Out of all the articles that release for our end of the year celebration, discussing my favorite characters is somehow the one that always brings on the tears. A well written character whose arc guides the story is the reason I love television so much. The opportunity to see these people live and love and bend and break all while being incredibly human and learning through their journey never fails to be inspiring. It’s a celebration of humanity that allows us to see ourselves, as viewers in a whole new light.
1. Charlotte Heywood
Charlotte Heywood, in this version of Jane Austen’s Sanditon, might just be my favorite regency heroine, for there’s so much to say about her innate goodness and strong resourcefulness. Charlotte Heywood is the leading example of “having a soft heart in a cruel world is courage, not weakness”, but perhaps the most captivating part of Charlotte’s tenderness is that it’s woven intricately with the will to stand up for what she believes in. She’s anything but quiet and observant – she’s hardheaded, too, but her choices come from pure intent and unbelievable altruism. Charlotte’s the type of person who’d choose someone else’s happiness above her own time and time again out of the sheer belief that it’s what’s right, it’s how it should be. It’s why she can never marry for fortune because the belief that she’d be prisoning herself and thus, her partner is something she can’t live with. And it’s that very heart that makes it so easy to fall in love with her — just ask Sidney Parker. Charlotte could turn even the most jaded of souls who’ve been tainted by life’s heartbreaks into a softened man who’d do anything to ensure he remains on her good graces. Charlotte’s openness towards Georgiana, and the genuine desire to make sure she knows she’s loved speaks so highly on behalf of the person she’s aiming to be. A woman who will do everything she can to make the small world she is a part of a little brighter. She isn’t afraid to speak up and she isn’t afraid to apologize. She is willing to learn and grow. Some people are born with a lot of goodness in their bones, some learn to choose it, Charlotte is both, for learning who she is and who she wants to be is something that I hope we’ll get to see more of when Sanditon is renewed for a second series.
“Separation Part II” | Madam Secretary
With the perfectly heartfelt premiere of Brooklyn Nine-Nine and The Good Place’s incredible return episode, TV’s a delightful place again that has me grinning from ear to ear. Last week’s show of choice, Outlander showed us the ramifications of Jamie’s actions and Brianna’s frustrations leaving us with another intriguing episode. But it was Sunday’s return episode of Madam Secretary that I can’t stop thinking about.
Madam Secretary is a special show, it’s the only drama that’s allowed to be 22 episodes long because it’s the one platform that highlights politics in the eyes of a character driven cast. And both “Separation” episodes did what TV at its best does — evokes something powerful by mirroring the world we live in today. Sometimes we need to escape the treacheries of the world with fiction and sometimes, we need fiction to scream about what’s happening because it’s crucial to bettering our lives. We can try to escape and disregard politics all we want, and I’m all for people stepping back if it’s too much to bear at times, but when children are separated from their families, our voices need to be heard. And the two-part story on Madam Secretary refused to stay silent.
For the past few years, this category’s been the most difficult — trying to pick through my favorites without too much repetition from past years and the desire to give other characters the opportunity to be on here as well. But my inability to choose could’ve been due to the fact that there just weren’t that many options in the first place. And this year’s special — in both the TV verse and cinematic. And these ten characters are ones I’m certain I could not love more even if I tried. Some old with exceptional growth and some new pushing me into a state of gratitude for just how great TV’s been this year.
For more end of the year reviews, check out our Top 10 Performers, 10 Relationships and 10 Episodes.
