Friends

TV Characters We Would All Hate In Real-Life

Joey Tribbiani

Frustrating… Matt Le Blanc as Joey Tribbiani

To be honest, I hate him anyway. I’ve never understood his appeal but to some people, he’s the funniest character on Friends. I doubt the general public would be as loving of him if they knew him in real life. For a start, he is stupid and although it can be charming, he must be frustrating to deal with seeing as he cannot grasp simple conversations. He’s sleazy, sleeping with and then ditching multiple women with no remorse and he often barges in to Monica and Chandler’s apartment demanding food and freeloads off of them in general. Oh, and don’t even get me started on the whole French debacle.

Eric Cartman

Chickenlover

Respect My Authoritah… Evil Eric Cartman (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What is there to say? We all love watching him on South Park but let’s not lose sight of the fact he’s a horrible little kid. He regularly exhibits racist and anti-semitic views, he tricked Butters in to thinking the world was ending so he could go to Kyle’s party in his place, he tried to exterminate the Jews, he injected Kyle with AIDs and he killed a boy’s parents and then made them in to a chilli that the boy unknowingly ate. A very sick individual that I’m sure none of us would like to know.


Ted Mosby

Let it go… Nobody is sure why Ted continues to pester Robin

It says a lot that the main character of a five-piece ensemble cast is the show’s least popular. The whole concept of How I Met Your Mother is based around Ted telling his kids the lengthy story of how he met their mother. Unfortunately, he is sidetracked by a whole lot of neediness, pathetic pining for ‘the one’, despite only being in his twenties. The whole Ted and Robin relationship is the most draining and irritating one to ever take place on the small screen, and since we love Sparkles so much, we blame it on Ted. We’re then left scratching our heads as to why he tells his kids about his various sexual conquests too. He just seems unbearably in need of constant emotional support.

Brian Griffin

Brian Griffin

Smug… Family Guy‘s Brian (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The epitome of ‘liberal douche’ is Brian Griffin. I’m not against Liberalism, I’m actually a Liberal myself but the insufferable way Brian goes on about his political and moral views like he’s some sort of prophet is very irritating. Quagmire sums it up best when he calls him out for pretending to be smart when really he isn’t all that. Plus, if his pompous attitude isn’t enough to turn you off, he’s also a dog, nobody wants to be condescended to by a canine.

Piper Chapman

Naive… OITNB’s Piper in puppet form

If you’ve seen Netflix’s drama sensation Orange is the New Black then you’ll know what an anti-hero Piper Chapman is. She is the show’s protagonist and from the start, we are led to feel sorry for her but then she starts putting her foot in her mouth far too frequently and getting herself in to all sorts of problems that causes us to abandon her. And whenever she is forced to defend herself, she naively states that ‘she never meant for any of this to happen’, will she ever learn?

Charlie Harper

Promiscuous… Charlie Harper

Like Joey Tribbiani, Charlie Harper is a heartless lothario who shows no remorse for the many, many, many women he has wronged – it’s no wonder one of them pushed him in front of a train. And is it me or does he never actually seem to be working?  I don’t watch Two and a Half Men as much as the other shows referenced in this list but I’m certain I would much rather live with Ashton Kutcher.

Susan Delfino

Cutesy… Teri Hatcher as Susan Delfino

Okay, we liked her ditzy antics in the first season of Desperate Housewives and the other housewives seem to tolerate her but I like to think I’d treat her with the same contempt that Edie Britt does.  She’s slyly selfish, constantly putting her needs before others, shown perfectly by her desire to rely on her teenage daughter, Julie for empathy. Her cutesy act would quickly wear thin as would her clumsiness and her apparent inability to keep hold of Mike, the ‘love of her life’. Urgh, she should have been fried by a power line – not Edie.

Barney Stinson

Barney Stinson

Compulsive liar… NPH as Barney Stinson (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You’d have to include Barney for the same reason as Joey Tribbiani and Charlie Harper. He is an absolutely nightmare to women. He uses them for sex and then chucks them plus his compulsive lying would make him exhausting to be around. He’s the sort of person you’d have out grown in high school but may keep him around because you feel sorry for him.

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A Not So Happy Ending

On May 3rd 2013, ABC took the decision to cancel critically acclaimed comedy Happy Endings,  just three seasons in to its life span. Despite efforts from several networks to revive the show – it remains dead.

Undervalued… Happy Endings has been wrongly terminated.

Gimmick… Alex ran out on her wedding in the show’s pilot episode.

