GDB Essentials: 100 Years, 50 Losers
Posted by Andrew Unterberger on November 21, 2008
You call THAT a list?
Things have been slow around here lately, I know. My creative energies are being sapped by a new job and another blog, no doubt, but I’ve also just been sort of short on inspiration in general lately. However, there is one thing that never fails to inspire me, and that is the long-form list format. And this–the top 50 loser characters of all-time–is one I’ve been planning for about as long as I remembered. As a card-carrying loser myself, this is obviously a subject very near and dear to my heart, as these are the characters I’ve looked up to over the course of my TV-watching life, measured myself against loser-wise, and found solace with when my loserdom occasionally got me down. I just wanted to make sure I could come up with 50 concrete entries before I actually set out to write it, to properly give the subject the treatment it deserves. But now I think I’ve come up with a good bunch, and it seems like as good a time as any to start unveiling it.
What makes for a loser, you might ask? Well, as with a villain, there is no concrete definition. Generally speaking, though, they are a character whose station in life would be perceived in common wisdom to be lacking or unsatisfactory, either due to lack of professional success, personal success, or success in the achieving of other desired goals. Perennially single, often unemployed, disrespected by their peers, domineered by their betters, always a step behind in their main objective and outpaced by the competition–these are all fairly telltale signs of loserdom. Unsurprisingly, many of these characters are unhappy, frustrated and/or anger-filled individuals. However, the loser appelation need not always be seen as a negative, as several of these characters have found comfort in their life’s status, learned to work within their limitations, and made the wise decision to not question why or ask for more.
As for the more precise qualifications, I generally tried to stay away from show protagonists, so while Adrian Monk or Lindsay Weir may have compelling loser credentials, we see a little too much of their worlds for such a branding. Also, while characters need not either revel or despair in their loserdom, they need to at least be slightly aware of it, so completely oblivious characters like Leopold “Butters” Stotch would be disqualified as well. For the interest of diversity, I put the limit of losers per show at two, though a remarkable few could have fielded at least four or five worthy Top 50ers. And generally speaking, it has to be a show I know pretty well to make the list, so a lot of 70s and 80s sitcom characters will be MIA, and the list will probably have a fairly disproportionate amount of cartoon characters–kiddie, adult and in-betweeners.
Unfortunately, my list is also extremely heavily skewed towards the male. I attribute this to several things–first and foremost, to the fact that before Square Pegs, I’m not even sure if TV realized that girls had the capability to be losers, and then after that continued to rend them an extremely under-represented minority group. Second, I think girls are held to a different standard for loserdom than guys are, since the primary exit from loser status is usually sexual prowess, which it seems most girls are assumed to at least possess in some capacity by mere virtue of having tits. Thirdly, as a male loser myself, I can’t help but tend to identify the obvious qualities in other males, likely easier than I would in a female loser. Ladies, feel free to holler if you hear me and let me know where I’m missing out when it’s all over. I’ve at least included a couple from your ranks than can certainly hang with my guys any day.
Five a day, starting tomorrow and continuing sporadically. Prepare to get crazy with the cheese whiz.
(Next: #50 – #46)