Secondary best: Five best supporting characters on TV

Updated: 16 Jul 2012

It’s not always the primary role who steals the show; it’s the supporting characters. Syarifah Syazana picks five TV shows whose supporting characters overshadow the lead

Barney and Marshall – ‘How I Met Your Mother’ (HIMYM)
Think about it: Would you still like ‘How I Met Your Mother’ as much as you do without the added awesomeness of Barney and Marshall? We highly doubt it. While Ted does have his moments, he is outshone by his funnier, more interesting male friends: Barney has his epic lines and self-made theories (See: The Hot/Crazy Scale, The Cheerleader Effect and the Lemon Law) while Marshall is the goofy sensitive guy who believes in aliens and the supernatural. The story may be about Ted telling his future kids about how he met their mother, but we like it better when it’s about Barney and Marshall.
Every Mon, 8pm, STAR World

Sheldon – ‘The Big Bang Theory’
Maybe in real life befriending an asexual obsessive-compulsive theoretical physicist who doesn’t do well in social situations and regards himself as highly superior would be too much to handle, but it works on television. In the case of ‘The Big Bang Theory’, Sheldon’s character upstages roommate and intended male lead Leonard in so many ways that the latter is reduced to just being the ‘geeky but normal guy’. With ingenuous creations like ‘Rock, paper, scissors, lizard, Spock’ (a variation of the original with more outcomes) and ‘The Roommate Agreement’ to his name, Sheldon is like the Arthur Fonzarelli of the show. However ironic that statement may sound.

The other guys – ‘New Girl’
Jess is an eccentric kind – she’s loud and weird – but we assume that the creators intended her as the central character everyone adores (she’s played by Zooey Deschanel after all, who sits very well with the indie community). After one or two episodes though, her quirkiness seems a tad overdone and repetitive (remember when she tried to defrost a turkey by putting it in the dryer?) so the only way we can still watch the show is by focusing on her three male housemates. The love-lost sap Nick, Schmidt the wannabe womaniser and basketball has-been Winston aren’t as crazy, but at least they’re real characters people can relate to. We ain’t buying the whole ‘extremely pretty social spaz’ thing.
Every Mon, 8.25pm, STAR World

Abed – ‘Community’
Main character Jeff Winger is a snooty, self-worshipping ex-lawyer who sports enough hair gel to lubricate an elephant. We’re not saying it’s a bad thing but on a show so richly rooted around character study, the eccentricity of Abed is more delightful to observe, especially with the slow (but sure) sexualisation of Annie, the nonsensical gibbering of Pierce, and Britta’s constant save-the-world whines. Not a word passes Abed’s lips that aren’t meta-referenced in hard-to-catch speed. Despite being aware of his wonderfully weird ways, Abed’s social inabilities never hinder him from making friends (note his on-screen chemistry with ex-jock Troy), chatting up girls and essentially, being the voice of reason in the study group. Who knew a combination of lizard, oddball, humour and kindness could be this killer?

Kurt – ‘Glee’
‘Glee’ may centre around the members of New Directions and the kids and staff of William McKinley High School, but it’s ultimately Rachel and Finn that get the spotlight (although even the most passionate of Gleeks admit that Rachel is pretty annoying). With that said, an unsung hero that deserves due credit is Kurt; the fearless, flamboyant rainbow of the group who manages to stay strong through teenage adversity – anxiety over his identity, coming out to his dad, and dealing with bullying and death threats. He’s a character who’s funny and smart; he’s probably developed the most significantly out of the lot and for that we salute him.

Tags: Film