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.

See Y’all In Austin! C&S Take #ATX

In just days, tv enthusiasts, Texas enthusiasts, and just generally enthusiastic people will be descending on Austin, TX for the ATX Television Festival. And we’ll be there, too!

ATX features screenings and panels – like a film festival, but for television. When we looked at this year’s lineup, with a Gilmore Girls reunion, a discussion with the Dawson’s Creek writers, the creatives behind Empire and Orphan Black, and tons more, attending was a no-brainer. In fact, we’ve already written about a majority of this year’s participating shows on the blog! If you’re as excited about ATX as we are, prep yourself for the festival by reading our posts about the 2015 attendees. You can also track our travels throughout next weekend with the hashtag #CandSTakeATX or by following us on Facebook or Twitter.

If you STILL need more TV talk, we’ll be doing a theme week about one of this year’s ATX shows all throughout the next week! Can you guess which one? Probably!

On to the posts:

Boy Meets World

‘Boy Meets World,’ Meet ‘Girl Meets World’
Whatareyoudoinghere: Unexpected Guest Stars Of Boy Meets World

 

Brooklyn 99

TV Characters I Need Back In My Life
Shows You Should Be Watching If You Aren’t Already: Last-Minute Binge-Watching Edition

 

Empire

Show You Should Be Watching If You Aren’t Already: Empire

 

Gilmore Girls

Whatareyoudoinghere: Unexpected Guest Stars Of Gilmore Girls
You’ve Been Gilmored: Tips For Binge-Watching Gilmore Girls

 

Dawson’s Creek

The Dawson’s Creek Virgin Diaries: Season 1
The Dawson’s Creek Virgin Diaries: Season 2
The Dawson’s Creek Virgin Diaries: Season 3
The Dawson’s Creek Virgin Diaries: Season 4
The Dawson’s Creek Virgin Diaries: Season 5
The Dawson’s Creek Virgin Diaries: Season 6
Doing Lines: Dawson’s Creek

 

Marta Kauffman (Producer, Friends, Grace and Frankie)

Live Blog: The Friends Finale, 10 Years Later

 

Orphan Black

Show You Should Be Watching If You Aren’t Already: Orphan Black
Woman Crush Wednesday: Tatiana Maslany

 

Younger

Show You Should Be Watching If You Aren’t Already: Younger

 

 

Show You Should Be Watching If You Aren’t Already: Younger

I watch too many TV shows. It’s a problem. Because of this, I’ve had to be selective when it comes to which programs I actually spend time watching. But then when my shows go on a semi-long hiatus, I get ancy like a drug addict feening for a hit. It’s then that I go to the list of bubble shows that I decided I would only watch if I found the time to. Enter Younger.

Younger is a TV Land series, which is partly why you’re confused about it. It’s not a repeat of Gunsmoke or Who’s the Boss or even Friends, and it’s not a shot-in-front-of-a-live-audience multi-cam show like Hot in Cleveland. It’s a single-cam, original series that isn’t aimed towards the baby boomer demographic. I watched the pilot and liked it so much that I watched it again immediately after it aired. But that’s partly because my DVR cut out the last 30 seconds and I obviously needed to see what happened. But that aside, it feels like a fresh, new show that isn’t trying to be anything else. So what’s it about?

Basic Plot

Liza (Sutton Foster) is 40 years old and suddenly becomes a divorced single mom of a college freshman. She gets mistaken for a 20-something by a young, hot, gentleman caller (Nico Tortoella), which makes her think she can pass for a young professional, multiplying her chances of scoring a decent job in the publishing world. It works, and she lands a position as an assistant to a Devil Wears Prada-esque boss, but her co-worker Kelsey (H Duff) befriends her and takes her under her wing. Liza attempts to keep up appearances as a “26 year old” but the problem is that no one knows her real age and real life story.

Still intrigued? Here are a few more reasons to watch one of my new favorite shows this year.

Sex and the Gilmore Girls

Darren Starr, the executive producer of Sex and the City, is the creator, writer, director, etc. of Younger, so some of that Carrie Bradshaw flair can be seen in the show. Like SATC, it also takes place in New York City, specifically Brooklyn, where Liza has to adjust to all the young hipsters. The writing of Younger is reminiscent of Gilmore Girls – while not quite as verbose and pop culture reference-y, it has a similar fast-talking pace that is perfect for the brilliant Sutton Foster, who if you recall, starred in the cancelled-too-soon dance dramedy Bunheads, created by GG’s Amy Sherman-Palladino. The fusion of these two shows results in a hip, hilarious program for millennials and older folks alike.

Hilary Duff Is Back On TV

I have been a fan of Hil since My Lizzie and Gordon OTP Days, and have loved her ever since. While she’s had some random TV cameos since (REMEMBER THE DAN HUMPHREY VANESSA THREESOME), this is a full-fledged series return since she’s had a kid. Now I don’t think she’s lined up to earn an Oscar nomination anytime soon, but her acting and mere presence feels like a breath of fresh air, and the role of Kelsey is perfect for her. She’s a strong female in the workplace and goes after what she wants with determination. She also isn’t a mean girl, which I expected her to be when I first started watching. She truly is a friend to Liza and I hope that never changes, because, girls lifting up other girls and whatnot.

Sutton Foster Is Back On TV

As previously mentioned, Sutton was in the short-lived Bunheads, which was the perfect role for her as a Vegas showgirl-turned-small-town-dance-teacher. Sutton nailed the delivery on Amy Sherman-Pallidino’s writing, which isn’t an easy feat. It also helped that Sutton is a huge Gilmore Girls fan so she knew what she was getting in to. And while some may only be familiar with her work on Bunheads, many others like me know her as Broadway royalty. Like the kind of Broadway royalty that has won two Tony Awards as Best Actress in a Musical because she’s that flawless. Whenever Broadway actors transition into TV, I always root for them like the underdog because I know how much talent they have and it deserves to be seen than more than the lucky few who get to see them perform on the stage live (see: half the cast of Bloodline). Sutton being on Younger is not only an achievement and feat for her, it’s one for us too.

Fashion

The fashion in Younger is interesting on a whole new level, in that while there are the clothes that, say, Hilary Duff’s character wears (trendy, young NYC professional), there’s that of Liza’s, which is a 40 year old woman pretending to be 26. What she wears literally depends on her livelihood. Bring in Patricia Field, the costume designer for not only Younger, but she also worked with Darren Starr on SATC. I recently read an Entertainment Weekly feature on Patricia and now I can’t stop reading about her process for styling characters and tips on how to not look like trash, basically. For example, a trick for dressing Liza is that she wears items that balance out her silhouette – i.e. being youthful is about not being overtly sexy. When Josh first hits on Liza, she’s wearing like a comfy chambray shirt – and this is what makes him not only like her, but think she’s 26.

Millennial Life As Seen By A Non-Millennial

There’s a good chunk of this show that deals with Liza just trying to keep up with the “kids” and understand the millennial language. She gets hired as an assistant, and is expected to know how social media works because that’s what we do as millennials. In one scene she comes up with this brilliant publicity campaign involving Twitter, but when she launches it, she forgets to include the hashtags, and therefore it doesn’t become the viral sensation she promised her boss it would be. In the pilot, Liza seriously asks who Lena Dunham is. Kelsey at one point has to teach her what IRL means. It’s an interesting semi-psychological study on what we do and why we do it, couched in the guise of a hilarious show.

Younger airs on TV Land Tuesdays at 10p/9c