TV Characters We Need Back In Our Lives: 2016 Edition

A great songwriter once summarized the way we feel when our favorite TV shows come back on the air after a summer hiatus:

What ever happened to predictability
The milk man, the paper boy evening TV?
You miss your old familiar friends

But miss them no longer – they’re waiting just around the bend: the best returning TV characters of Fall 2016:

Rebecca Bunch from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

We considered including Greg Serrano and Paula Proctor in this list, but ultimately we had to give it up for this great show’s leading lady. It’s not just that Rachel Bloom is a writer/creator/actress/singer/comedian/all around fantastic human. It’s also that Crazy Ex-Girlfriend hinges on the audience suspending disbelief – it’s a musical comedy after all – AND identifying with a protagonist who sounds pretty questionable on paper, what with moving cross-country to chase her camp boyfriend from 2005. Rebecca, though flawed, has to be relatable, professionally competent, and get the audience in her corner. Against the odds, you believe that Rebecca has her head in the wrong place and her heart in the right one, that she’s out of touch with reality yet the smartest person in the room.

Jessica Huang from Fresh Off The Boat

Roughly half of Jessica’s lines from Fresh Off The Boat remind me of all of the 90s moms I knew during my childhood. The rest are cut straight from my internal monologue. Jessica is exacting and confident, at turns assimilating her family into American culture and criticizing it. Jessica is a rare TV parent: neither the tough mom nor the fun mom, she is a welcome break from the smiling-while-head-shaking moms from paper towel commercials and CBS sitcoms. Just watch her getting obsessed with Melrose Place and imagining intrigues in her neighborhood, or tackling her school-aged son with a giant stuffed bunny to teach him not to date rape, or spouting off about prosperity perms and tell me she isn’t the most endearing and “aggressive yet elegant” sitcom mom there is.

As an aside, we love actress Constance Wu every bit as much as we love Jessica, and if you don’t yet, you should too.

Tina Belcher from Bob’s Burgers

It’s impossible to pick just one favorite Belcher, but I’m doing just that and it’s Tina. I have a comedic soft spot for characters who have no reason to be confident but are anyway, and that’s Tina. Plus it’s just fun to watch her and thank your lucky stars that you’re not in that horrible junior high not really a kid/not really a teenager stage any more.

Liza Miller from Younger

To paraphrase Death Cab for Cutie (we were 19 in 2006, ok?), we would follow Sutton Foster into the dark – or to TV Land. Yes, the channel where your dad watches Newhart has original programming now, and Younger is really good – kind of like a TV version of goldfish crackers, where you can consume it for a half hour and the time kind of just disappears. Liza is a 40-year-old restarting her career and passing as a 26-year-old in order to do it, which is plausible because Sutton Foster has a portrait in her attic that ages in her stead. Plus Hilary Duff is in it too, and you know we loved us some Lizzie McGuire.

Rogelio De La Vega from Jane the Virgin

I binge watched both seasons of Jane the Virgin this summer and totally got hooked, largely in part to the great writing, the outstanding acting, and the character that is Rogelio De La Vega. I’ve never seen a fake actor so egotistical yet so lovable at the same time, and I think that’s credit to Jamie Camil, who plays the Telenovela star. He has a way of saying Rogelio’s lines that make you almost sympathetic to him, before you realize what he’s actually saying – and what he’s saying is usually the most ridiculous. #RogelioMyBrogelio

Porsha from Empire

I had a few complaints about the second season of Empire, and one of them is that there wasn’t enough Porsha on the show. As Cookie’s assistant she should probably be by her side more, yet not as much as I wanted. She’s hilarious, always has good comebacks, and is the perfect complement to Cookie’s sassiness. Also, she’s an amazing rapper IRL.

Coliver from How To Get Away With Murder

I KNOW I’m not the only person who ships this couple, mainly because there are many Tumblr blogs and gifsets dedicated to this hot, sweet duo. Connor and Oliver are maybe my fave romantic couple on HTGAWM because they just care for each other so much. Connor may be more broody about his feelings while Oliver is more outright, but there’s no doubt they’re meant to be. And I’m just the creep who reblogs their romantic moments on the Internet, it’s fine.

Betty DiMello from Masters of Sex

Annaleigh Ashford. Annaleigh Ashford!!!! I’ve always admired her talents from after since she’s a Broadway staple, but her acting skills are stellar in this show as a prostitute turned experiment volunteer turned receptionist turned closest confidant. It’s been quite the arc for Betty and Annaleigh as well, and I still think she should be nominated for more awards.

