Entertainment Weekly has recently published their list of the 100 greatest characters of the last two decades, and it has got my nerdy panties in a twist. Now, I don't begrudge the good people at Entertainment Weekly their rating system, whatever it was, but I just don't see their point on some of these choices.
So let's break it down, folks. Having discussed this list fairly extensively with with a couple of people, I feel fully justified in criticizing the work of people who actually get paid to write.
100. Tim Riggins from Friday Night Lights
No objection; however, wish to express mild reservation at choice of Tim Riggins over Tami or Eric Taylor.
99. The Bride from Kill Bill
98. Lisbeth Salander from The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and its sequels
Haven't read it, no objection.
97. Violet Weston from August: Osage County
Haven't read it, no objection.
96. Bernie Mac from The Bernie Mac Show
Objection! I love Bernie Mac, but is it really fair to say that one of the greatest "characters" of the last twenty years was a someone who was so loosely based on the actor that they shared the same name? I give you the wikipedia entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernie_Mac. Note the choice of the words "semi-autobiographical."
95. Wilhelmina from Ugly Betty
No ... particular ... objection.
94. Truman from The Truman Show
Objection. I understand the relevance of The Truman Show in the sense that pre-dated the explosion of reality TV, and that Jim Carey performed some amazing work. But best character of the last two decades? Pfhp. Pshaw. Other noises of derision.
93. Game Boys: Nathan Drake from the Uncharted series; Kratos from the God of War series; and Niko Bellic from Grand Theft Auto IV
No objection, though I really, really want to. But I'm saving that for later ...
92. Christopher Boone from The Curious Incident of the Dog in Night-Time
Haven't read it, no objection.
91. Hancock from Hancock
Holy balls, are you kidding me? HANCOCK? As my friend Pedro (hee hee, Pedro ...) pointed out, Hancock isn't even the 91st best character Will Smith has played, much less the 91st best character of the last two decades.
90. Marge Gunderson from Fargo
89. Wikus van de Merwe from District 9
88. Napoleon Dynamite from Napoleon Dynamite
87. Tony Stark from the Iron Man series
Objection. I love the Iron Man movies. I love Robert Downey Jr. But Iron Man as a character did not originate in the last 20 years. So sorry, try again.
86. Karen Walker and Jack McFarland from Will & Grace
(I would object, but I have a feeling that I'm swiftly running out of challenges.)
85. Daniel Plainview from There Will Be Blood
I'm an oilman, but in my free time, I like to travel around the country, sampling milkshakes.
84. Dr. Gregory House from House, M.D.
No objection. Also, rawr.
83. Jen Yu from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
82. Tracy Flick from Election
81. Amanda Woodward from Melrose Place
80. Gorillaz, the animated rock band
Really? Gorillaz? Remind me, what is the story behind Gorillaz? Easier question -- what are the names of the individual Gorillaz? You don't know?
I rest my case.
79. Elphaba from Wicked
78. Patty Hewes from Damages
No objection, other than a vague sense that characters less than three seasons old are still generally questionable.
77. Mimi Marquez from Rent
76. Tyler Durden from Fight Club
No objection, other than desiring clarification between the book and film.
75. David Brent from The Office (original version)
No objection, other than annoyance at the insistence that the British version is superior to the American version.
74. Don Draper from Mad Men
No objection. Also, rawr. (That's two rawrs now, for the record.)
73. Catherine Trammell from Basic Instinct
72. Kara “Starbuck” Thrace from Battlestar Galactica
71. Det. Alonzo Harris from Training Day
Objection. The only thing that makes this character memorable in any way is that Denzel Washington was, for once, the bad guy.
70. Mary Katherine Gallagher from Saturday Night Live
No objection, but curiosity as to whether Mary Katherine Gallagher is really the best SNL character of the last two decades.
69. Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada
Isn't this character basically Anna Wintour? I love Meryl, but for realsies.
68. Effie White from Dreamgirls
67. Borat from Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
66. Allie and Noah from The Notebook
No objection ... I guess.
65. Lorelai and Rory Gilmore from Gilmore Girls
No objection. But am pretending the last few seasons didn't happen.
64. Maximus from Gladiator
63. John Locke from Lost
No objection, and a hearty "hear, hear."
62. Jimmy Corrigan from Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth
I have no idea what this is. So I object on principle.
61. Vic Mackey from The Shield
60. Mary Jones from Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire
I don't even know where to start with this. But no.
59. Master Chief from the Halo series
No! No no no no no no no no. You cannot create a list devoted to the greatest CHARACTERS of the last twenty years and give the number 59 spot to Master Chief, a character real people PLAY and whose main characteristic is "Clint Eastwood-like."
58. Thelma and Louise from Thelma & Louise
57. Clayton Bigsby from Chappelle’s Show
56. Barney Stinson from How I Met Your Mother
No ... wait for it ... objection.
(Ok, that joke didn't work so well.)
55. Tracy Jordan from 30 Rock
Objection. Liz Lemon, Jack Donaghy or even Kenneth are clearly superior choices.
54. Juno from Juno
53. Edward Cullen from the Twilight saga
Ugh. Ugh ugh ugh. If you must pick someone from Twilight, just pick all the characters in Twilight. There is no way to argue that Edward Cullen is more dynamic or important than Bella, Jacob, or any of the other vampires.
Also, stop calling it a saga. It's a series. SERIES.
