When speaking with Ken Jeong (Senor Chang, Community) just a few days ago, he made a comment about his character being a villain: "but whenever I play those types of villainous characters," he explained, "I try to play them so that they have no idea they're perceived as bad." Jeong felt it makes the characters funnier that way, but that it also gives them more depth. But considering Senor Chang (an eccentric but not necessarily evil man) as a villain, we have to acknowledge that means the criteria to fit the definition is much looser these days. If he falls into the category, therefore, we have to acknowledge that perhaps for once television is willing to see shades of gray with its characters. Just like with real life people, reel life ones will have touches of good-- even when they're playing the bad guy (or gal)!
Jane Lynch portrays Sue Sylvester (GLEE) with such a dry, biting wit, it is easy to see why so many of her students and even fellow teachers might be slightly scared of her. She rules her Cheerios with an iron fist and is not above bribery or scare tactics to get what she wants. However, after last week's "Wheels" episode, we finally got to see a softer side to Sue, when we watched her visit, and then read to, her older sister, who is living with Down Syndrome.
The entire cast of characters on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia seem-- at first glance-- to just be pretty self-absorbed, lazy, corner-cutting individuals who would rather lie, cheat, and steal than do an honest day's work. Though who in this town wouldn't, am I right??? Eh, anyway...their indiscretions are endless from the time Dennis and Dee (Glenn Howerton and Kaitlin Olson) decided to go on welfare rather than getting real jobs, to Mac and Charlie (Rob McElhenney and Charlie Day) lying on the witness stand about Mac's father claiming he wanted to rape and then kill them. Each week the gang seems to get themselves caught up in a scheme or plan more harebrained than the last (which keeps everyone-- even themselves in stitches), just like the Seinfeld gang of the nineties-- only this time, there's no jail cell in the world that could stop them!
Barney Stinson (Neil Patrick Harris) on How I Met Your Mother is the kind of character that (until recently) even his on-screen best friends had to stop and wonder just why they hung out with him in the first place. Sure, he's good for a crazy night of laser tag, cigar smoking, bar hopping, and getting slapped by women of all ages, races, and religions, but can you go to him for a sympathetic ear or shoulder to cry on? No. Can you go to him for advice on anything other than financial markets or the Bro Code? No. And can you count on him to share anything real about your friends, family, or feelings? No! (Unless, of course, you were feeling that you wanted to try The Naked Man that particular evening) Yet his impish smile and zest for life make you want to keep him around, even if only to "liven up" your holiday parties.
...I wanted to include someone from the new Melrose Place on this list, as well, but unfortunately Amanda (Heather Locklear)'s first episode has not yet aired and her quotes from the most recent issue of Entertainment Weekly makes it seem like her character as softened quite a bit since faking her death and moving to a deserted island with the doctor of her dreams. I guess only time will tell who (other than Ashlee Simpson, who has already been booted) at 4616 is meant to be the bad guy (or gal).
So far, Ella (Katie Cassidy) seems the most likely candidate-- for being cutthroat with business but also for getting between Jonah and Riley (Michael Rady and Jessica Lucas), though Jonah and Riley are doing a good enough job on their own of getting in each other's way! There's Lauren (Stephanie Jacobsen), who's selling herself to pay for med school (so innately she's the most sympathetic prostitute since Pretty Woman); there's bad boy Auggie (Colin Egglesfield-- who also got canned without us really even learning what makes him such a bad boy); and there's Michael Mancini's offspring David (Shaun Sipos), who although a big time art thief, has not only promised he will stop but has also used the money for good to try and help Lauren pay her way through school. Though, if we can't tell by now who to root for and who to boo in this melodrama that was once known for being rife with b*tch fights, then the characters are leaning more toward victims than villains, and that probably doesn't bode well for the future of the show!