Zombie killers, jaded actresses, prison wardens, freaks, loud mouth-know-it-all’s, CIA agents, lawyers, mothers, detectives, therapists…whatever the ‘profession’, the range and scale of characters scattered throughout the television year has been wide and varied.
To celebrate the year that was, here’s my list of the 23 best television characters of 2014
23: Beth Davis – “Stalker”
A stalking victim turned head of the stalker unit with the L.A.P.D turned stalking victim. It’s no wonder Beth Davis (Maggie Q) keeps her cards close to her chest. There’s something mysterious about Beth, but that’s probably because we’re only just starting to unravel the trauma she suffered many many years ago.
22: Ellie Torres – “Cougar Town”
Ellie (Krista Miller) is the best friend you want to have but probably couldn’t deal with her in-your-face bluntness. And while she’s begun to warm up-to others around her, you just know Ellie always does what’s best for Ellie.
21: Will – “Friends With Better Lives”
Will was the externally confident but internally, was incredibly insecure. The single guy in his group of loved-up friends, no romantic challenge was off limits, even if it included an almost three-way with one of his friends.
20: Gina Spinks – “Web Therapy”
Gina, Gina, Gina. The only woman in the world to take horrible advice from her therapist and turn it into a positive…with that positive being becoming a sex toy party host. The great thing about Gina is, she literally does not see the mean coming from those around her.
19: Dr. Betty Rogers – “Motive”
Handling dead bodies never looked so sexy! Betty’s (Lauren Holly) take-no-prisoners attitude towards her job isn’t even covering some deep seeded need to be taken seriously, it’s just Betty. Plus the fact she’ll rock up-to a crime scene in full nightclub attire without any explanation as to why or where she’s been just shows Betty is deadly serious about her work.
18: Haley Duphy – “Modern Family”
Being one of three Dunphy children makes it hard for one to stand out, but this year saw Haley (Sarah Hyland) bump herself up with some incredibly funny scenes involving her finally taking a leap forward with her career post community college drop out. Gone is the self obsessed, younger sister dissing ditz, replaced with the self obsessed, younger sister dissing career woman.
17: Bedelia Du Maurier – “Hannibal”
Has Bedelia (Gillian Anderson) fooled us all along? Her almost whispered tones confessing her beliefs of Hannibal’s guilt this year made us all believe not only does she believe Hannibal is the Chesapeake Ripper, but she’s also quite fearful of her life…that was until that final scene of season two.
16: Connor Walsh – “How To Get Away With Murder”
Connor (Jack Falahee) proves it’s not always the girls who can use sex as a way to get what they want as he bed-hopped his way around obtaining key pieces of evidence and information to ensure he stays in favor with his mentor. His bitchy, snarky and manipulative demeanor is a perfect throwback to the days of Melrose Place and Amanda Woodward.
15: Peter Quinn – “Homeland”
Quinn (Rupert Friend) sure is a damaged and broken man. He’s hell bent on trying to make right (still living with the demons he pick-up after accidentally killing a young boy) while also dealing with emerging romantic feelings for his boss. Copious amounts of booze and random acts of sex with his landlord didn’t seem to help, nor his attempt to express his feelings for said boss.
14: Laura Diamond – “The Mysteries of Laura”
Sure Laura (Debra Messing) really displaced me on our first meeting but over time, Detective Diamond has proven herself to be a head-strong and smart woman who happens to not give two hoots about she presents herself to the world. She’s a mother first and a career woman first too who also happens to carry around a bag akin to that of Mary Poppins.
13: Nicky Nichols – “Orange is the New Black”
It was rather interesting getting to see a second side to Nicky (Natasha Lyonne) this year that didn’t involve sex with other inmates. While it was there and is part of the Nicky we love, her battle with overcoming her heroin addiction and also dealing with the fall from grace of her mother-figure Red (Kate Mulgrew) showed that there is a mature and responsible woman underneath all that red hair.
12: Shoshanna Shapiro – “Girls”
Part of the reason why Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet) is on this list is purely down to her awesome “go fuck yourself” speech she spewed out to Hannah (Lena Dunham) while in the ‘fake Hamptons’. It’s a fantastic piece of dialogue that is what all Girls viewers have been wanting to say to Hannah since day one. “I’m talking about the fact that you’re a fucking narcissist. Seriously, I’ve never met anyone else who thinks their own life is so fucking fascinating. I wanted to fall asleep in my own vomit all day listening to you talk about how you bruise more easily than other people.”
