Superstars Of The Small Screen – The 10 Best TV Heroes Of The Noughties

In the wake of all these End Of Decade albums lists (not least ours), there are of course those who have suggested that the noughties’ musical output does not hold up next to that of previous decades. Which is an easily argued point, if a fucking boring one. So allow me to draw you to a far more indisputably positive fact about the last ten years: telly-wise, the ’00s have shat all over the ’60s, the ’70s, the ’80s and the ’90s.

“Fact,” as the man pictured below might say.

Now, in this week’s issue of NME, you will find a brilliantly written piece by that Ben Patashnik (of Notes For The Underground notoriety), in which he discusses very intelligently and eloquently why this is the case. It’s a great read. So great, in fact, that I can’t think of anything else to add, and have instead decided to celebrate by counting down the Ten Best TV Characters Of The Decade. How this list works is: I decide who the Ten Best TV Characters Of The Decade are, in order, and then everyone accepts it as gospel. No arguments.

Got that? Good. Now, without further ado…

10. Sookie Stackhouse from True Blood

It helps, certainly, that she’s both telepathic and beautiful (and together with vampire Bill Compton makes up TV’s sexiest couple). But the thing that truly makes young Sook the best of all the True Blood characters – no mean feat, when you consider that includes Lafayette – is the compassion and selflessness with which she conducts herself when surrounded by so many liabilities (her brother, her boss, her man, her best friend…). Lesser mortals would surely crumble.

9. Christopher Moltisanti from The Sopranos

No, not just because he does shitloads of drugs, writes films, murders with true passion, has a taste for fast cars, funds his girlfriend’s forays into the music business, uses a line from ‘Born To Run’ as an excuse for being late and is better looking than all of Tony Sopranos’ allies put together. OK, that’s a lie: for EXACTLY those reasons.

8. Tobias Fünke from Arrested Development

The most tragic of all the characters on this short lived gem of a sitcom, Tobias does that laughing-because-if-I-don’t-I’m-actually-gonna-burst-out-crying-at-how-humiliated-I-feel look THROUGHOUT EVERY SINGLE SHOW, and for every last second you feel his pain. The scene where he sneaks around blind (but not actually blind) Maggie’s house trying to steal evidence is as good as comedy gets.

7. Kenny Powers from Eastbound & Down

To date there have only been six episodes of HBO’s latest comedy masterpiece, but they’re easily enough to assure this washed up baseball superstar a place in this list. Already, he is as quotable as many other more revered small screen characters. I mean really, how can you beat responding to someone who claims to excel at triathalon with: “I do real sports, not try to be the best at exercising.”

6. Super Hans from Peep Show

“Tell you what, this crack’s really moreish.” There’s barely a shit character or even a bad line in any episode of Peep Show, so it’s quite something that Hans manages to steal every single scene that he’s in. There are too many moments to list here, but the most recent – when he shows up at a party with a “rental” snake draped around his neck – is as awesome as any of them. First of only two Brits in this list.

5. Peggy Olson from Mad Men

All the guys in this quite magnificently stylish show about – amongst other things – the workplace sexism of ’60s NYC are pathetic, loathsome douches. Which is kind of the point. Most of the women are, too, but the two notable exceptions are Joan Harris (if only because she’s the most stylish lady to set foot in front of camera this century) and the retiring-but-resilient Peggy Olson. A fighter, in the truest sense of the word.

4. Ari Gold from Entourage

In a show full of dorks (Drama, E, Turtle), heroically superficial dorks (Vince) and lots of just superficial people, Ari is defiantly, brilliantly human. Yeah, on the surface he’s racist, homophobic, sexist, self-centred, egotistical, but beneath that he’s the most caring, sharing, loving, passionate character on television. Not to mention the funniest, the sharpest dressed, and the most masterful of the put down.

3. Larry David from Curb Your Enthusiasm

The self-proclaimed “avuncular, bald jew” has towered over and redefined this decade in comedy as the sitcom with which he made his name did the last. Yeah, some might say the “how excruciating!” schtick is starting to become a little bit more predictable. But witness this –ism from the latest series, on hearing that burglars are blitzing his street, Larry says: “I’d rather have thieves than neighbours. The thieves don’t impose. The neighbours want your time; the thieves want your things. I’d rather give them things than time.”

2. David Brent from The Office

Consider for a minute the fact that the phrase “brentism” is now a part of popular culture. Consider how often, if you’ve worked in an office in England for even one day this decade, you’ve heard someone quote Ricky Gervais’ masterpiece. At NME, it’s STILL approximately once every two minutes. Another character where there are simply too many amazing moments to list, Brent’s biting-his-bottom-lip face has been as iconic in this decade as Tony Blair’s grin was in the last.

1. Omar ‘Devonne’ Little from The Wire

An obvious choice. But look: it’s only in the interests of not being boring that this list doesn’t just feature 10 characters from The Wire (The Bunk, Cutty, Bubs… come ON). The greatest of them all though, indisputably, is Barack Obama’s favourite character from the show. The Wire has had more than enough hyperbole lobbed in its direction, so I’m gonna just home in the show’s boy kissing, shotgun toting, gangster robbing, profanity avoiding, staunchly principled fuckin’ legend. A true American hero.


No arguments, remember?