52. Annie Wilkes from Misery
Objection - again, it's cheating to use a character who was originated before the time limit. Misery was first published in 1987. You don't just get to pick the movie and call it good.
51. Omar Little from The Wire
50. Pearl the Landlord from FunnyorDie.com
Surprisingly ... no objection.
49. Vivian Ward from Pretty Woman
48. Red from The Shawshank Redemption
I hate to object over a movie I dearly love, but once again, Red is not a post-1990 character. He's from a 1982 novella.
47. Corky St. Clair in Waiting for Guffman
Haven't seen it, no objection. (I know, I know, I keep meaning to Netflix it.)
46. Jerry Maguire from Jerry Maguire
No real objection. Vague sense of disquiet may result from my current feelings toward Tom Cruise, which is unfortunate.
45. Stewie Griffin from Family Guy
If you MUST pick someone from Family Guy, Stewie is the one.
44. Jack Bauer from 24
43. Cal Stephanides from Middlesex
(That is all.)
42. Sydney Bristow from Alias
41. Harold and Kumar from the Harold & Kumar series
40. Ron Burgundy from Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
No objection. Plus a smiley face.
39. Gob Bluth from Arrested Development
I've made a huge mistake ... actually, no I haven't. Fantastic choice, EW people.
38. Elmo from Sesame Street
37. Keyser Söze from The Usual Suspects
36. Gollum from The Lord of the Rings
I repeat my Iron Man, Misery, Red, etc. objections. Gollum as a character was created well before 1990.
35. Dexter Morgan from Dexter
No objection, but want to point out that Dexter Morgan from TV and Dexter Morgan from the book series are two different characters.
34. Cher from Clueless
33. Sarah Connor from Terminator 2: Judgment Day
32. Beavis and Butt-Head from Beavis and Butt-Head
Seriously? Beavis and Butt-Head, but not Hank Hill? Travesty.
31. Forrest Gump from Forrest Gump
Again, with the whole book/movie conundrum.
30. “Stephen Colbert” from The Colbert Report
29. Vincent Vega and Jules Winnfield from Pulp Fiction
28. Madea from several Tyler Perry films and plays
27. Frasier from Frasier
26. Kavalier and Clay from The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay
25. Woody from the Toy Story series
24. Felicity Porter from Felicity
23. Austin Powers from the Austin Powers series
22. Eric Cartman from South Park
21. Roseanne Conner from Roseanne
20. Ally McBeal from Ally McBeal
19. Morpheus from The Matrix series
Delete the word "series," and you've got a deal.
18. Sue Sylvester from Glee
Ok. The madness must stop. I like Glee, but a character who has only appeared on screen 20 times does not beat Eric Cartman, Cher, Dexter, Tyler Durden, Don Draper, Gob Bluth, John Locke, Dr. House, etc.
17. Lara Croft from the Tomb Raider franchise
Quietly ... suppressing ... rage ...
16. Bridget Jones from the Bridget Jones series
15. Shrek from the Shrek series
Shrek from Shrek and Shrek 2, no objection.
14. Jeff “The Dude” Lebowski from The Big Lebowski
13. Jack Sparrow from the Pirates of the Caribbean series
Mild confusion, but no objection. Jack Sparrow was an interesting character in that he was an INTERESTING CHARACTER in a fairly boilerplate movie, but truly memorable? And not annoying through two unnecessary sequels?
I take it back. A big, fat OBJECTION.
12. Fox Mulder and Dana Scully from The X-Files
11. Cosmo Kramer from Seinfeld
Kramer over Elaine, George, Soup Nazi, Jackie Chiles, etc.? When you just barely nominated Mulder and Scully together? Okay ...
10. SpongeBob SquarePants from SpongeBob SquarePants
Ugh. When will this obsession with SpongeBob end? ARTHUR foreva!
But no real objection.
9. Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City
Again, I don't think you have Carrie Bradshaw without Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha.
8. Hannibal Lecter from The Silence of the Lambs and its sequels
No objection, except to point out that Red Dragon is the prequel.
7. Edward Scissorhands from Edward Scissorhands
Ummmm ... no objection, but seriously, how are these characters ranked? Edward Scissorhands over Hannibal Lector? For some reason?
6. Rachel Green from Friends
Really? Just Rachel? Of all the Friends? If you nominate one of them, just nominate all of them.
5. The Joker from The Dark Knight
Again, The Joker didn't originate in 2008, even as great as Heath Ledger's performance was.
4. Tony Soprano from The Sopranos
3. Buffy from Buffy the Vampire Slayer
2. Harry Potter from the Harry Potter series
No objection. Slight qualm at the No. 2 spot, since Harry sustained his badassery for seven books, six movies and ...
1. Homer Simpson from The Simpsons
... sigh. Seek to clarify that the nominee is Homer Simpson from seasons 3 - 12, and you shall have no objection.
So where does that leave us? Quite a few empty slots, wouldn't you say? How ever will we fill them, you ask?
Well, I'm going to suggest (in no particular order) Veronica Mars, Belle, Drs. McNamara and Troy, Captain Malcolm Reynolds, Andy, Derek Zoolander, Harry Bosch, The Giver, and The Father.
(For the sake of honesty, I'll admit I came thisclose to saying Rorschach and Farmer Hoggett and nearly making the pre-1990 book/post-1990 movie character mistake which annoyed me so greatly. So maybe this is tougher than I thought.)
Do you all have any suggestions?
(Oh, yeah, that bar studying thing is going great.)