The Five: Awesome TV jerks
If everyone was nice, life would get pretty boring, wouldn't it? The television landscape is full of characters who made shows more interesting by doing what they do best: annoying the living hell out of everyone else. There's a lot to choose from, so share some of your favorites in the comments. Below are some of my personal faves:
Major Frank Burns: Alan Alda gets a lot of credit for his acting chops and his portrayal of Hawkeye on M*A*S*H, but Larry Linville deserves just as much, if not more, credit for his role as Frank Burns during the show's early years. Yes, he was a jerk, and yes, he was self-centered and only cared about doing what was in his best interest, but beneath it all was a very real vulnerability, a man who still held on to the childhood notion that the world owed him something. Maintaining that balance is not easy, but Linville did it perfectly.
Dr. Gregory House: Besides affecting an American accent that puts Michael Caine's to shame, Hugh Laurie manages to be both abrasive and lovable, like a cactus crossbred with a teddy bear. House is a character that could only exist on television, because I can't imagine anyone like that in the real world wouldn't have been beaten to a bloody pulp by now. Of course, he has been smacked and shot with a gun, but I still maintain he would been hit and shot a lot more if he existed outside of the TV world. It's that distance that makes House so much fun to watch.
Archie Bunker: Like the first two fellas on this list, Archie was a jerk with a tender side. Well, maybe House doesn't have a tender side, and if he does it's very small and probably attached to his liver or something. Anyway, I've always thought of Archie as being representative of both my grandfathers: gruff, incredibly narrow in their worldview, but somebody who loved his family in his own unique way. I wouldn't want to discuss social issues with Archie, but I'd go fishing with him.
C. Montgomery Burns: To quote Smithers, "When he tried to steal our sunlight, he crossed that line between everyday villainy and cartoonish super-villainy." If one thing can be said about Mr. Burns, it's that he always keeps the residents of Springfield on their toes. Will he be an old, decrepit man who can do no harm to anyone, or a madman who points guns at children and steals their puppies?
Master Shake: The jerks on this list all have at least one thing in common: beneath their rough exterior they have at least a modicum of kindness to them. Master Shake from Aqua Teen Hunger Force is the exception, though, because no matter how often his self-serving attitude results in him being maimed or blown the heck up, he never learns his lesson. You do have to admire his tenacity, though.