Believe it or not, we’re at the end of another year. Given the way 2017 has gone at times, the prospect of change and starting anew with another year is a nice and welcome prospect. However, the end of year is also the perfect time for reflection and for all those “Best of Lists” to start going around. With so many TV series available these days it’s hard to keep up and watch it all. Even if you’re DVRing, you probably still find yourself perpetually behind and trying to play catch up. The good thing is though, with so many series available there’s bound to be a show for everyone.
All those shows also mean that there’s so many different TV characters out there to fall in love with, idolize, want to be friends with or even despise. Just like series, all characters are not created equal and some just make television a better place to be. There are certain characters that make me look forward to spending quality time with them each week, and characters I use to help me relax after a long day. They may not be completely perfect or even the most strongly written at times, but they are the characters that bring me the most joy and make TV enjoyable to watch. So yes, they may have flaws, but they also bring me back week after week.
Please keep in mind, these characters are listed in no particular order. So without further adieu here are my Most Enjoyable Characters of 2017.
Ophelia Mayer – Sweet/Vicious
Just imagine if Sweet/Vicious premiered one year later. Oh, what could have been! The MTV drama about two girls taking on the sexual assault epidemic on their college campus would’ve been extremely relevant if still on the air, but it also would’ve given a sorely needed voice to victims. Eliza Bennett and Taylor Dearden were both extremely talented, well cast and impressive as Jules and Ophelia, but I can only pick one of the ladies here. My heart belonged to Ophelia from the moment I first laid eyes on her green head of hair. Dearden was the master of the deadpan delivery, always able to lighten a scene by perfectly rattling off one-liner after one-liner. Dearden and Ophelia really shone brightest when things got emotional, and we saw under Ophelia’s hard exterior and learned more about her true self. I don’t think I’ll ever stop being angry at MTV for taking this gem of a show away from us so soon, and I’ll never stop wondering what could’ve been had we been allowed more time with Jules and Ophelia.
Aurora Luft – X Company
CBC’s WWII drama about Allied spies was one show that I found to be absolutely perfect from week to week. X Company, which ended this year after three seasons, seemed to have it all: excellent writing, beautiful direction and heartbreaking performances. Perhaps the best performance came in the form of Evelyne Brochu’s Aurora, a French-Canadian/Jewish/German undercover specialist, and the only woman on a team of five spies. Aurora was the team leader who often used being a woman to get her into places and situations where men could not. She was brave and never backed down from a fight, but was also no stranger to sacrificing for the greater good. Brochu brought an elegant delicacy to Aurora that we’re not used to seeing in feminist icons on screen. She was inspiring and especially empowering, especially as X Company and its theme of resistance feels more relevant than ever these days.
Lena Luthor – Supergirl
Since Lena Luthor arrived on the Supergirl scene, there have been questions about her motives and allegiance, but we’ve never doubted the L Corp CEO. With Katie McGrath becoming a series regular in Season 3, Lena has gotten more screen time as she has become more entrenched in the group thanks to her friendships with Kara and Sam, something that’s made Lena fans like us very happy. McGrath brings a beauty and swagger to the youngest Luthor that makes you sit up and take notice the minute she enters a room. Lena loves any opportunity that allows her to smash the patriarchy, and with her beauty and brains she makes for quite a threat. It remains to be seen which side she’ll end up on, but Lena Luthor has proved on more than one occasion that she’s more than just her last name.
Anne Carlson – Workin’ Moms
While there’s so much to love about Catherine Reitman’s Workin Moms, one character in particular routinely stood out and had me eagerly awaiting her appearance on my screen each week. Anne Carlson, the sarcastic, sometimes gruff therapist who always tells it like it is, was brought to life by the brilliant Dani Kind. Kind is a master of the deadpan delivery and Anne always had some of my favorite lines. Whether she was facing off against her Mommy and Me “frenemy” Alicia, or dealing with the latest drama from her oldest daughter, Anne always left me smiling. However, it was during the last few episodes of Workin’ Moms first season where Kind was at her best. Anne’s late season struggles over yet another pregnancy really allowed Kind to show that while Anne may be tough on the outside, she has a true vulnerability and heart that really allows viewers to connect and root for her.
