Weirdly sincere – the best characters on American TV


I love eccentric people. I find they are more interesting as they are being their unusual selves, whereas many of us tend to hide our stranger sides from public view. These people spice up our vanilla world. This is the same reason I treasure eclectic places.

On American television, there are five characters who I adore for their eccentricities and entertainment value. I recognize there are many others, so I would love to hear from you about your favorites, but let me get the conversation started with these five, two of whom are on commercials.

My favorite character hands-down is Flo from the Progressive Insurance television commercials. The title of the post is how the ad agency that created the Flo character defines her – “weirdly sincere.” Flo dresses in an all-white outfit along with black Chuck Taylors on her feet and a retro hairstyle with her raven black hair. She makes the “Progressive store” fun and helpful, which is a powerful combination. But, the mini-episodes that she is placed in are priceless entertainment, down to the two foils from the other insurance company. The latest commercials have the actress Stephanie Courtney, who plays Flo so well, appear as various family members (men as well) around a family table or playing charades.

My favorite TV show character is Abby Sciuto on NCIS. Pauley Perrette plays the Goth dressed, visibly tattooed Abby to perfection. She is also weirdly sincere and childlike in her love of her colleagues, Christmas, Halloween, family, etc. She is also extremely competent and has a passion for her work which is to use scientific evidence to solve crimes. I think many people like Abby as she shows you don’t have to be anyone different from you are to do your job well. Plus, her sincerity gushes forth, so you just like Abby as do her colleagues.

The most awarded actor for playing a wonderfully eclectic character is Jim Parsons who plays Dr. Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory. Sheldon is brilliant, but has an Asperger’s like focus on his work and profession. His friends bemoan his quirkiness, but are loyal to him nonetheless, which makes the show. Of course, they have their own set of quirky characteristics and are also smart, which bonds them even more. Even the girlfriends and wife bring their own sets of eccentricities and challenges. But, the show would not be the same without Sheldon as the lead eccentric.

The final TV show character who endears me is Penelope Garcia on Criminal Minds. Played by Kirsten Vangsness, Garcia is not unlike Abby with her sincere desire to help colleagues which is leveraged by her competence. And, like Abby she uses her expeditious technical skills to find answers to questions to help her colleagues solve crimes. The show would not be as good without Garcia doing her thing and making us adore her. I also like her playful banter with Agent Derek Morgan when he is needing her help.

My final character is less weird, but charmingly cute and competent. Lily is the AT&T supervisor in the commercial that knows the answers to any questions thrown her way by interesting or famous customers. Lily is played by the Uzbekistan born comedic actress, Milana Vayntrub. I have several favorite commercials with her, but the one with professional basketball player Grant Hill is quite memorable, due to their difference in size and the fact she has no idea who he is. I also like the one where she reads the mind of a prospective customer answering his questions before asked.

Honorable mentions go to the red-headed Wendy in the TV commercial for the Wendy’s hamburger fast food chain and all other cast members on The Big Bang Theory. Please let me know your favorites and what your impressions are of those I mentioned. Tell me why you love them, as I may not have seen the show.


19 thoughts on “Weirdly sincere – the best characters on American TV

  1. I also like Flo and especially Jim Parsons. Not so much the red-head on the Wendy’s commercials (she seems to full of herself for my taste). But I would like to nominate Raj out of the rest of the cast of Big Bang. My favorites would then come from British who-dunnits. Poirot stands out as does the new Sherlock. Fun and games!

    • Poirot is ideal. I even think Agatha Christie described him as eccentric. M daughter loves Poirot, but does not like the approach of Miss Marple. She has read twenty of the former and one of the latter. I have not seen the new British Sherlock, although we like the Elementary show here. I like Raj as well, especially when he could not speak in front of Penny until he drank. I agree Wendy can be full of herself. To me, the best character from an old show is Barney Fife; I started to mention him, but he deserves his own post. Thanks for your comments.

      • Indeed. I think I saw online them doing a flash mob in the middle of taping, where the crew and then cast got involved. Raj led it and is extremely talented. I think he surprised many when he came out of character. The show continues to stay fresh, which is a credit to many.

