I am an avid reader. Obviously. But I’m also an avid TV/movie watcher. I guess I like stories in any form really. The past year has been filled with some really great characters on TV. Some have been around several seasons. Some are newer. Today I’m just talking about the men. I think you’ll see from my Top 5 list below, that I appreciate darker characters. Or maybe it’s just that there are so many great ones on TV at the moment.
Without further ado, here are my top 5 male characters on TV this past year:
5. Cullen Bohannon
Cullen Bohannon (played by Anson Mount) is the lead character on Hell on Wheels (AMC). Here is a man who starts out bent on vengeance but finds new purpose in the race to build the railroads across the US after the Civil War. He is one of those great dynamic characters who can lie and kill (but always with good purpose of course) and in the next blink save lives and lead men. Doesn’t hurt that he’s sexy as all get out.
4. Raymond Reddington
Raymond “Red” Reddington (played by the incomparable James Spader) is the central character on The Blacklist (NBC). You know from the beginning that this person is a bad guy. That he’ll do anything to get what he wants. He’s manipulative, secretive, and dark. But he also shows a human side in the way he cares for Lizzy (and we all hope that it’s true caring cause we’re not quite sure) and in many of his decisions that result in the end of much worse guys. What also makes this character great is the sarcasm and humor that only James Spader could have pulled off.
3. Frank Underwood
Frank Underwood (played by Keven Spacey) is the lead character on House of Cards (NetFlix). He’s so evil and ruthless (murders and manipulates and who knows what else) but I just can’t look away. I find myself rooting for this character just to see what he does next. He plays the political system like a master, which is fun to watch. But he also loses and hits low points, which makes it even more fascinating. Can’t wait to see what happens a year from now!
2. Rick Grimes & Daryl Dixon
Rick Grimes (played by Andrew Lincoln) is the leader of the band of characters on The Walking Dead (AMC). Daryl Dixon (played by Norman Reedus) is his right hand man, but also a man of his own. I can’t really separate these two. They’re like Bert & Ernie, peas & carrots. I believe that they wouldn’t have made it as far without each other to back the other up. Yet they’re two very different characters. Rick is the obvious leader – former cop, natural leader, and a good man. But he certainly has some issues upstairs, which makes his leadership suspect frequently (and makes for good TV), but you know you should follow him blindly no matter what. Daryl, meanwhile, is the man who on the outside looks like a former thug, but on the inside is possibly the most human character on the show. And his badass skills keep everyone much safer. If I were in a zombie apocalypse who would I choose to follow? If it was just me, I’d follow Daryl. But if a group needed to be led, Rick. Which is what makes the combination so potent.
Warning – these videos are Walking Dead – which means graphic and bloody:
1. Tyrion Lannister
Tyrion Lannister (played by Peter Dinklage) is the imp and one of a host of characters on Game of Thrones (HBO). First of all, Dinklage is an awesome actor who deserves every award he’s been given for this role. His speech at the end of last season proves that. I had to watch it several times. I love this character’s growth through the seasons. He starts out as a misfit and someone who seems to only live off his wealthy family. But then we start to see exactly how savvy he is (smart, educated, and insightful). If only he could get over his daddy issues (Oh wait! He did!). Another character who can deal among the evil of his world and survive, and yet has a kind heart, is witty, and humorous. This is GOT so no one is safe. I hope he makes it to the end.
Bonus: Rust Cohle
Rustin “Rust” Cohle (played by Matthew McConaughey) is one of the two lead characters on True Detective (HBO) last season. Here’s another dark character who doesn’t mind living on the outside to get done what needs to be done (bring the bad guys to justice). It’s not just the dark character with a heart of gold that made him good–it was the performance. McConaughey transformed for this character and was my favorite performance in both movies and TV in 2014 – bar none. Sadly, this series doesn’t repeat with the same characters or story lines. I just don’t know how they’re going to make it as good as the first season with both McConaughey and Woody Harrelson (who was also awesome) in the lead roles.
Warning: There’s an image of a murder in here. You have to look closely to see anything graphic. But wanted to warn you not to look if you’re squeamish or too young for R-rating.
Okay – technically that was 7 characters. As you can see, I’m very much drawn to darker characters who have more than one facet to them. They can be evil (usually when warranted, but you don’t always know that at the time) and can be more kind/thoughtful/caring than the nicest characters out there – which makes them more human. They also tend to be bad ass in some (or many ways): they play the system well, they’re smart, they’re resourceful, they’re fighters. In addition, these performances are what complete the characters. They could easily come off as caricatures, or, because of their dark sides, as people you don’t want to root for or invest in. But the humanity in the performances makes you connect with these characters in a way you wouldn’t have otherwise. Keep it up men!