Most people are probably unaware of what Happy Endings is all about. I’m sure many know it as an obscure featureless comedy that currently does the rounds on E4 on Tuesday nights but in reality, it rarely gets its due praise. The show focuses around a group of six thirty-somethings in a big American city – unthinkable, I know. But honestly, it’s not like Friends or How I Met Your Mother in any other respect. There is no laugh track, no producer manufacturing humour and subliminally telling you when you ought to giggle. Unlike other sitcoms, the relationships are already formed and the series kicks off with Alex running out on her wedding to boyfriend, Dave. Despite this, the group tries to keep together instead of splitting as two of its members break up. Typically, the characters explore all sorts of quirky ‘sitcomy’ scenarios with various combinations of the six main characters but unlike most sitcoms, that if we’re honest are watchable at best, Happy Endings is legitimately funny. The characters are all likeable, the stories engaging and the jokes all encompassing that you feel like they’re your’s and your friend’s very own private jokes.

Hilarious… (L-R) Penny, Brad and Jane are the stand-out characters.

You’re probably thinking if it was as good as I’m saying it is then it would still be in production and I suppose that may be true. Throughout its tenure, the series received resounding critical acclaim being called “one of the sharpest and warm-hearted comedies on the air” and “the most underrated, under-watched series on TV, that may also be the funniest”.  Initially, the show drew decent ratings stateside often exceeding seven million viewers during its first and second seasons. Then, Happy Endings became the unfortunate victim of schedule congestion and was moved to Friday nights, colloquially known as the ‘Friday night death slot’ among American TV buffs. The ratings plummeted as low as 1.73 million viewers by the series’ penultimate episode resulting in its cancellation. The hardcore cult following it had amassed was nearly enough to grant it a resurrection on a different network but alas, it failed to materialise.

Fortunately for you, the internet exists. I strongly recommend this TV show, which is a slow starter so give it four or five episodes before making a judgement. The characters from neurotic Jane and her quirky husband, Brad to naiive Penny and Alex, righteous Dave and stereotype busting slob, Max, offer something for everyone – especially Eliza Coupe, Casey Wilson and Damon Wayans Jr. who are masterful in their roles. Who knows? Maybe it will emulate Arrested Development and get a deserved redemption a few years down the line and we can see whether Brad, Jane, Alex, Max, Penny and Dave did get their happy endings.

The Non-Conformist View of TV Characters

When you look at the popular sitcoms; Friends, How I Met Your Mother, The Big Bang Theory etc., you can instantly say which characters from these respective shows are the most adulated. For instance, I can say with confidence that of the aforementioned shows, Joey Tribbiani, Barney Stinson and Sheldon Cooper are the most popular among the masses. But why does the common viewer find them so engaging?

Popular… Joey is one of TV’s most favoured characters despite his many personality flaws.

If I run with the three characters I’ve already selected then we can see huge flaws in each’s personality. Starting with Joey, he is moronic, selfish and gluttonous. He often acts with little thought for consequence and goes in to Monica & Chandler’s apartment with the sole intention of gorging himself on their inventory.  Barney Stinson is similarly self-centered. He also shows signs of narcissism not to mention his horrendous promiscuity, a characteristic he shares with Joey too. Sheldon is not comparable with either predecessor in that way, but from what I have seen of The Big Bang Theory (which isn’t that much), he is conceited and cold towards people, even his friends. For all their criticisms, these characters each have positives to go with them but it certainly does make you wonder whether the average viewer would warm to them as much if they knew them in real-life. I do actually like Barney’s character for the most part and can see why people are drawn to this larger-than-life, abnormal persona that they present – entertainment. But at the same time, isn’t it kind of irresponsible to promote such negative personality traits?

Authentic… Lynette’s palpable realism is not rewarded in fans.

Like I say, I do like some of these popular characters but in all honesty, I tend to favour the underdogs of television. A list of some of my favourite TV characters in recent times consists of Super Claire Dunphy, Lynette Scavo, Edie Britt, Jane Kerkovich-Williams, Robin Scherbatsky. What do you notice? All female, all usually unpopular. Now, I don’t really think gender has any dictation on my preference of TV character – it’s merely a coincidence. But what I do see from this list is realism. These could all be real people. If I walk down the street, I could easily bump in to one of these characters. I’m not going to come across a suit worshipper, a ridiculously imbecilic lothario or a big-headed physics snob. Personally, I like to be able to relate to the characters on screen, I like to see myself and others in them. Lynette Scavo and Claire Dunphy are frighteningly realistic and could represent 70% of mothers in Western society, something that cannot be said of their eccentric co-stars. Other characters such as Edie Britt and Robin Scherbatsky, although presented as strong independent women have so much depth and vulnerability especially for two shows that rely on comedic elements.