Tilda – Into the Badlands
Into the Badlands was such a delightful surprise of a show. I admit that I dismissed it initially as nothing more than a martial arts drama. However, the AMC series has proved it’s so much more than that! While it does deliver beautifully choreographed fights, it also has one of the most diverse cast of characters on television and puts powerful women front and center time and again. With so many great female characters to choose from it’s hard to pick a favorite, but I find that I have a soft spot for one Butterfly in particular. Tilda (Ally Ioannides) has been taught by her “mother,” The Widow, to be one of the most skilled fighters around. She’s capable and skilled enough to slit your throat before you even have the chance to blink. However, Ioannides and the Into the Badlands writers give a heart and depth to the young warrior that makes viewers fiercely protective of her. The end of season falling out between Tilda and The Widow promises to bring lots of drama for Season 3, and we can’t wait to see Tilda grow and stand up to the woman who raised her. Oh and one more thing, there’s not many weapons cooler than Tilda’s butterfly-shaped throwing stars!
Wynonna Earp – Wynonna Earp
When it comes to a show like Wynonna Earp, it’s so hard to pick just one character to highlight. But as Waverly Earp herself said, Wynonna is the best of them. Wynonna fully accepted her role as the Earp heir in Season 2, as she saw the stakes get even higher and even more personal. Wynonna showrunner Emily Andras decided to integrate Melanie Scrofano’s real life pregnancy into Wynonna’s story, and the show brought to life a pregnant, demon-hunting superhero that helped save 2017 in many ways. Scrofano delivered a powerhouse performance on more than one occasion, but perhaps was at her absolute best moments after Wynonna gave birth. She was completely captivating as she made viewers ache for Wynonna one second, and then moments later be in awe of her strength. Wynonna Earp is never better than when it’s focus is on its leading lady, and Scrofano never fails to deliver the multi-layer, tough yet vulnerable and always snarky hero we adore. With a renewed sense of purpose and urgency, Season 3 of Wynonna Earp could mean even bigger and better things for Wynonna, but regardless, we’ve got no doubt she’s in good hands with Scrofano and Andras.
Alexis Rose – Schitt’s Creek
“Ew, David!” If you’re a Schitt’s Creek fan then those are words of comfort and joy. While Schitt’s is led by comedy legends Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara, it’s the Rose children that have become some of my favorite characters on TV. Each season we’ve seen Annie Murphy’s Alexis grow and become a more well-rounded individual thanks to her time in Schitt’s Creek, but Season 3 was especially strong for the youngest Rose. She went back to high school and Murphy was given some of her best material to date. She really shone as Alexis struggled to fit in and find her place. Murphy has a knack for always being able to bring out and show off Alexis’ heart, even when she’s being the most ridiculous. Also, the sibling relationship and love that exists between Alexis and David is one of the best and funniest relationships on television.
Margo Hanson – The Magicians
For many fans of The Magicians, it was always clear that Margo was a queen. So when she actually became one in Season 2, it felt oh so right. She may be outspoken and harsh at times, but Summer Bishil instills such heart and loyalty in her that at the end of the day it’s hard to not love Margo and want her on your side. Margo and Eliot (Hale Appleman) make one of our favorite on screen duos and have become the go to scene-stealers of The Magicians. Margo may have started out as one of the funniest side characters of the group, but Season 2 saw her really come into her own as the character was fully fleshed out. Season 2 taught us some important lessons about Margo: never take her for granted and nobody can deliver a line on The Magicians quite like Bishil.
Petra Solano – Jane the Virgin
The front porch swing of the Villanueva house on Jane the Virgin is one of my happy places. Nothing makes me smile or takes me away for an hour quite the way this CW series can. However, as much as I love the Villanueva women, this year I found myself particularly enjoying Petra. While she initially seemed like an adversary to Jane (Gina Rodriguez), Yael Grobglas has turned her into one of Jane’s biggest supporters and friends, all while keeping a sharp-tongued, blunt edge to her that I can’t help but adore. As the seasons have gone on, Petra has become sympathetic and started to genuinely care for those around her. She stands up for herself and isn’t afraid to go after what she wants, which means we still respect the heck out of her. It’s a very good skill to have, especially since Petra is still dealing with evil mother Magda and a crazy twin sister!
