother”: I’m sorry. He’s an asshole. He’s an adorable, amusing asshole, but he’s an asshole nonetheless. He’s fantastic comic relief (which is where I’m hoping “The New Girl“‘s Schmidt stays.) And yet he’s the male half of the biggest ship since Ross and Rachel?!? (Also, *ssholes.) Stop giving a sh*t about the mutually destructive Robin and Barney and get on board the USS Ben & Leslie, people.
Jeff Winger—“Community”: The only ship worse than Barney and Robin is Jeff Winger and anybody. Self-absorbed and shallow, Winger keeps learning the same sitcom lessons over and over. And never changing. I loved him the first season because I hoped he would evolve. Maybe creator Dan Harmon is subverting certain sitcom rules (his favorite practice) by stubbornly refusing to let his characters grow emotionally. But while I’ll never tire of the whip crack dialogue, I’m starting to get bored with these emotionally stunted individuals. OH YES I SAID THAT. Once again, give me the sweetness of “Parks and Recreation.”
All These Assholes—“The League”: These guys still have my affection and I’m not sure why. They’re cutting it close, though.
Every Single One Of These D*cks—“It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia”: While I bless this series for giving me Charlie Day, I cannot stand these characters. Never could.
Joanna Robinson would miss Troy and Abed, but she’s beginning to think she wouldn’t miss Jeff Winger. Not one bit.