So as y’all probably know, I kind of am in love with television. And in my ever-humble opinion, those who say that everything on TV sucks? Haven’t been paying attention for the past 19 years.
Hopefully that disclaimer will show you just how very serious I am about the forthcoming list. Because as amazing as television can be, and as dynamic as some of my very-favorite characters are, I shall always be a sucker for rock-star presence. And that is what I want to focus on today: the characters/actors who even amidst the glory that is good TV, stand alone in a larger-than-life presence.
James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano
Had to start off with him. I am not okay whatsoever that he is no longer with us. But I am so grateful for his multi-year commitment to embodying Tony Soprano. “The Sopranos” was so not my flavor, in terms of what I’d seek to watch whilst living single. But damn if it didn’t grab me by the balls and get me to rush home if I was out, every single Sunday night. When I was commuting to and from NYC for work, there were always mysteriously worded posters for upcoming “Sopranos” seasons and though I hated commuting, those posters brought joy to my heart. While that show was in no means a solo effort – the entire cast was impeccable, stellar, all the glorious adjectives – James Gandolfini was the glue. Usually, my rock star characters are supporting, so I get even more psyched when the brightest star in the cast is also the lead. Rest in peace, Mr. Gandolfini. You are terribly missed.
James Marsters as Spike
If you are a “Buffy, the Vampire Slayer” fan, you needn’t read further – because you know. If you’ve never watched BTVS, you should, because it’s FREAKING awesome. For those just tuning in, this show is my “Star Trek,” in terms of obsession and geekery.
And Spike is a huge part of that. He’s not my favorite character; that honor goes to Willow and Faith, all day. But Spike is a bonafide rock star, and not just because Marsters did lead guitar and vocals in Ghost of the Robot (I saw them live!!!!). Spike is a rock star because he is Spike. Bad ass, rocks the leather trenchcoat – and what’s awesome about that coat btw, is that the episode in which you find out its troubling backstory? Is probably James Marsters’s finest work on the show, because it’s Spike’s most important ep.
Spike shows up with a vengeance in “School Hard,” and from that S2 ep through the (SPOILER ALERT HENCEFORTH!) S7 finale, experiences probably the most dynamic character development of anyone in the series. He brings the laughs, the tears, and the controversy until going down in a literal blaze of glory in the series finale.
Lauren Graham as Lorelai Gilmore
If I’ve learned one thing about “Gilmore Girls” over the year in terms of audience, is that it’s not for everyone. If I’ve learned even one more important thing, is that it’s not a show to be shrugged off because you think it’s just a bunch of women sitting around and talking really fast. I mean, it is, but it’s also so much more, and beneath its fluffy pink girly surface, “Gilmore Girls” has got some scathing wit and deceptively “guy” worldview going on. That’s in quotes because hello, 2013! Or 2000-2007, as it were. Point is, “Gilmore Girls” is girly, but not a chick flick as far as these things go, IMO.
I give so much credit for all of that to the creator/writer Amy-Sherman Palladino, as well as the spectacular supporting cast. But I’m not sure if “Gilmore Girls” would have gotten the buzz that it did, and the ensuing longevity, had it not been for Lauren Graham’s Lorelai. Talk about your fierce, bad-ass ingénue who defies stereotypes. Because LG was in her 30s when the series started, a few years IRL older than Lorelai, who was a 32-year-old mother to a 16-year-old daughter. I was 25 when the show came out, feeling very old indeed, not to mention self conscious because I’d managed to gain 30 pounds that year.
And here was Ms. Graham as this glorious specimen of a human being, all gorgeous yet not Hollywood, enviously fit but not super skinny. Best of all, Lorelai was in her 30s – still seven years older than me, then, and the hottest woman around. Not because she wore sexified outfits all the time, either (though she rocked those too). Mainly, she wore jeans and ironic t-shirts.
Leaving all of my personal issues of yore aside, Lauren Graham was just phenomenal as Lorelai. I’ve read that LG always takes the younger actresses under her wing, and that is so freaking cool. It shows in her interaction with Alexis Bledel so much. Graham just radiates this confidence that defies description, which is possibly why I keep going on tangents. Bottom line: upon my millionth rewatch, it’s nearing the end of Season Seven. And I’m going to miss Lorelai all over again.
(vvv A huge part of “Gilmore Girls”‘ charm is its dialogue, but/so the scenes without so much of it rock. This is possibly my favorite scene from the show. vvv)
Mary-Louise Parker as Nancy Botwin
“Weeds” is full of rock stars, but MLP is the rock starriest one of all. She carries that show with an effortlessness I can’t even fathom as a former actress. Nancy delves into some major shit and MLP just roams around in her tall sandals whilst sipping her Big Gulps, unphased. I know a lot of people stopped watching the show around the third season, but I highly recommend seeing the series through, based on MLP’s performance alone.
Josh Holloway as Sawyer
If my memory serves me correctly, Sawyer was originally supposed to be a Wall-Street type in the “LOST” audition – white collar to the extreme. And I think Holloway prepared an audition for that, but ended up getting cast with his Southern accent, and they revamped Sawyer’s character to fit Josh Holloway a bit more.
How awesome is that? To not only get to play the ostensibly coolest character, but to have J.J. Abrams & Co. revamp said cool character on your very being.
Apologies if I’ve given incorrect info, but Google is failing me atm. Bottom line is: Sawyer is awesome. A lot of times, a badass character is measured by how often s/he’s like, “No apologies.” Sawyer gives tons of apologies, even if sometimes they’re only regret in his eyes. Like Spike, Sawyer IMO is the most dynamic character on a show packed with dynamic characters.