      • I think it was on Discovery channel, and might still be going on?? There was a San Francisco edition and a New York edition (NY was the original.) It’s not scripted, just follows the shop owners in their search for oddities to sell, but along the way there is a lot of funkiness.

      • Susan, I checked out a couple of video segments of “Oddities” and I see why you mentioned it. They had some interesting customers looking for interesting things. I loved it. Thanks for sharing, BTG

  2. I adore Sheldon Cooper! I tend to identify with many of the off-beat characters, usually ones that are very logical and smart, but have difficulty with emotions, showing them, dealing with them, or understanding them. House, Monk, Temperance Brennan from Bones are some of my favorites. Denny Crain, played by William Shatner, from Boston Legal was one of the best characters of all time. My latest favorite is Benedict Cumberbatch’s SherlockHolmes-you can watch all the episodes on Netflix! Oh, last but not least is Tyrion Lannister on Game of Thrones.

    • Great list! You are spot on: Denny Crain was the best role Shatner ever played, I wuld think. And Cumberbatch makes Sherlock much more interesting than Jeremy Brett did — though Sherlock remains one of the great characters of all time!

      • I will need to check out Cumberbatch and look into Boston Legal. Sherlock embodies quirkiness. I was disappointed in the movie when they made him a physical hero type rather than the quirky, scientific method type.

      • Well, that’s American TV and entertainment for you: make the hero like Clint Eastwood. The Brits want their herpes quirky and intelligent. There is a minimum of violence in British who-dunnits — except for the initial murder(s) of course!

    • Thanks Amaya. House and Monk definitely fit the bill. Good choices. I have not watched the other shows, so I cannot respond, but someone else noted the new Sherlock. My wife, daughter and I like Elementary’s Sherlock as well. Isn’t it ironic that Captain Kirk would come back and play a quirky character? Thanks for your thoughts.

      • Elementary’s Sherlock is ok, but you MUST watch the BBC version. MUST. Seasons are TWO YEARS apart, but fortunately all three seasons to date are available for immediate consumption. My daughter and I have watched them over and over again. Funny and smart, my favorite combo.

  3. Note to Readers: I mentioned in one of my responses that to me one of the best characters in the history of TV is Barney Fife. It amazes me the talent and story writing around Don Knotts’ character. For example, the idea that Sheriff Andy Taylor would let Barney carry a gun, but would only allow him one bullet that he had to keep in his buttoned shirt pocket is as good as it gets. Lucy Ricardo of “I Love Lucy” is also a great character played by a very talented actress Lucille Ball. While her character is not as eccentric as Barney, Lucy was a funny and zany as anyone.

    I also wanted to comment on the two long running shows Bob Newhart had on TV. He was surrounded in both by wonderfully eccentric characters, which he played off as the lone sane person. The fact he ended his second show with the best finale ever, awakening from a bizarre dream (which was his second show) to his first show’s wife, actress Suzanne Pleshette, was priceless.

    Finally, I must give kudos to Tim Conway and his performances on The Carol Burnett Show. Consistently, he played some of the most eccentric and bizarre characters that were good enough to be played again and again. Some of the characters on Saturday Night Live also deserve recognition for their ability to remain funny over time – Wayne’s World, The Church Lady, and Mister Robinson’s Neighborhood are a few that come to mind.

    • You’re having fun with this, aren’t you!!?? Don’t forget that Bob Newhart has repeat guest-appearances on Big Bang! He is one if the truly great ones….as was Conway (who tried repeatedly to get Vicky Lawrence to laugh at his unrehearsed remarks — and finally did it with his “Love your blue hair, Mother Harper!” comment). This is fun.

      • I am indeed. Newhart was a great add to The Big Bang. The fact his character would stay around if Penny was in the room and he thought Leonard was the real genius for having her as a girlfriend were clever scripts. Mama was a great character that originally was supposed to be Carol’s role, but they switched. She stopped the show when Conway was going on and on about a failed elephant lamp he had made. Mama said off the cuff, “is that little asshole finished?”

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