- Lucy Preston
I don’t think there’s ever been a character as adored as quickly as Timeless’ Lucy Preston. And season two pulled the darling historian through the darkest of revelations only to have her come out of it even more generous than before. Lucy’s heart is inexpressible –there hasn’t been a character like her in a while, and it’s been a stunning ride watching her continuously open her heart despite the fact that the one person she trusted most in her life turned out to be the villain in her story. Whether it was fighting alongside the women who were to be executed during the Salem Witch Trials, standing with Suffragette Alice Paul, or welcoming Jessica to the team despite her feelings for Wyatt — Lucy’s benevolence is selflessness in its most evident form. She is nobility personified, for even when she could be choosing for herself, fighting for her own future, the other person’s effect is always taken into deep consideration, too. But the thing I appreciate most about Lucy is that even with all the compassion running in her veins, she’s not one to allow anyone to take advantage of her — she understands that goodness and naiveté aren’t the same thing. She’s fought back when she needs to. She’s cried when she’s been in pain. She’s doubted. She’s believed. She’s gotten excited. She’s shown viewers a wide range of emotions authenticating the fact that women are beautifully complex. She’s many things, but above all, she’s a woman who’s walked through fire and instead of letting it burn her, she’s used it to fuel the good fight instead. She’s walked out with the flames as phoenix feathers — stronger, wiser, and even more compassionate than before.
25 Inimitable Men 8/25
Henry McCord (Madam Secretary)
The man beside the woman — the theology professor, NSA operative, former Marine Corps Captain and pilot, but most importantly, a father and husband noble in ways not many in the world are. Henry McCord is, in every sense of the word, a hero. The kind of hero who’s not exactly in the spotlight as one, but when it comes down to his work, he’s proven that time and time again, the lives of those who know him benefit greatly from his presence. Madam Secretary is the kind of show that’s easily filled with a number of good-hearted characters, and Henry McCord is one of those characters. Henry’s ethics, kindness, and empathy make him undoubtedly inimitable and with Tim Daly’s excellent portrayal in every episode, he’s a character who could inspire many.
“Global Relief” | Madam Secretary
It’s been another great week of television as Once Upon A Time kicked off with a phenomenal, character driven episode. When Calls the Heart wrapped up its fourth season with a sweet ending. The Americans messed with our emotions. Prison Break reunited the brothers in a tear-jerker scene. Brooklyn Nine Nine gave us the status of the precinct in what should have been a longer episode. Chicago P.D. featured great moments with Voight’s character. Black-ish gave us two back to back incredibly fun episodes. And Superstore made our shipper hearts soar in an unparalleled moment of sincerity between Amy and Jonah. (This was my second choice, by the way.) But once again, Madam Secretary is the show that has delivered a truly exquisite moment.
There’s no feeling quite as indescribable as finding a fictional character to care deeply for. A character who we perhaps see ourselves in or a character who’s just so well written, it’s difficult to turn the other cheek. There are a number of fantastic TV characters — whether heroes or villains or somewhere in between, they’re so well written, they become a part of us. They become someone we cherish, someone we want the best for. They become someone we’re constantly in awe of. And 2016 has truly been one of the best years in the world of television. It’s been a strong, undeniably powerful year for complex, incredible characters.
And whatever you do, in order to get the best of Year-End reviews, you need to check out the beautiful work Nerdy Girl Notes and TV Examined are doing as well.
25 Nearest and Dearest 10/25
The McCord Family (Madam Secretary)
Infinitely grateful to have Madam Secretary recommended to me by my dear friend Caitlin last winter because it’s the gift that keeps on giving. For those who’ve been keeping up with #100DaysofFanFavorites, it’s clear at this point that I’m the biggest fan of families. And the best, most unexpected part of Madam Secretary is how beautifully the series balances politics with Elizabeth McCord’s life at home. Additionally, so often on television, with the exception of FX’s The Americans teens aren’t written with authenticity today. As opposed to showcasing the reality of what families are like through organic character development, television series often focus more on ridiculous drama . But Madam Secretary is an impeccably well-written series, which reveals the life of the McCord family in intriguing and raw moments making them one of the strongest, most fascinating teams on television.
| April 24 – May 15 |
We’ll be diverting a bit from our usual finale roundup structure to dedicate the entire compilation of categories to CBS’ Madam Secretary — the season finale that has so far been my favorite. “Vartius” dealt with three significantly intricate matters with a kind of grace very few shows have mastered. Often times where there are too many stories told in one episode, it tends to get overwhelming, and that’s especially the case with finales wanting to wrap things up, but “Vartius” reached resolutions that’ll effortlessly and brilliantly bleed into season three.
“Ghost Detainee” | Madam Secretary