Maya DiMeo – Speechless
Minnie Driver is one of those actresses that’s a pure gift any time she’s on my television screen. I still long for About a Boy, but having Driver back on TV with Speechless has helped take some of that pain away. As head of the DiMeo clan, Driver’s Maya is fiercely protective and proud of all three of her children, but especially springs into action when defending wheelchair-bound son J.J. She can be a bit of a mess at times, but Driver always gives a heart to Maya that lets you know she’d do anything for her kids. Speechless overall is such a fun, compassionate show that brings joy each week, but Oy! I really do just love having Driver on my TV so much!
Jacqueline Carlyle – The Bold Type
Jacqueline Carlyle is the boss of our dreams! Not only is she super successful and respected, but she supports her employees and sometimes is their biggest cheerleader. She proves over and over that a boss doesn’t have to be a bitch. Melora Hardin plays Jacqueline with the perfect amount of confidence, power, style and grace. She proves that it’s OK to be sensitive and in tune with your employees wants and needs, and that being emotional doesn’t mean you’re being unprofessional. Jacqueline has risen and taken that elevator to the top, but she doesn’t forget to send it back down and help raise the next generation of powerful women. Here’s hoping all of us can be so lucky to have a Jacqueline supporting us at some point during our careers!
Tig – One Mississippi
It is easy to miss a show like One Mississippi, but I quickly devoured the six-episode second season almost the minute it dropped on Amazon. Loosely based on creator and star Tig Notaro’s life, the show managed to sensitively portray childhood sexual abuse and harassment in the workplace, all while delivering one of the most feel good shows on TV this year. Tig, who moves back home to Mississippi and starts a radio show, was at the center of it all. She’s always cool and calm in every situation, but also really funny and witty. Watching her find love in Season 2 was one of the most romantic stories of the year, and it’s downright impossible not to root for Tig and everyone involved on One Mississippi.
John Jaqobis – Killjoys
On the surface, Killjoys is a slick sci-fi show about space bounty hunters, but viewers know that at the core, its heart lies in its characters. It’s hard to find a better hero to root for than Dutch (Hannah John Kamen), but year after year I find myself coming back for Aaron Ashmore’s John Jaqobis. John had some growing to do and adjustments to be made this season, having to move on from Pawter and then deal with new faces such as Zeph (Kelly McCormick) joining the team. Throughout it all, he remained Dutch’s rock, as the pair continued to be one of the best friendships on TV (Bless you Michelle Lovretta for keeping them JUST friends!). Ashmore does a great job of making John the guy everybody loves and can always count on, but also reveals the pain and hurt that sometimes John is dealing with just under the surface. I’m thankful Killjoys has been renewed for many reasons, but one of them certainly is so that I get more John Jaqobis in my life.
Sara Lance – DC’s Legends of Tomorrow
Catching up with DC’s Legends of Tomorrow came at the perfect time for me. While I had thought I had my fill of superhero related shows, the CW series has proved to be just the light-hearted, don’t take yourself too seriously, zany fun show that I needed. To top it all off, the leader of Legends of Tomorrow’s crazy band of misfits is the totally kickass and awesome Captain Sara Lance, aka another great female heroine for me to love and adore! Sara is a skilled fighter with some of the best moves out there, thanks in part to Caity Lotz’s real-life almost superhero level skills, and she uses them to never back down from a fight. However, underneath all those amazing fighting skills, Sara has a heart and warmth to her that make her feel human and relatable. She’s easy to root for and someone we’d want leading our team any day of the week!