Captain Ray Holt from Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Captain Holt has grown on me so much over the years, and in the best way he can, he’s opened up to the Nine-Nine slowly but surely too. Andrew Braugher does such a spectacular job showing emotion in an emotionless character, and I can’t wait to see what happens next for him and Jake come season four.

Taran Killam from Saturday Night Live

I’m in complete denial Taran isn’t coming back for the upcoming season, so we’re just going to pretend he’ll be back.

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Woman Crush Wednesday: Sofia Vergara

It’s Woman Crush Wednesday again, and today it’s all about the muy linda Sofia Vergara, who you might have seen a lot of the past few weeks. She and new BFF Reese Witherspoon are on a mega press tour for their new movie Hot Pursuit (this is not a sponsored ad, btdubs), so the two have been everywhere. Pretty much every talk show has been covered, every premiere, celebrity event and radio show – they even presented at the ACM Awards – that’s the Academy of Country Music Awards. Yes, Sofia was wondering what she was doing there too.

But it wasn’t until recently that I realized just how deep my love ran for Sofia Vergara. The moment came when I caught myself smiling through an entire interview. I started to question my sanity, then figured out it was all because Sofia was saying the most ridiculous, funny things and I couldn’t help but smile. Anyone who brings that much joy into your life deserves to be crushed on, and here are just a few reasons why.

Single Mom Respect

Although she’s currently engaged to one of the hottest men on the planet, Sofia was previously married to her high school sweetheart at the age of 18, had her son Manolo at 19, and divorced her now ex-husband at 21. She had Manolo right when her acting career in Colombia was taking off, and anyone who can handle both life as an actress and a mom – let alone being a mom by herself – is worth commending.

She’s Gone Through Shit

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right? Sofia was just two semesters away from graduating college with a degree in dentistry (that’s right, she could’ve been all up in your mouth), but she was discovered on the beach by a photographer that noticed she was special. Slowly but surely, she got a lot of jobs in her native Colombia, but she broke into the American market through Univision shows and being, you know, hot.

But Sofia moved to Miami not only to try her hand at becoming famous in the States, but also to leave a troubled Colombia behind. In 1998, her older brother Rafael was murdered during a kidnapping attempt, and it’s just one of the many deaths that plagued the country during the 90s.

By 2000, she had scored a few minor roles on U.S. TV, but she was sidelined when she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer at the age of 28. She had her thyroid removed and underwent chemotherapy, and thankfully made a full recovery. She is a big advocate for organizations like Stand Up To Cancer, but you won’t see her playing the ‘I had cancer/Woe is Me’ card any time soon.

She Knows She’s Hot

I find it annoying when hot girls play off their hotness in order to attract more attention to them. Like, ‘Oh, I look horrible in that dress, you can see all my fat!’, said Hollywood actress. No. You’re freaking beautiful, stop it. Sofia has grown up knowing she has assets (lit’rally) that work to her advantage, and she embraces it. Just like you should love your imperfections, you should also love the great parts of your body too. Confidence is believing in yourself – every bit of you.

She’s A Great Comedic Actress

Even if you think Modern Family is played out by now, you have to appreciate that she is still one of the best parts of the show. It’s why she’s received four Emmy Award nominations. Sofia plays a Latin mom, who’s married to an older white man, and integrates into a family as an “outsider”. On paper, it’s funny, and she makes Gloria even funnier. Plus, if you’ve seen any of her movies or even hosting SNL (HUNGER GAMMEESSS) , you know she’s just got natural comedic timing, that’s – dare I say – reminiscent of Lucille Ball. Sofia’s getting a Hollywood Star on the Walk of Fame on Thursday, and while it takes some actors decades to be honored with the coveted prize, it’s taken her just a few years, because honestly, she’s just that good.

She’s Straight Up Comedic

Honestly, if you’ve got time to kill (or don’t), just search Sofia Vergara talk show interviews on YouTube or go to her Modern Family co-stars’ social media accounts. You find her playing hidden camera pranks on Ellen, starring in German makeup commercials with Ellen, sleeping with tissue on her face, and even serenading the Modern Fam crew with a “Christmas Carol” while handing out presents. Just yesterday she appeared on Jimmy Fallon and played Catchprase. You could tell the press tour had worn her out, but it somehow provided an even more entertaining version of the game, because when she gets tired, her English slowly fades away. Bless you Sofia.