11: Beverly Goldberg – “The Goldbergs”
There’s no smother (smothering mother) like her! Whether Beverly (Wendy McLendon-Covey) is trying to stay hip and relevant with her daughter or ego stroke her wannabe rapper-come-kickboxer-come-basketball superstar son, Beverly is there. Actually, she’s there watching them sleep, eat, at school…she’s everywhere.
10: Annalise Keating – “How to get Away With Murder”
You get confronted with this ballsy and upfront woman right from the go. Annalise (Viola Davis) is all business and for the most part – keeps up a good front but this woman also struggling with a cheating husband, a dead cheerleader and a whole bunch of lies and betrayal so it’s no wonder that underneath the wig, the makeup and the power suits, there’s a very uncertain and sad woman trying to decipher what’s personal and what’s business.
9: Bette and Dot Tattler – “American Horror Story Freak Show”
Looking at Bette and Dot (Sarah Paulson) it’s hard to tell the two apart but when you get up close and personal, the conjoined twins could not be more identifiable. We love that Bette takes what’s in front of her as black and white. She dreams of stardom and seeing the world for what it has to offer while Dot, the complete opposite. She knows the world has an extending shade of grey area not to be trusted and yearns for a life that doesn’t involve her sister attached to her 24-7.
8: Alison Hendrix – “Orphan Black”
She’s a mom who drinks, kills, has numerous clone sisters and enjoys time performing in local stage productions. Clearly Alison (Tatiana Maslany) has her priorities right, but has trouble keeping them all in check. One of the more colorful clones, we’ve seen Alison grow from a suburban stepford wife to an ass-kicking alcoholic while still managing to have dinner on the table for her kids (you know, while she’s not in forced rehab).
7: Ashley Marin – “Pretty Little Liars”
The Ashley Marin (Laura Leighton) that is so accustomed to ensuring people perceive her and her daughter to have a perfect life had no choice but to show things are not a peachy keen as they appeared. Accused of murder and shipped off to prison, Ashley had no choice but to let the walls down and ask for help from those she’s been trying to dupe for all these years. Mix that with Leighton’s compelling performance as a completely distraught mother uncertain of her daughter’s safety and well-being while not having the ability to control what’s happening outside those prison walls makes Ashley Marin a standout.
6: Dr. Fiona Wallice – “Web Therapy”
What’s best for Fiona (Lisa Kudrow) clearly isn’t what’s best for everyone else and in true Web Therapy form, Fiona never really learns from her mistakes or errors in judgement. She continuously looks for the monetary advantage and boost in social standing in those she’s entrusted to help yet is shocked when she’s either double crossed or left holding together what shred of professional credibility she actually has. Of course, thanks to Kudrow’s impeccable performance, we still root for Fiona to come out on top.
5: Joan ‘The freak’ Ferguson – “Wentworth”
Governor Joan Ferguson (Pamela Rabe) is one demented woman haunted by personal tragedy. She set out her plan for revenge many many years ago that was finally coming to see the light of day and no prisoner or guard within the walls of Wentworth were going to spoil her scheme, even if it meant there would be blood on her hands. To me, Pamela Rabe was the most genius and perfect casting of any character for 2014.
4: Daryl Dixon – “The Walking Dead”
Daryl (Norman Reedus) has always been at the forefront of The Walking Dead but throughout the show, he has (mostly) managed to keep his heart and emotions well and truly hidden. But it was this year that brought forth a softer side to Daryl – reunited with trusted companion Carol and faced with the death of Beth, the hardened and dirtied exteriors began to fall showing a multi-layered character we all kind of knew was there all along.
3: Carrie Mathison – “Homeland”
It’s a reinvigorated Homeland that proved killing off a main character can be beneficial to bringing back a show to it’s best and with Brody now dead, we got back a Carrie (Claire Danes) that was no longer split between work and love (well…there’s now a baby…but you get where I’m coming from) now with her eyes firmly on homeland security.
2: Selina Meyers – “VEEP”
You’d have to imagine just what America would be like if Selina Meyer were actually the president. She’s completely out-of-touch with modern society, curses like a drunken sailor, is blatantly disrespectful to pretty much everyone and yet, we all cheered when she suddenly became the President of the United States. Put it down to that hilarious scene between Selina and right hand man Gary in the bathroom when she finds out the big news.
1: Valerie Cherish – “The Comeback”
All this woman really wants is to stay afloat in an industry where hot one day is cold the next and while Valerie (Lisa Kudrow) knows this first hand, she can’t keep herself away, even if it means playing a fictionalized version of herself in a HBO show written by a man who literally hates her. And while Valerie and all her irksome habits have a way of pushing you aside, the vulnerability she lets seep out from time to time ultimately pull you back in.