How does a character go from being a least-favorite to someone we can’t wait to watch each week?
Well, there are a couple ways. The change of heart we feel may be due to a gradual, natural development of the show and characters as a whole. This is especially true of shows that have been around for many seasons.
On the other hand, a show’s writers may intentionally change the way the characters are received, making it easier to enjoy them.
Either way, I realized that some of the characters I disliked the most have often turned into the ones I most enjoy. I decided to pose this question to my fellow Clackers.
Rachel: I was thinking of a post revolving around characters you initially either didn’t like or were ambivalent about who have become a favorite character of yours on a show. (Ivey’s thoughts on April Kepner are what brought this to mind.)
One that stands out for me is the character of Christina from Parenthood. Initially, she came across as uptight, bossy, and weepy. But through the seasons I have come to appreciate how her character has developed, and how she is able to admit her own wrongdoings while remaining true to her beliefs.
Are there any characters that fit this description for you guys?
Ivey: There are a lot of characters like that out there, some written that way, and others just kinda happened.
The best example that comes immediately to mind is my second favorite TV character of all time, Wesley Wyndam-Pryce. Cordelia Chase is another example from the same series(s) that follows a similar path.
ER has a couple more good examples. Robert Romano was a fairly universally hated dude but definitely became more likable as time wore on (I always particularly liked the scene he had with Corday when she discovered the husband she was getting ready to leave was dying of terminal cancer). Also Archie Morris, though if you ask my mother, he never really became likable.
An: On recent TV, it took me awhile to warm up to Winston on New Girl primarily because Damon Wayans, Jr. did such an awesome job as Coach. I’m not saying I hated Winston, but he didn’t feel well-defined compared to the other characters and lacked at least one ‘bad’ trait (a la Coach’s anger, Schmidt’s douchiness, and Nick’s curmudgeonly Jack Lemon impression). However, by the end, Winston’s crazy toilet paper chicken dance, his love of broadway tunes that defy gravity, and his George Michael-esque earring all won me over.
Rachel: Another one for me is Alex Karev from Grey’s. I used to think he was sleazy and obnoxious and just about the last character I cared about. He’s still obnoxious, but in a productive way, if that makes sense. You can tell that he really cares about his patients and wants to become a better doctor.
Katie: Britta on Community. The character’s ultimate success has been equal parts better writing for her character and Gillian Jacobs‘ enthusiasm for making her character utterly ridiculous. She went from the most boring character on the show to arguably my favorite character on the show. It’s hard to play the easy target that everyone still likes, but Britta works.
An: I agree about Britta, but as with the Buffy characters that’s a case of the writers re-working the character until what sucked, rocked.
However, one character on Community that never really changed, but grew on me is The Dean. In fact, Harmon (may he rest in peace), kept taking the Dean’s asexual Jeff-obsession and extrapolating it by 10. Now, I can’t enjoy a Community episode if the Dean doesn’t dress like a slutty Abraham Lincoln.
Bob: I’ll go with Margaret Schroeder on Boardwalk Empire. During the first one or two episodes I didn’t really understand where she fit into the story, but Kelly Macdonald’s performance was so good, and the character keeps getting more and more complicated. She is definitely the best part of the show now.
Michael: Grimm’s Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli).The initially clueless, sometimes-reluctant, vacillatingly curious lead of this freshman NBC Friday night staple started out as a damp, warm wet towel and progressively got curiouser and curiouser as the show moved along. Seriously? This is a lead we would be watching plug along for 22 episodes? A boring stick-in-the-mud, plain-clothes detective with little in the way of dynamism and below average likability? But, suddenly, this goody two-shoes detective gets embroiled in more than he can fathom and is forced to action, so much so his worm has turned in many directions. He’s become more attractive while nurturing his dark side, he’s plotted and planned and reacted in ways I’m certain he’s never considered, he’s compromised his actions and those of the department’s for (what he sees as) the greater good, he’s finagled and outright lied and stolen and he’s proactively hunted and murdered “bad guys,” something he never would have done normally. Descending down this unwanted path of darkness, Burkhardt has become a more alluring character and his progression (digression?) is one of the things which has made Grimm a joy to watch unfold this season.
Debbie: Ooooo! This is a good one! I never had a problem with Nick, but now I’m fascinated by him. He’s a little bit badass now, and Giuntoli is doing a great job showing Nick’s internal struggle with his dual life.
An: You’re right, Nick the character hasn’t changed, but people have warmed up to him as the situations around him change. I loved DG’s wide-eyed innocence in the beginning but I do dig the bit of badassery appearing now, as well.
Readers, it’s up to you to join the discussion. Are there any characters who have grown on you? How did it happen?
. . . . .
Why does An’s “… George Michael-esque earring won me over …” reference not surprise me in the least … ???
What? Those were the funniest one-liner jokes in the series. I just want to re-watch the episode and transcribe all of them.
. . . . .
So … what you’re saying is we won’t see you for the rest of the year … ???
* sigh * Take two months to transcribe one interview and no one lets you forget it ;)
. . . . .
We all make our own beds, An …
For me, it was Phil Dunphy (Ty Burrell) on “Modern Family”. I really disliked the character initially–he seemed way too broad, even for that show, and too immature. I think over time they’ve added some shades of thoughtfulness, responsibility, and even, once in a while, maturity to his character, especially in the way he deals with his children and with his father-in-law (not so much his wife). I’ve reached the point where I can even appreciate the broader comic moments, like the way he walked crooked after coming off the roller coaster in the Disneyland episode. He’s far from my favorite on the show (I’d even rank his son higher) but I no longer cringe when he’s the focus of an episode. Now it’s Cam’s over-the-top antics that make me cringe…
I’m sure there must be plenty of other candidates for me, but the first one that came to mind is Catherine Tate’s Donna Noble from ‘Doctor Who’. When I heard she was joining the show for a season after her appearance in”The Runaway Bride”, I cringed. In fact, I still can’t stand her in that Christmas special. But right from seeing her in that door portal when she rediscovered the Doctor, she won me over. And it only got better as the adventures continued until she broke my heart as Doctor/Donna. I think it was equal parts writing and performance that combined to win me over.