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Feeny’s Best Characters of the Decade

Posted by Mr. Feeny on December 14, 2009

I agree with several of Moltisanti’s choices on his list of the decade’s greatest characters. Two especially were formative television characters who defined the decade. That’s upon what my lists will be based. Not great characters from critically-acclaimed but hardly viewed shows. Rather, characters that will forever be remembered as coming out of and representing this decade. Frankly, Don Draper’s on the shoulder of that. Great character, multi-layered, widely talked about. But will people think of him when they think of TV characters from the 2000s? Like they think of Lucy for the 50s. JR for the 80s. Homer for the 90s. I don’t think so. He’s a great television character, but not “Of the Decade.” There’s more to that classification.

In 40 years, when you think back, these will be the five characters you remember.

1) Tony Soprano (The Sopranos) — But Molitisanti and I will definitely agree on the top character of the 2000s. Largely because of the impact he had on other characters of the decade. The Shield, The Wire, Damages, Dexter. None of them could have captured audiences had Tony Soprano not introduced the idea of a sympathetic villain. This is a murderer. A law-breaking, modern day mobster who chokes his associates to death, cheats constantly on his wife and bullies everyone around him. But, it’s also the only life he knows, and the best way he knows to provide for his family, which he actually does care deeply about. The hypocrisy is rank, but the drama is golden. And Tony Soprano used it to be the most important television character of this decade.

2) Jack Bauer (24) — I really can’t say it any better than Moltisanti did. Jack is an action hero with feelings. The best seasons (one, three, five, seven) somehow are able to develop Jack’s character in the span of a day, as we see him experience the entire range of human emotion. Just brilliant (except season 6…terrible…I will never stop mentioning that).

3) Jed Bartlet (The West Wing) — How many Americans this decade would have preferred him as their president? Even though we disagree on most issues, I have to admit, I’d vote “Barlet for America.” And that was the beauty of Aaron Sorkin’s West Wing creation. You knew where this fictional character stood on EVERYTHING. Over the course of seven seasons (all but one in this decade), Bartlet made known his beliefs on everything from war to health care to judges to abortion to immigration. He seemed like a real politician. But what makes this character great is the personality behind it. The fact that Bartlet’s a trivia nut, that he once considered the priesthood, that he cracks jokes every chance he gets. He was the perfect balance of personality and power. Add in one of the most compelling storylines of the decade — hiding his MS and then fighting it in office — and Bartlet will forever be remembered as one of the greats. When Martin Sheen dies, they might put his casket in the capital rotunda.

4) Adrian Monk (Monk) — Where else on TV has an OCD character not only been the star, but one of the most popular characters in all of television? Typically, these are supporting or passing persons in the run of a series. But Monk put this uniquely quirky and obsessive character right in the forefront and let the magic happen. You never really pitied Monk. You laughed at his idiosyncracies and rooted for him to overcome obstacles. From season to season, his growth was slight. But he often did come face to face with his fears and usually overcame them…if just for that instance. In the hands of a lesser actor, Monk could have become a stale mockery. Instead, he was one of the most beloved characters, truly of this decade (2002-2009)

5) Michael Scott (The Office) — This one is going to get a lot of negative reaction, especially for those lovers of the British original. But frankly, I’m sick of that. Having now caught up on the entire series, Michael Scott is just as fantastic a character as David Brent. Better, I’d say. You can clearly see that this man is overmatched by his job, but at the same time understand why he has it. You can see why he has no girlfriend or family, but also understand that he should and would be a great husband/father. He’s far more layered than most sitcom characters, and much more than you’d think after just a few episodes. You truly need to see Michael Scott throughout the series to understand his motivation and personality. And there are few characters this decade, including those on this list, that I get a warmer feeling about when they find redemption. Those scenes are incredibly touching in The Office, only because of how invested we are in its lead character.


2 Responses to “Feeny’s Best Characters of the Decade”

  1. Blu said

    No decade list is complete without Vic Mackey.
    If you are unfamiliar with Vic I’d suggest watching The Shield.

  2. […] Feeny’s Best Characters of the Decade […]

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