If you watch as much television as I do, meeting a new character on a show feels like adding someone new into your life, like that time I’d had the feeling I met a new guy but realized it was just because I’d been watching so much Lee Pace on Wonderfalls. Related: I could watch him hang out in a wooded clearing wearing a Northface fleece and drinking coffee forever. Call me Lee, whenever you get an inkling to do so. Anyway, like meeting a new person in real life, you’re somewhat wary of them. There’s a looming unfamiliarity and hesitance but eventually you both chip away those walls and gain an intimacy and connection.
This was easily one of the best years of television in awhile (ironically, the same year my bank account decided I could no longer afford cable) and with a dwindling amount of reality shows, an increase in programs based on the supernatural, and network television’s slow but sure move to creating storylines and cinematography that could rival film, this year gave way to some amazing TV. Also, we had Whitney.
In any case, here are my top 10 favorite new friends from 2011.
10. Constance (Jessica Lange, American Horror Story: Although the show has proved to basically be FX’s Two and a Half Men in terms of polarizing its audience, everyone I’ve talked to can agree that Constance is dope. She is the person you’d call after your boyfriend dumped you over a text message because she’d say something like, “to hell with that fucker. Let’s make him a cake and poison it.” There’s a serious sense of off-kilter justice being sought by her at all times, and with good reason. If all your kids died in horrible ways and then went back to haunt the house they died in and your weirdo burn victim ex-husband was always trying to get back with you and for god’s sake, you just want a pack of Marlboro 100s and some peace and quiet to try t0 help gestate a devil baby, wouldn’t you be fed up too?
9. Nelson (Rufus Jones, Mongrels): People sleep on Hulu’s programming a lot because Netflix always makes a bigger fuss about adding new things to their streaming library and because Hulu generally feels a little old. But what they’re doing that no one seems to be catching onto is adding a lot of great unheard-of-as-of-yet British television to their collection. One such addition is Mongrels, an adult puppet sitcom about animals living in the East End of London. Nelson is an earnest, somewhat level-headed fox with nothing but good intentions and nothing but bad luck. Constantly trying to right wrongs and prevent misfortune, he often winds up in the middle of the messes he’s trying to clean up. He’s basically all of us, only he’s covered in fur and in love with an Afghan Hound. You can relate.
8. Frank Smith (Brad Neely, China, IL): From Brad Neely’s delightfully fucked-up animation station came China, IL, a cartoon about the worst college ever, and the professors who work there. Frank, the older brother of much cooler Steve Smith, is always trying to get everyone’s attention and become more popular than his brother. He prides himself on his breakdancing skills and once almost gay-married a ghost so his teaching dept could have more students.
7. Triangle Sally (Kristen Wiig, SNL): Very few things on this earth make me laugh like Triangle Sally. She is that kooky friend of yours that is always doing bits to and for herself without warning anyone else. I feel like I could see Triangle Sally popping up at a party and people loving the fuck out of it because, it’s Hammer pants and a triangle. No one could lose with that.
6. Ava (Maya Rudolph, Up All Night): I’m 90% sure Maya Rudolph’s character in this show is an extension of herself but with more relationship baggage, 4″ heels, and R&B/Pop singles on youtube. I want to spend a whole day with Ava as she shows me around her trophy room, tells me the best time she ever threw a cell phone at Naomi Campbell, lets me watch her eat her dinner, and then takes me driving down Mulholland Drive as we sing Toni Braxton’s “Unbreak My Heart” and she pretends she wrote it.
5. Jean-Ralphio (Ben Schwartz, Parks and Recreation): One half of Entertainment 720 (RIP) and a connoisseur of all things baller, Jean-Ralphio may just be my favorite person that isn’t Leslie Knope. From confidently giving faulty advice to affecting his own dialect (I sometimes call things ‘deloyshous;’ yes I am ashamed), Jean-Ralphio is the last person at the party you’d want to hook up with but the first person you’d want to see there.
4. Adam DeMamp (Adam DeVine, Workaholics): I’m such an idiot. When Comedy Central started advertising for this show earlier this year, I totally wrote it off. Although, in my defense, most of my anger towards good things stems from my lack of foresight to create them myself. See: my inexplicable hatred of the Ting Tings super-jam “That’s Not My Name.” Of all the characters on this show, Adam is the one I get the most. Overly-confident, under-educated, argumentative, but incredibly caring, he is that friend of yours that will make excuses as to why he couldn’t stick up for you during that bar fight but suggest you both shotgun an 18-pack to get over it.
3. Penny (Casey Wilson, Happy Endings): Basically your all-around BFF. The one to call when you’re feeling fat or tired or in need or pedicure or movie marathon or a round of bloody marys and ribs. Penny is a magical woman, the kind that takes charge of her adulthood but still remains childlike in a way that isn’t creepy or Zooey Deschanel. Plus she knows how to speak Italian when she’s drunk and likes things non-ironically, so I love her.
2. Max (Adam Pally, Happy Endings): This was rough, like choosing between whiskey gingers and whiskey cokes. They’re both perfect and sometimes more perfect than the other and sometimes perfect alongside one another. And then you’re drunk. What? Anyway, Max is impulsive and clever and quick-witted and the straightest gay friend you’ll ever have. The guy who will speak at your wedding and then take you for a hot air balloon ride to cheer you up through your divorce.
1. Jillian Belk (Jillian Bell, Workaholics): She deadpans “She’ll Be Coming Around the Mountain when She Comes” at karaoke, followed with a creepily earnest, “Thank you so fucking much,” her cats eat one another, she tries out her pubically-inclined improv bits on children, and she refers to her boss as a “real trick.” Jillian is you and she is me and she is every somewhat socially-awkward girl who never really had a lot of girlfriends and never really got out of the friend-zone with boys. We are the 99 % Jillian, and I am with you so fucking much.
Honorable mentions to this list include Ruxin (Nick Kroll) from The League, Li’l Sebastian (Shetland Pony) from Parks and Rec, Schmitty (Jason Sudeikis) from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, basically everyone on Pan-Am who wasn’t Christina Ricci, and most likely Sofia Vergara’s character if I had ever watched Modern Family. Also someone from Game of Thrones, probably, but that show looked so INTENSE, right guys?