Sam Fox – Better Things
I was finally able to catch up with Better Things this year, and I’m so happy that I did. Pamela Adlon not only directed every episode this season, but she stars as Sam, the overworked single mother trying to balance demands of her career and also raise three girls with very different personalities. Adlon is deftly skilled at making Sam jump between landing sarcastic jokes one minute, to being emotionally exhausted and over it all the next. She makes Sam feel real, relatable and like someone we all know. Sam’s life can be messy, dirty and uncertain, but she knows that’s OK and she’ll work through it somehow. That’s one of the best things about Sam you see, she never stops trying and I love her for that.
Veronica Vale – Barbelle
Admittedly, Barbelle caught me a bit by surprise. I was not prepared to love the KindaTV web series about girlfriends and bandmates in Toronto who break up, and then must fake their relationship to their adoring fans as much as I did. Maybe it was the catchy pop tunes that got immediately stuck in my head, but I adored the series and quickly devoured Barbelle’s 10 episodes. Undoubtedly though, one of the biggest reasons why I fell for Barbelle was Karen Knox’s Veronica Vale. On the surface, Veronica is a self-obsessed diva who only cares about herself and can’t see the pain she’s caused bandmate/ex-girlfriend Alice (Gwenlyn Cumyn). But Knox added so many more layers to her than that, and while Knox has great comedic timing and can rock out on those Barbelle tunes, she made Veronica the most enjoyable by revealing the aching heart that lies underneath it all. Plain and simple, Knox made Veronica impossible for viewers, and Alice, not to fall completely in love with. I’m already eagerly awaiting Season 2 to see what Veronica does next!
Midge – The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Set in New York City in the 1950s, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel follows aspiring stand-up comic Midge (Rachel Brosnahan), who unites over a love of comedy and dreams of success with her manager Susie (Alex Borstein). From Gilmore Girls creator Amy Sherman-Palladino, Midge and Susie were prone to much of the signature fast-talking that went on between Lorelei and Rory, but Brosnahan made Midge and Mrs. Maisel feel like something entirely different. Not only that, but after her husband leaves her for his younger secretary, Midge decides to not only do what he was doing (comedy), but do it way better than he ever could, meaning she got the ultimate revenge. Midge was raised to always be the nice Jewish girl, but thankfully, quickly realized that her wit, smile and talent are something that should be shared with us all. Mrs. Maisel proves time and again how great it can be when a woman unleashes her full potential in a way no one saw coming.
Janet – The Good Place
Make no mistake, D’Arcy Carden’s personal assistant to those in The Good Place isn’t any regular ol’ Siri or Alexa. In Season 2 of the NBC comedy, Janet has proved to be more than a robot with a cheery personality, especially as she experienced a glitch that caused her to feel deeply for Jason. We are so used to seeing Janet deliver even the most unpleasant of facts in a chipper tone, that it was quite jarring to see her become self aware enough to realize the problems her glitch can cause. She may have created and then discarded her rebound guy, Derek, but the process brought Janet that much closer to being human. Throughout our time in The Good Place, one thing has become increasingly clear: there’s no way to do without Janet in our lives.
Captain Raymond Holt – Brooklyn 99
A show like Brooklyn 99 is made up by so many enjoyable and diverse characters, but leading the squad and always standing out to me is Captain Raymond Holt. Andre Braugher’s captain has no time for any of your crap and while he rarely cracks a smile, I find myself with a huge grin any time he’s on screen. Braugher’s deadpan delivery is unmatched as Holt lays on a thick layer of sarcasm. However, Holt also deeply cares for and looks out for his squad, while subverting stereotypes many gay male characters on television are prone to. He’s nuanced, has depth and has had to work hard to get where he’s at. But really, how can anyone not love a man who has a corgi named Cheddar? Come on!
Who is your most enjoyable TV character to watch? Did I leave out your favorite? Add them and your thoughts to the comments below!
Editor in Chief Bridget Liszewski comes from a long line of TV Junkies who fostered her love of television from a very young age. She's channeled that passion into covering both US and Canadian television shows, and is thankful everyday for the invention of the DVR. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, she loves college football and is a fan of sports in general. Bridget is always up for talking TV and you can follow her on twitter at @BridgetOnTV.