 

How to Cope with TV Haituses

Ah, December. The time for friends and family get together to celebrate the holidays watch the winter finales of their favorite shows. This time of year is already stressful with buying gifts, forced holiday parties, and spending too much time with family members you may not care for. But on top of that, TV fans have to gear up for a winter of no new episodes until the next year.

To help you cope with your addictions, I (myself an addict) have compiled a list of shows you should watch during the next few weeks (or months in some cases) until your faves come back on air. For example, last year, I watched all seven seasons of The West Wing in about 26 days. I realize how ridiculous that sounds, but hey, it helped distract me from the cliffhanger of Nashville. I’m only here to help, y’all.

Happy watching!

If you like:

Scandal

You might like:

The West Wing

Speaking of The West Wing… All 7 seasons are on Netflix, so you have no excuse (unless you don’t have Netflix). Scandal is probably the most difficult show to ween yourself off of, especially if you’re a #Gladiator who live tweets and doesn’t miss a single episode. Not to mention, it doesn’t come back until February 27th! So if you enjoy the political side of Scandal, excellent writing, the invention of the ‘walk and talk’ and most importantly, the never sarcastic Josh Malina/David Rosen, who plays Will Bailey from season 3 on, you’ll certainly enjoy this Emmy-winning series that went off the air seven years ago. Warning: there’s certainly not as much sex on this show – but there’s Rob Lowe and a ‘Will they- Won’t they’ situation between Deputy Chief of Staff Josh Lyman (Bradley Whitford) and his assistant Donna Moss (Janel Maloney).

If you like:

Parks and Recreation

You might like:

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

BROOKLYN-NINE-NINE-CAST-570

One name: Mike Schur. If you don’t know who he is and you’re a fan of Parks and Rec and/or The Office, you can revoke your fan privileges right now. Mike used to be a writer on The Office (and also played Dwight’s weird cousin Mose), but left the show to create Parks with Office creator Greg Daniels. Mike decided his one amazing show on NBC wasn’t enough, so he and Dan Goor, also from Parks, created Brooklyn Nine-Nine. The show is hilarious and has the same kind of ensemble quality that both Parks and The Office had. In addition, you can’t go wrong with Andy Samberg as a quirky cop. And don’t forget the fact that both the show and Andy just got nominated for Golden Globes? Congrats Mike Schur.

If you like:

Modern Family

You might like:

Trophy Wife

I’ve talked about my love for Trophy Wife before, and it certainly has not waned since then. This show just keeps getting better and better. A non-traditional family with traditional support and love for each other is exactly the type of foundation Modern Family was built on, and this show is just a different take on it. Make sure you watch the Christmas episode – probably the best of the season so far.

If you like:

Grey’s Anatomy

You might like:

Chicago Fire

Common workplace? Check. Major problem (medical mystery/kid stuck in a burning building)? Check. Hot guys? Check. Lesbians? Check. On-again, off-again/love triangles? Check. Did I mention hot guys? Check. I mean, what are you waiting for?

If you like:

Mad Men

You might like:

Masters of Sex

Okay, this is kind of not following my previous template since Mad Men hasn’t been on since the spring and is coming back in March, but it’s the closest thing to Masters of Sex. This Showtime series just wrapped its first season, and only got better as the season went on. Just like Mad Men, it’s a period drama set in the 1950s centered on (real people) Dr. William Masters (Michael Sheen) and Virginia Johnson (Lizzy Caplan), who were pioneering researchers of human sexuality. Clearly, there’s plenty of sex and nudity happening on this show. But unlike Mad Men where affairs run rampant, the sex mainly happens in the context of their research. Of course both Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan do an amazing job, but the supporting characters like Beau Bridges and his wife Allison Janney (Allison Janney! From The West Wing!!!) are just as outstanding. It’s only 12 episodes you guys!

If you like:

Homeland

You might like:

Homeland Season 1 & 2

No (major?) spoilers if you haven’t seen the season three finale yet, but UGHHH. It will be interesting to see where they go from here. That being said, season three was like a roller coaster and you had no idea where it was going, how it was going to end, or if you even liked it, but you still rode it anyways. If you liked season three, you should probably watch the first two seasons again to remind you how good the show used to be.