Revising the list of 100 greatest pop culture characters
Entertainment Weekly is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. Of course, such an occasion can only be commemorated in classic magazine fashion: with a mega-list.
That's why the cover of this week's EW is devoted to the 100 greatest characters of the last 20 years. Entertainment Weekly hasn't posted the full list on its Web site because they want readers to do this old-fangled thing called subscribing or buying a copy off the -- What's that weird thing called again? Oh yeah -- newsstand. As a consequence, Live Journal has published the full list because that's what happens on the Web when you don't publish the list; someone else does it for ya. (Seriously, though, you should subscribe to EW; it is a fine magazine even if it does occasionally keep some of its best content off the Internet.)
The list is like most lists usually are. Most entries are spot-on (Homer Simpson, Harry Potter, The Dude, Cartman), some are questionable (Hancock??) and a few omissions are glaring.
Here are the five characters that should have been dropped, and five pop culture icons that should have been added to EW's master rundown.
Should have been dropped off the list:
Harold and Kumar: Sure, those two names have become the default synonyms for the modern-day stoner. But were they among the most well-drawn, memorable characters of the past two decades? I think not; the main thing I remember about watching their trip to "White Castle" was the part where they picked up Neil Patrick Harris. And yes, I was dead sober at the time.
Hancock: I know I said this already, but really?? This wannabe blockbuster was probably the most uneven Will Smith effort ever. I mean, if someone showed up at a Halloween party dressed as Hancock, would you even realize that's who he was dressed as? Enough said.
Rachel Green: "Friends" certainly should be represented on the list, but it was such an ensemble piece that it seems odd to single out any one of the six as a "greatest character," even if she did sport the shag that every women coveted in the mid-'90s. Either replace Rachel with the whole Central Perk crew, or if only one can get a slot, then give it to the Friend with the quirkiest sensibility and the good sense to marry Paul Rudd: Phoebe Buffay.
Wilhelmina Slater: Vanessa Williams certainly played the snippy-but-vulnerable Mode editor with panache, but because of the timing of "Ugly Betty's" arrival on the airwaves -- a few short months after the big screen adaptation of "The Devil Wears Prada" -- the character seemed a bit familiar. Meryl Streep's Miranda Priestly is on the list at No. 69, by the way, which makes Slater's No. 95 appearance seem even more been-there, done that.
Tim Riggins: I love "Friday Night Lights." Like, seriously love it. And the sight of Taylor Kitsch in the role of the aimless former Dillon Panther running back always gives me a feeling that I'll refer to politely as, um, great joy. But is Tim -- as opposed to FNL's Coach Taylor, or Tami Taylor, or even Landry Clarke -- one of the 100 greatest characters to arrive on the pop culture scene since 1990?
Should have been added to the list:
Dora the Explorer: Kiddie characters like Elmo and Spongebob Squarepants made the list, and rightfully so. But Dora -- who may be more popular than Spongebob with the under-8 set, if my son's daycare classmates are any indication -- belongs here, too, with map in hand and Boots by her side.
Nemo: The EW staff undoubtedly tried to represent each pop culture phenomenon with a solo entry so that the list wouldn't get taken over by a single film/actor/studio. Their Pixar representative is Woody from "Toy Story" at No. 25. But I think they should have broken their rules to wedge in Nemo -- the adorable runaway, star of Pixar's highest-grossing movie ever and a character whose name has pretty much replaced clown fish as a scientific classification.
Agent Dale Cooper: I obviously have a special place in my heart for "Twin Peaks," but name another TV detective who regularly spoke to a woman named Diane via tape recorder, had weird nightmares involving dancing little people and attempted to solve crimes while discussing Tibet. You can't. And that's why this damn fine character (along with his damn fine cup of coffee) should have been on the list.
Steve Stifler: I would argue that the modern era of frat boy comedies and bromances really got kick started by the success of 1999's "American Pie." And I would further argue that Steve Stifler -- the utterly recognizable, arrogant jokester of a jock -- is the greatest character to emerge from the franchise. Should have been on the list.
Bart Simpson: Homer Simpson ranked No. 1 on the list. I have no problem with that. But, like Pixar, "The Simpsons" is a pop culture entity that has earned the right to more than one entry. And Bart should be it. When "The Simpsons" debuted, it was Bart -- with his smart alecky attitude, spiky hair and then-shocking-for-TV language ("Eat my shorts") -- who immediately shot to pop-culture icon status. He's Bart Simpson. Where the hell is he on this list?
Agree with my breakdown? Or do you have other suggestions about how to modify the EW greatest character list? Weigh in with a comment (or several) below.
| June 1, 2010; 1:54 PM ET
Categories: Pop Culture | Tags: Lists, Pop Culture
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