Meet this season’s 10 TV scene-stealers and scene-killers

They can steal the spotlight, or leave the lead to do the heavy lifting. Meet TV's best and worst supporting actors SLIDE SHOW

Topics: TV, Television, Sitcoms, dramas, Media Criticism, slideshow,

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    NBC Universal

    Meet this season's 10 TV scene-stealers and scene-killers

    Worst: Lily (Zoe Lister Jones) on “Whitney”

    Lily is not the worst supporting character on “Whitney” — that would be Whitney’s husband’s inexplicably dim, inexplicably a cop best guy pal — but she’s the one for whom I feel worst, because she is played by Zoe Lister-Jones, who has previously created and starred in her own pretty OK movie (“Breaking Upwards”) and deserves better than bad jokes. Free Zoe.

    NBC Universal

    Meet this season's 10 TV scene-stealers and scene-killers

    Worst: Danny Castellano (Chris Messina) on “The Mindy Project”

    I am optimistic that my feelings about Dr. Danny Castellano, grade-A jerk, will change as “The Mindy Project” works out its kinks, because Danny is a major one. Until then, however, he’s a stridently unlikable character (and bad dancer) we’re supposed to like (and think is a good dancer), which only makes it harder to stomach him.

    Fox

    Meet this season's 10 TV scene-stealers and scene-killers

    Worst: Winston (Lamorne Morris) on “New Girl”

    On another show the continued mediocrity of Winston would be unremarkable. He’s funny sometimes. (He did a nice job reading “Z Is for Zombie” out loud this past week.) But the other supporting characters on “New Girl,” Schmidt and Nick, are so stellar, Winston keeps getting embarrassed by comparison. Maybe one day the writers will figure out what to do with Winston — or they can make him wear a pirate earring again.

    Showtime

    Meet this season's 10 TV scene-stealers and scene-killers

    Worst: Nicholas Brody's son, Chris (Jackson Pace), on “Homeland”

    This is pretty mean, you might say, because Chris is just a kid! And this is true (and it is kind of mean). But “Homeland” has done a great job fleshing out Dana, Brody’s other child, while Chris, never, ever gets anything to do and is treated like little more than a rapidly growing movable prop.

    ABC

    Meet this season's 10 TV scene-stealers and scene-killers

    Worst: Tani (Dichen Lachman) on “Last Resort”

    Here’s another character fail that’s more the fault of the writers than the actor. On Joss Whedon’s “Dollhouse” Lachman regularly acted circles around the show's star (Eliza Dusku). On “Last Resort” she got stranded in a C-story line as an islander who never gets to interact with any of the sailors except one Navy SEAL. She could be put to better use.

    Fox

    Meet this season's 10 TV scene-stealers and scene-killers

    Best: BJ (Lucy Punch) on “Ben and Kate”

    Brit Lucy Punch, who plays Kate’s sultry, over-confident best friend BJ, steals every scene she’s in. She deserves a show all her own.

    NBC Universal

    Meet this season's 10 TV scene-stealers and scene-killers

    Best: Morgan (Ike Barinholtz) on “The Mindy Project”

    A standout on “Eastbound & Down,” Ike Barinholtz has been standing out on “Mindy” ever since he showed up in the second episode as big-hearted, too-quick-to-punch-people ex-con Morgan. He is to lovable, well-meaning doofi, what Danny Castellano is to pompous know-it-alls.

    ABC

    Meet this season's 10 TV scene-stealers and scene-killers

    Best: Mellie (Bellamy Young) on “Scandal”

    The president’s cuckolded wife, Mellie, is half–Lady Macbeth, half-sympathetic character, scheming in one scene, haranguing her husband in another, rightfully hurt in another (and, as of Thursday night, maybe letting her husband walk into an assassination attempt in another). No matter what she’s doing, Mellie’s more interesting than the show’s heroine, Olivia Pope, who is just as shady, but whom we’re supposed to admire unconditionally anyway.

    ABC

    Meet this season's 10 TV scene-stealers and scene-killers

    Best: Jackie Joyner Kersee (Toks Olagundoye) on “The Neighbors”

    Toks Olagundoye plays the female alien lead on “The Neighbors,” an alien who has a British accent, two kids, an uptight alien husband, curious human neighbors, and the name Jackie Joyner Kersee. Out of such an absurd premise she wrings something understated and dry.

    HBO

    Meet this season's 10 TV scene-stealers and scene-killers

    Best: Gyp Rosetti (Bobby Cannavale) on “Boardwalk Empire”

    “Boardwalk Empire” is so much phony bologna, but Bobby Cannavale has been chewing up scenery all season as the crazy sensitive, ultra-violent, auto-asphyxiating mobster Gyp Rosetti. It’s not that there’s never been a mobster like this before — see, Joe Pesci in everything— but compared to everyone else on “Boardwalk,” Cannavale seems like part of a more vibrant, compelling, maybe even campier show.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Every TV show has a lead actor or actress — but then there’s everyone else. Supporting characters may not sell the show, but they’re integral to what makes a series good or bad, funny — or so, so not funny. Herewith, a slideshow of the five best and five worst supporting actors on relatively new TV shows (or, as in the case of Bobby Cannavale, in new parts on longer-running TV shows) from Danny Castellano to Sgt. Brody’s son. (And yes, basically every one on “2 Broke Girls” could have made this list, but that seemed too easy.)

Willa Paskin

Willa Paskin is Salon's staff TV writer.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Elliott and the friends with whom he recorded in middle school in Texas (photo courtesy of Dan Pickering)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Heatmiser publicity shot (L-R: Tony Lash, Brandt Peterson, Neil Gust, Elliott Smith) (photo courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Elliott and JJ Gonson (photo courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    "Stray" 7-inch, Cavity Search Records (photo courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Elliott's Hampshire College ID photo, 1987

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Elliott with "Le Domino," the guitar he used on "Roman Candle" (courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Full "Roman Candle" record cover (courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Elliott goofing off in Portland (courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Heatmiser (L-R: Elliott Smith, Neil Gust, Tony Lash, Brandt Peterson)(courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    The Greenhouse Sleeve -- Cassette sleeve from Murder of Crows release, 1988, with first appearance of Condor Avenue (photo courtesy of Glynnis Fawkes)

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>