In Praise of Supporting Characters

I think it goes all the way back to my childhood.  I have vague recollections of reading children’s books where I was kind of annoyed by the main character, but loved the minor characters enough to keep reading.  I can’t list specifics, but I know it happened.  For whatever reason, I’ve always loved those characters who don’t overstay their welcome.  Who rarely get to be the center of attention.  The supporting cast.

Take Bones, for example.  Cammy’s a nice, standard issue Bones/Booth shipper.  Now I’m not saying I don’t love me some B&B UST (unresolved sexual tension for you non-fangirls out there) but my real concern on that show is that Hodgins and Angela get together and ten thousand weird but adorable multiracial children.  And while we’re at it, I’d rather have Hodgins make me an orgasmic grilled cheese than have Booth rescue me from near certain death.  Or grill for me.

But at least with Bones I like the main characters.  There are a whole group of shows I watch exclusively for their supporting cast.  The short lived and never better than mediocre series Moonlight was one example.  Alex O’Loughlin is sufficiently dreamy, but Mick was never more than a cliche.  And a bad one at that.  And Beth I wanted to smack in most scenes.  But Josef?  I would have kept watching if the show had centered on his character (yes, it’s in part my love for Jason Dohring, but it was also about the character.)  Even that cyber punkish chick who showed up in one episode who’s job it was to clean up after vampires.  I would have watched a show about her.  Hell, I would have watched a show about the Latino vampire morgue attendant.  Great supporting characters, even though the show as a whole was justly canceled.

Right now my supporting character show is Human Target.  Christopher Chance is okay, but sometimes I want to smack him in the mouth.  But I keep watching the show, because I love Winston and Guerrero.  Chi McBride is one of those actors who apparently shines as a supporting character as he was one of my favorite parts of Pushing Daisies too.  Allison Janney is another.  Have you seen Drop Dead Gorgeous or Juno?  She practically steals both of those.

I don’t know if this comes through to other people, or if I just have a personal proclivity towards supporting characters.  But it’s amazing how much they can improve a narrative, whether it was good to start with or not. What do you think internets?  Who are your favorite supporting characters?

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