To be frank, I can’t really fathom why these brain-dead, offbeat types are preferred to the brilliantly observed realistic characters on the box. I think you have to appreciate how much harder it is to write a character in a relatable way. It’s easy to exaggerate mannerisms and actions of a character to the point it becomes ridiculous but to pair the dramatic twists and turns of the small screen with believable characters is well and truly skillful. In fact, it’s a surprise in a generation fascinated by reality TV that these characters are less welcomed but maybe it’s because we hate the fact that these characters remind us… of us.

My favourite things

This blog is completely pointless and narcissistic but I feel like I moan a lot in my posts so I thought I’d share the things I really like and give them a bit of praise.

TV Programmes

“Shut up, I win”… Modern Family is my all-time favourite TV programme

1. Modern Family
Okay, maybe I’ve praised this show enough but then again, I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of gloating about just how good this programme is. Its brilliantly observed  social commentaries, combined with impeccable writing of various types of humour make it a refreshing change from the average US sitcom. It’s already a classic and easily my all-time favourite TV programme.

2. Friends
Given the fact, I’ve spent my entire life watching re-runs of this show on E4 and now Comedy Central, it would be unfair not to have this among my favourites. Unlike Modern Family, it is a typical US sitcom, it’s just a lot funnier than the others.

3. How I Met Your Mother
Funnily enough, I was sceptical of HIMYM when I first heard of it. I assumed it would be a less-funny ode to Friends. And in all honesty, Friends is funnier but HIMYM’s interesting spin on the plot of an average US sitcom and it’s brilliant gimmicks make it stand out from the rest.

4. Desperate Housewives
I don’t even know why I liked this programme so much. It’s just so interesting, a perfect blend of drama and comedy that’s oddly relatable to every day life. At times, it is completely over-the-top and unrealistic but that can be forgiven when you consider it at its best. If you only watch one season of this show, make sure it’s season one.

Films

The force is with Star Wars… my all-time favourite films

1. Star Wars saga
Being honest, I’m not a big film person. Obviously, there are loads of films that I like but few that really stand out. Other than White Chicks and the Lion King, I struggled to think of anything that could compete with this, so it stands alone. Regrettably, I haven’t seen many of cinema’s modern classics (something I intend on correcting every summer but never do). Anyway, Star Wars is the ultimate sci-fi saga. I spent a lot of my childhood being obsessed with this franchise, meaning I have something like 20 lightsabers stored underneath my bed. It really is a great film, and yes the original trilogy is far better. It still shocks me that some people have never seen these films… and I hate them for it.

Albums

“‘Cause this is Thriller. Thriller night!”

1. Thriller
This is simply put the best album ever made. Featuring so many of MJ’s classsics including Thriller, Billie Jean, Beat It, P.Y.T., Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’, The Girl is Mine and Human Nature, you can see why it’s the biggest selling album of all-time and my favourite.

2. Aim & Ignite
Okay, Fun. burst on to the chart scene in Spring 2012, with their hit “We Are Young” taken from their second studio album, Some Nights. While, that album is superb and only just misses out on a spot in the top 5, Fun.’s lesser known predecessor is even better. It’s melodic from start to finish with brilliantly crafted songs and lyrics that really make you think. It’s a shame they didn’t get much recognition for this album too.

3. Fearless
I don’t really care about the stigma attached to picking a Taylor Swift album as one of your favourites. I have a quiet love for country music and she has a well-known talent for song writing. In all honesty, I could have selected either Speak Now or Red to join the top five too but this album is just about her best.

4. Songs About Jane
When you were young, every family had that one album that you played in the car non-stop, every journey. This was ours. It really is brilliant.

5. Rumours
Again, a worldwide recognised classic. My love for this album probably again stems back to my quiet love for country and guitar music. It features many of the bands classics and is hard not to like. Although, funnily enough when I first heard this album, I hated it.

It’s worth noting, these are also my five favourite artists. Honourable mention to S Club 7 for providing the soundtrack of my childhood and yes, I still have a cheeky  S Club party every now and then.

Holiday destinations

Bude-iful… My favourite holiday destination

1. Bude
Ideally, an average looking seaside town in Cornwall is not the place you want to go on holiday. It’s mostly for personal reasons that I’ve picked this as number-one. Nearly everyone has a holiday destination their family goes to often. Bude is that for my family.

