2010 Primies: Best Characters

By on Dec 31, 2010 in The Primies |

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In the waning hours of 2010, allow me to kick-start the Second Annual Primie Awards. Below are my favorite fifteen characters from the past year of television, again listed in descending order of awesomeness. (One could only dream of a context that would bring all of them together to share the screen!)

  1. Kalinda Sharma (The Good Wife) If mystery is sexy, Kalinda is a bombshell. The tight-lipped private investigator radiates allure and ambiguity while keeping herself impassive and collected… most of the time. And when she let her emotions show, she does so in grand fashion, like taking a baseball bat to her rival’s car before leaving a kiss on the rear-view. She wins cool points even when she loses her cool. Played by Archie Panjabi.
  2. Phil Dunphy (Modern Family) There’s not one weak link on this show, but this year, I’m honoring Phil. (Or, as Gloria would say, “Feeeeel.”) He’s so desperate in his attempts to stay hip and cool that it’s embarrassing, but in a weird way, it’s so embarrassing that he actually becomes kinda cool again. Huh. Played by Ty Burrell.
  3. Olivia Dunham (Fringe) On our side, Olivia is empathetic, cool, and logical. In the alternate universe, she’s combative, single-minded, and impulsive—oh, and a redhead. When the two Olivias switched universes, each camouflaged herself like the other (by choice or otherwise), and the inherent difficulties and dilemmas were the highlights of the season so far. Played by Anna Torv.
  4. Brittany Pierce (Glee) Who would have guessed that Brittany would be the new fan favorite in Season 2? Credit her brilliantly-dumb observations and her insane footwork, both of which were on full display in the episode devoted to her, “Britney/Brittany.” Played by Heather Morris.
  5. Raylan Givens (Justified) Not only does this U.S. Marshal have a fun name to say out loud (and it must be said with a Southern accent), but he is also a helluva shot who vacillates between even- and hot-temperedness. It’s like he’ll try to calmly reason with you for five minutes before pulling his sidearm and shooting you between the eyes. Played by Timothy Olyphant.
  6. Ellie Torres (Cougar Town) The role of “bitchy best friend” has been overplayed, but Ellie Torres revitalizes the trope with cutting wit and grudging love. As far as the Culde-sac Crew is concerned, she’s the cool kid on the block—the one by whom everyone wants to be liked. Hell, we all want Ellie to like us. Played by Christa Moore.
  7. Dan Stark (The Good Guys) With all due respect to Josh Lyman, Dan Stark was the role Bradley Whitford was born to play. With a mustache second only to last year’s honoree Ron Swanson, Dan is a washed-up, libidinous joke of a detective who only stumbles into the the answers. But that never hurts his swag. Played by Bradley Whitford.
  8. Holly Holliday (Glee) She may have only been on the show for one episode, but that’s all I needed to fall in love with this goofy, impulsive, hip substitute teacher. Between the Cee Lo singing, the Lindsay Lohan opining, and the Mary Todd Lincoln impersonating, Holly brought new levels of fun to the humdrum Lima High. Played by Gwyneth Paltrow.
  9. Holly Flax (The Office) Her reappearance this year was fleeting, but she brings new life to the The Office whenever she shows up in Scranton. Whereas Michael’s other leading ladies only tolerated his goofiness, Holly matches it. When the jokes end, though, the reality of their former relationship and ensuing tension shine through. Still, if Michael is truly driving his Sebring into the sunset at the end of this season, I’m hoping Holly is riding shotgun. Played by Amy Ryan.
  10. Gustavo Fring (Breaking Bad) Owner of the Los Pollos Hermanos fast-food chain by day, drug kingpin—well—also by day. Not only did he confront and subdue the Mexican cartel, but he also wrangled Walt into producing blue meth in bulk. And his emotionlessness and unflappability only make him even more intimidating. Played by Giancarlo Esposito.
  11. Ria Torres (Lie to Me) Some characters don’t need a firearm or a killer right hook to be a badass. Ria will outwit or at least out-glare the guy across the interrogation table until he’s spilling the truth. What she lacks in training she more than makes up for in street smarts, improvisation, and spot-on instincts. Played by Monica Raymund.
  12. Sarah Braverman (Parenthood) It’d be difficult to dislike any of the Braverman clan, but Sarah is especially endearing because of her self-deprecating motormouth and social inelegance. (How Gilmorean.) Her lot in life could be pitiable, but she’s a trouper—and good things come to her eventually. Played by Lauren Graham.
  13. Zoe Graystone (Caprica) Zoe is a tough character to crack. Basically, the original Zoe died in a terrorist attack, but her soul lived on through her online avatar and was downloaded into a Cylon robot by her father. Boom. Three iterations of the same character, all different yet all variations on a theme. And the remaining Zoes are not particularly happy to live on in their current forms. Played by Alessandra Torresani.
  14. Burt Hummel (Glee) To say he’s a supporting character is an understatement. He could not be more protective of his gay son Kurt, even if he’s still trying to find common ground with him. And not only is this journey of his interesting to watch, it serves as a road map for other parents of other Kurts out there. Played by Mike O’Malley.
  15. Russell Edgington (True Blood) The millennia-old vampire king of Mississippi was the latest villain on True Blood, but he’s so maniacal, gaudy, and flamboyant that you almost wanted him to overstay his welcome if only for more ridiculousness. Played by Denis O’Hare.