Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A Salute to Sidekicks

A common trope in TV shows is that of the plucky hero/heroine and their intrepid sidekick. There's Batman and Robin, Ralph and Ed, Lucy and Ethel. In most cases, the sidekick is willing to dwell faithfully in the shadow of their confederate. But sometimes the sidekick proves to be more engaging than the so-called lead that they are supporting.

Take for example Rhoda Morgenstern. As a sassy counterpoint to the sincerity of Mary Richards. To be fair, Mary Tyler Moore's character acted as more of a "straight man" to the general wackiness of the friends and coworkers around her--and Rhoda was no exception. Of course when Rhoda's character was spun off into her own show, her sister Brenda (Julie Kavner) became the sidekick who often eclipsed Rhoda.

Here are some examples of my favorite scene-stealing sidekicks:

Jack and Karen

The show may have been called "Will & Grace," but the true stars were Sean Hayes and Megan Mullally as Jack and Karen. I never quite got why GLAAD showered the show which perpetuated broad stereotypes with so many awards, but Jack and Karen never failed to amuse.

Sam Axe

Burn Notice is a show about a burned spy named Michael Westen who is trying to find out who betrayed him and regain his status with the CIA. I'm sure many people watch the show to see how Jeffrey Donovan's character employs his super spy skills to save the day, but I'm more engaged by the comic relief provided by Bruce Campbell who plays Michael's friend, Sam Axe. Sam is a beer-swilling, wise-cracking, ex-military turned gigolo-type--but he's also completely loyal and dependable.

If I needed someone to lay down cover fire while I surreptitiously advance upon my target, it'd be Sam Axe.


Matt Bomer is indisputably one of the most beautiful people I have ever--and man, can he wear the @#$% out of a suit! But the reason I keep tuning into White Collar each week is not for Neal Caffrey, the dapper grifter or even the stoic and steadfast Peter Burke (Tim DeKay). It's for Willie Garson's paranoid thief and Neal's cohort, Mozzie.

Garson was adorable as Stanford Blatch on Sex and the City, but he gets more screen time on White Collar. And thank goodness because his character is the most fun on this show.


While Edie Falco is always watchable in whatever role she plays, she is surrounded by talent with the cast of Nurse Jackie. I love each and every character! But Merritt Wever as Jackie's acolyte, Zoey Barkow is definitely a scene stealer. Zoey idolizes Jackie, but still manages to stand on her own among an exceptional ensemble.


As a physicist nerd afflicted by selective mutism around women, Kunal Nayyar as Rajesh Koothrappali on The Big Bang Theory doesn't have a lot of lines. But when he does, he absolutely crushes them.

Penny: We should have never slept together. It's what ruins friendships.

Raj Koothrappali: You can't ruin a friendship with sex. That's like trying to ruin ice cream with chocolate sprinkles.

Plus he's really adorable...


Grimm is one of two fairy tale-inspired series this season. It's pretty much a police procedural with supernatural type characters (wolves, bears, spiders and more). One of these anthropomorphic beings is played by Silas Weir Mitchell. His character of Monroe has turned out to be a true blue (or more accurately, "Blutbad") friend to Grimm descendant, Nick Burkhardt. Nick is a somewhat bland, boring character (although easy on the eyes) so it's pretty easy for Monroe to capture the spotlight.

Any TV sidekicks that make your must-watch list?

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