2. Los Angeles
Most people say LA isn’t as good as it’s hyped up to be. But it really is, the climate, the people and the sights are all incredible. It’s a place you simply have to visit.

3. San Francisco
San Fran is a great city of diversity, it has such a varied nature to it, there are rural areas, coastal areas, Skegness-esque areas and big city areas. Accompanied by the climate which is great too, it’s a must visit. In fact, if it weren’t for the USA’s gun crime problem, the San Andreas fault and its proximity to Yellowstone, I’d move to California in a heartbeat.

4. Canary Islands
Particularly Gran Canaria and Tenerife, these islands are wonderful, just off the coast of Africa, it is always hot and just a great place to be.

Modern Family. Modern Classic.

“Welcome back to the Modern Family awards” was the line Jane Lynch comically read out as Modern Family continued to steamroll its competition at the most recent Primetime Emmy awards. As it takes its rightful place at the top of the TV throne

In just three short seasons, comedy sensation Modern Family has already received eleven Primetime Emmy awards as well as thirty-one nominations, more than FriendsSeinfeld and Desperate Housewives, a feat achieved in a third of the time of the other three.

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We are the champions… Modern Family wins big at the Emmys.

The reasons as to why Modern Family has achieved such remarkable success since its debut in 2009 comes down to two key factors; hilariously diverse characters and impeccable writing.

Modern Family features an ensemble cast headed by the wonderfully-talented adult roster of Ed O’Neill, Sofia Vergara, Julie Bowen, Ty Burrell, Eric Stonestreet and Jesse Tyler Ferguson. Jay Pritchett (O’Neill) is the extended family’s patriarch now living with his much younger, fiesty Colombian wife, Gloria (Vergara) and her son, Manny. Bowen plays stressed-out mother of three, Claire Dunphy who lives with her husband, Phil (Burrell) and gay couple Cam (Stonestreet) and Mitch (Ferguson) complete the cast. Just from these six characters, the show throws up a unique blend of personality. The characters are remarkably relatable and allow the writers to venture in to various comedic scenarios from performing an ice-skating routine in a car park to being attacked by a ruthless pigeon.

But perhaps what is most promising about the sitcom’s brilliantly talented cast is the hilarity of its kid stars. Many TV shows would be more than satisfied to throw the kids in to the back seat but Modern Family is different, relying nearly as much on its child cast to provide laughs as its adult one. Sarah Hyland (actually 21), Ariel Winter, Nolan Gould and Rico Rodriguez show no signs of inexperience often proving pivotal in the series’ funniest moments.

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“What are we, a cricket team?”… The family pose for a family portrait in season one’s finale

The writing is the other key attribute that has helped propel Modern Family  to success. The show is set up as a ‘mockumentary’, complete with interviews from the family members revolving around the events of the episode, allowing the inclusion of more plot detail in order to further the story or set up a gag. This style of filming also allows the cast to acknowledge the camera; the stolen glances towards the lens often leaves viewers in stitches of laughter at the most opportune of moments. The writers also take the opportunity to wrap up the majority of the episodes with a warm, charming life lesson pertaining to the current episodes, creating an authentic family atmosphere about the series.

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“Now all that driving your mom does will serve a purpose.”

Of course, Modern Family‘s success cannot just be measured by it’s massive collection of 138 award nominations (that’s 1.9 awards per episode) but by its viewership. In the States, Modern Family is going from strengh-to-strength with ratings increasing from on average of 9.39 million viewers in 2009 to 13.01 million in 2012, seeing it regularly beat the American version of The X Factor in it’s Wednesday time-slot. Modern Family even has a loyal band of followers here in the United Kingdom, regularly achieving close to a million viewers without the benefit of a prime-time slot nor a major channel.

Modern Family continues to storm award shows and the ratings with it still feeling as fresh as ever 72 episodes in to its glorious reign as TV’s hottest sitcom. Personally, Modern Family is a favourite of mine, it could be due to its incredibly gifted cast, the sharp, intelligent writing or the fact that the show reminds me of my own family. But the fact of the matter is, Modern Family is getting stronger and funnier with each passing episode as it continues its quest to cement its status as a TV classic. I know that throughout this article, I’ve nearly run out of superlatives to describe this near flawless show but it’s imperative that you don’t get me wrong. Modern Family is no Seinfeld or Friends… It’s much better.

P.S. I dare you to watch and not love it – http://www.cucirca.com/2011/01/23/modern-family-season-1-episode-1-pilot/