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You Deserve Better Than This, My Friend: Actors Who Should Be So Much More Than They Are

By Courtney Enlow | Lists | August 30, 2011 |

By Courtney Enlow | Lists | August 30, 2011 |

You know those actors you really like, even though their CV doesn’t give you all that many reasons? Those who perhaps peaked early, or showed great potential, then just sort of floundered?

Some actors just age out of themselves, and that’s fine. That happens. If I had my way, Molly Ringwald would still be famous instead of languishing on “The Secret Life of the American Teenager,” but at least she’s working. And also, that show is fucking bananas, so I’m kind of glad she’s on it, because it’s a good excuse to watch it sometimes. Seriously. That show is batshit.

Sometimes whole casts of shows are fated into a career in mediocrity following one magical moment. The entire cast of “NewsRadio,” arguably one of the best shows in the history of television, kind of petered out, and not a single one of them deserved to do so (I might be overstating this with a couple of them, but you cannot argue their greatness on this show). Yes, they still do things, but they don’t do the kinds of things worthy of the potential displayed early on, or of the show that gave them their careers. God, Maura Tierney should be bigger. I blame you.

But, ultimately, success doesn’t always come to those who should receive it. And, to that end, I present five performers who truly deserve better than the [I want to say the m-e-h word here, but I’m scared of Rowles] careers that have followed.

5. Robin Tunney


You will quickly notice that this entire list remains employed, some even on popular television shows. That’s not what this is about. This is about the individual levels of success that should have been obtained. In the case of Robin Tunney, yes, she co-stars on a popular CBS show, “The Mentalist.” But if you don’t watch it, would you know that? That’s what I’m talking about. Everyone knows Nathan Fillion is on “Castle” or Alyson Hannigan is on “How I Met Your Mother,” even if you don’t watch the shows. Despite accidentally catching multiple episodes (I don’t watch it because I like “Psych” and I shouldn’t have to explain that) and seeing many previews, I have a serious Memento disease with the fact that Robin Tunney is on this show. This lady is incredibly talented, spending the whole of the mid-’90s actressin’ her balls off for your enjoyment. She’s outstanding. But why she’s a second banana on a procedural, I cannot tell you.

4. Jason Lee


Think back to 1998. Did a single one of you for a second think Jason Lee wouldn’t be big? Did you think he’d do three or four completely forgotten comedies, one with a similarly forgotten Tom Green, and then wallow for a while until someone gave him a TV show, which would then be unceremoniously cancelled a few years later? He falls into the “at least he’s employed” category, no starring on TNT’s “Memphis Beat,” but there was a time that seemed like a foregone conclusion, rather than a happy relief.

3. Tom Everett Scott


This one fell into the “at least TNT gave him a job” with seemingly everyone else I enjoyed in the ’90s, but now (spoiler) his character’s fired, so he doesn’t even get to be on that list anymore. He’s now second from the bottom of the list of Dead Man On Campus stars ranked by employment. And that’s sad.

2. Tom Cavanagh


Every time I do a list, it usually means there was some discovery or impetus that incensed me and made me need to list on it. And, this time, that impetus was Tom Cavanagh. I’ve been listening to a lot of the “Mike and Tom Eat Snacks” podcast, featuring Tom and Michael Ian Black, and dammit, I’d forgotten how much I like this guy. Affable, funny and with a Rudd-sian level of agelessness (he’s forty-goddamn-seven!), Cavanagh is now largely featured in Hallmark Christmas movies and Yogi Fucking Bear. Not okay.

1. Judy Greer


Yesterday, it was announced that Judy Greer would be joining the cast of “Two and a Half Men” as Ashton Kutcher’s love interest. There’s not a single thing in that sentence that makes a damn bit of sense. Judy has gotten a lot of love around these parts, first gaining attention as the best part of the bizarrely liked by many, wholly patronizing film, What Women Want. Judy, you’re adorable, funny and skilled as fuck. Like an expensive food processor used to crush crayons, I’m sorry they don’t use you right. Hopefully Jeff Who Lives At Home will help wash the Kutcher stank.

Well, those are the big five. Who do you think should have been great (or, at the very least, greater than they became)?

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