Supporting Characters

So a Doctor, a Lawyer and a Henchman walk into a bar and the bartender says: "What is this? A Joke?"

So a Doctor, a Lawyer and a Henchman walk into a bar and the bartender says: “What is this? A Joke?”

As a kid growing up I was always discouraged from watching television. It was always: “Go outside and play” or “Go do something constructive” and I hated it but it made me a better person. So I’m a little bit ashamed about how much television I consume now as an adult: and not just consume but avidly look forward to each week and feel bereft without each time a holiday weekend interrupts the normal airing schedule.

In my own defense, though, we are arguably in a new Golden Age of Television at the moment. At least when it comes to narrative television: I decline to comment on the whole reality business. It’s no surprise to me, though. When I can get rich, cinematic production value to the home screen with shows like “Game of Thrones” in a convenient and compact fifty minute dose that I can follow up on each week for years on end there’s really no incentive to go out to a movie. Blasphemy!

But this isn’t a post about Why I Love Television So Much. Instead it is a post about a few of the smaller characters that I have discovered in some of these shows that I actually like more than the main characters. The powers that be in the entertainment field like to say that “there are no small roles, only small actors.” This is, in fact, a lie: there are occasionally scenes in which a prop is more important than the actor holding it. There are scenes where the CGI creature which the actor is valiantly attempting to react to, but which doesn’t actually exist, is more important than the actor. But that said, when an actor really nails a minor role it is like finding a gooey melting chocolate chip in your cookie. Here are three char-actors that I particularly like to watch:

Louis Litt

Louis Litt

Lewis Litt, played by Rick Hoffman on “Suits”

I stopped caring about Harvey and Mike, the two main characters, when Harvey and Mike stopped being a team that solved legal problems by using Mike’s “Ace In The Hole” ability to memorize information on sight. But the effete, scheming, and power hungry Louis Litt is endlessly fascinating to me. He wants things so badly and pursues them with the single mindedness of a character written for comic relief, yet at the same time he knows his business and makes a worthy, useful adversary.



Lena, played by Katherine Moennig on “Ray Donovan”

I got sucked into watching “Ray Donovan” because it conveniently aired right after “Dexter” and because the Curmudgeonly Lion was looking forward to it with great anticipation. After a handful of episodes I still didn’t feel strongly about any of the main characters, but I fell in love with the character of Lena who is basically a low level henchman working for Ray. She’s capable. She’s smart. She doesn’t talk a lot, she just gets things done. It’s so rare to see a competent henchman and so rare to see a competent female character that to see both at the same time is like a rare and wonderful unicorn sighting.

Dr Chi Park

Dr Chi Park

Dr Chi Park, played by Charlyne Yi on “House M.D.”

I was a dedicated follower of “House” for about five seasons, but by the end my interest was definitely waning on the main characters and their deeply tread storylines. But I liked the awkward, straight faced Dr Park. She was smart, soft spoken, and unrepentantly plain. Her ability to react, or fail to react, to House’s shenanigans were a pleasant relief from the mire of soapy drama that had worked up between the other characters after eight seasons of friction with one another. So novelty probably played a part in her appeal, but I appreciated that she wasn’t supposed to be pretty: it was nice to just enjoy a female character who didn’t look ready for a magazine cover. (*koff* Thirteen *koff* Cuddy *koff* Cameron).

So they say it is the little things in life that make us the happiest. It certainly applies to supporting characters.

~ by Gwydhar Gebien on September 9, 2013.

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