I suppose that since it’s June 2nd and the last of my shows aired their season (and quite possibly series) finale last night, it’s officially time to say the season’s over. Some people may like to tack on the summer to the end of their television year, but I like to follow the Emmy’s calendar (seeing as we share a name and all). So, for the next few weeks I’m going to be spending my Tuesdays looking back over the season and bringing you my thoughts on certain stand-outs from the past year.
Today, we’re starting with my favorite new characters. These are the people who have stuck with me, mostly for good reasons, but a few for being deliciously not so good. They’re the new people I’m itching to get back to now that the season’s over, the people whose stories I need more of. Probably not surprisingly, most of these new characters come from bran new shows, but there are a few newcomers to some well established shows as well.
1. Cookie Lyon, Empire
Just take one look at this woman. One look, and you just know she is a force to be reckoned with. Cookie Lyon takes shit from no man, from no woman, and she is here to get what’s hers, whether that’s half of Empire Entertainment, a hand in the management of her children’s respective music careers, or her man. And no one’s going to stand in her way. Maybe that means she has to assert herself into every part of someone’s life to make sure they notice her. Maybe that mean she has to be sneaky and clever behind someone’s back. Or maybe that means she’s gonna throw down and tear out your weave. She doesn’t care. Cookie Lyon is here. And you better take notice.
2. Jamal Lyon, Empire
Jamal is an interesting one. For all that his father and he claim to hate each other because of Jamal’s homosexuality, he is nothing if not his father’s son: fiercely proud, phenomenally talented, and determined to be his own man. And now Jamal is poised to take over his father’s company, despite their animosity. Somewhere in his father’s ALS diagnosis were two people reluctantly able to reconnect. Re-connection wasn’t an easy road, what with Jamal being cut off from his father’s millions, a very public (and incredibly moving) coming out, and finally Jamal learning that his father impregnated his ex-wife. But in the end a tenuous truce has been cast. However, with this truce Jamal now finds himself at odds with both his brothers and – most surprisingly – his mother Cookie, who has always been Jamal’s biggest supporter. We’ll have to wait for Season Two to see if this reconciliation is here to stay.
3. Barry Allen, The Flash
Maybe I’m cheating just a little since technically we met Barry Allen last year in a backdoor pilot during Season Two of Arrow. But the boy spent nine months in a coma, so I’m cutting him a little slack. Barry Allen is everything Oliver Queen, his Arrow counterpart, is not. Whereas Oliver is tortured by his past and became a vigilante as a means of retribution and redemption, Barry is instead all optimism and hope. He runs forward (ha ha ha), headlong into danger to help other people and keep his city safe. Not because he has to make up for something, not to right the wrongs of his father, but just because he can. It’s not that his life doesn’t come with it’s own tragedies – as he told Oliver, his mother was murdered in front of him and his father has been falsely imprisoned for the crime for something like fifteen years – it’s just that Barry keeps going.
4. Jessica Huang, Fresh Off The Boat
I think this picture kind of sums up Jessica’s go-to attitude: judging everything you love and everything you do. Jessica has an opinion on everything. On her husband’s restaurant. On her children’s schooling. On the activities of the other mom’s in her neighborhood. Everything. And more than that, her opinion is one she is more than willing to share. But underneath that judgmental and confident exterior is a woman who is much more complex. Someone who is fiercely protective of her children, who is loyal and supportive of her husband, and someone with just as many anxieties and insecurities as anyone else. Not to mention, she’s uproariously funny.
5. Annalise Keating, How to Get Away with Murder
Look at the woman in that picture. That woman has it together. That woman is cold and calculated and precise. She is a woman who would never let you see her without her makeup on, would never break down and cry for her mama to help her pick up the pieces of her life. And if you believe any of that to be true, you don’t know Annalise Keating very well. No, Annalise is someone who has worked very hard to keep that mask in place – that mask of cool, polished poise and perfection – but we’ve seen what’s beneath the makeup and wigs. Seen the damage she’s bourn and the scars she’s carried. Seen the desperation and the anger and the fear.
6. Connor Walsh, How to Get Away with Murder
In the events leading up to Murder Night, Connor was the picture of too rich, too handsome, too smooth. He lived his life with a perpetual smirk on his lips and a good lay just a drink and a raised eyebrow away. He was smart, he was cool, he was sexy. And he knew it. And made sure everyone around him knew it. His unapologetic approach to casual gay sex (not to mention just how much of it the network was willing to show its viewers) was groundbreaking for network tv. And while that’s certainly admirable, what’s kept me glued to his story is just how far his new identity as a murderer has caused this golden boy to unspool.
7. Jane Gloriana Villanueva, Jane the Virgin
An accidental pregnancy will rock anyone’s world. But just imagine that it happens when you’ve spent your whole life saving your virginity for marriage. Not only was Jane’s pregnancy a surprise, it should have been a impossibility! But sunny, strong, and stubborn Jane has taken her new life path in stride. That’s not to say she hasn’t had her share of doubts. Fears of impending motherhood, heartbreak, and the insecurities of not living up to the expectations both she and others have put upon her have all led to a bumpy nine months for Jane. But she has dealt with it all with grace and empathy and optimism. Though I have felt for her every step of the way, I know that I will spend more time applauding her strength and cheering her triumphs.
8. Cruella De Vil, Once Upon a Time
I appreciate that Once Upon a Time has spent a good deal of its time fully developing the back stories of its villains. That these are people just like anyone else, but who’ve been twisted through hurt and abuse. That’s a good story to tell. But every once in a while, you want someone to be bad just to be bad. And Cruella was a perfect fit. While everyone else worked hard to stave off the darkness we all have inside us, Cruella chose to dive right in and splash around. She wasn’t damaged, didn’t want revenge. No, she was simply, selfishly, deliciously cruel. I was pretty devastated by her death this season. I could have gladly spent so much more time with her rolling her eyes and spouting off one-liners mocking Rumpelstiltskin’s height. Maybe somehow we’ll get to see her again.
9. Rowena MacLeod, Supernatural
In it’s ten year run, Supernatural has gone through its share of villains: Azazel, Lilith, Lucifer, Dick Roman, Abbadon, etc. Some have been exciting and terrifying, others merely annoying, but Rowena is a tour de force. She’s someone who’s not that easy to figure out. Sure, she wants power. Wants to lord it over the Grand High Coven that kicked her out. But she’s more than just that. She’s the mother of the King of Hell. And, as she wants greatness for herself, so too does she want it for her son! But if he’s not willing to do what it takes to be great, then he needs to be taken out. Simultaneously an overly supportive stage mom and a murderous witch, Rowena’s been fascinating to watch.
10. Titus Andromedan, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Is there really any reason to go into a description of why Titus is so wonderful? All you need to do is watch his Peeno Noir (an ode to black penis) music video. Titus is my idol. Because he is 100% wholly himself. He just can’t be anything else. He’s funny, he’s lazy, he’s creative, he’s supportive, he’s nosy, and he’s an absolute mess. Titus got out of his hometown, down south in Mississippi where high school was a nightmare for a young, gay, black kid – because he was so popular for being a letter jock that girls were throwing themselves at him! Now he’s broke in New York City, pursuing his dream of Broadway Stardom. Or really, just Stardom at any cost.
And that’s it. Ten new faces I’ve grown to love. Which new characters wormed their way into your hearts this year?