100 Years, 50 Losers: #40 – #36
Posted by Andrew Unterberger on December 1, 2008
(Apologies for the near week-long sabbatical, suffice to say, various familial, economical and stuffing-related pursuits had to temporarily take precedence. Will not happen again in the immediate future.)
Played By: Jesse Plemons
Born to Lose: Further proof of Friday Night Lights‘ peerless abilities to make horrific cliches not only bearable but suspiciously compelling, Landry started out the show’s run as little more than the Horny Best Friend to the show’s moral center, Matt Saracen, and has ended up as one of the program’s core characters. Landry currently represents the show’s push and pull between wanting to be an accurate portrayal of teen existence and wanting to be a top-shelf Teen Drama; consequently, he somehow made the football team, but without making enough of an impression to get the coach to remember his name, and he somehow got school femme fatale Tyra Colette to fall in love with him, but eventually lost her to a French-speaking rodeo cowboy. But at the very least, Landry is not one of those Teen Drama loser characters where TV execs slap a pair of glasses and a shallow love of comic books on an otherwise normal person and expect audiences to understand; he looks like a loser, talks like a loser, has loser interests and, most importantly, loser charms. We could be doing a lot worse than to have him currently repping our ranks amongst the young’ns.
Partner in Loserdom: For a while in the show’s second season, the producers flirted with the idea of giving Landry a female equivalent as competition for Tyra. Jean was a cute, zombie movie-loving metalhead pixie accurately described by Matt as “God’s little gift to Landry.” As with Anna on The O.C., however, producers wisely concluded that one Landry was plenty, and Tyra and Landry were quickly reuinted. Jean has not returned since.
Played By: Sam Lloyd
Born to Lose: Aside from being gainfully employed in something close to a respectable profession, Ted pretty much represents the Loser Worst Case Scenario. Middle-aged, bald, completely lacking ambition or self-confidence, divorced, still living with (and apparently sleeping in the same bed as) his mother, overworked and underappreciated. Such is the patheticness of Ted’s existence that he is shown contemplating suicide remarkably often for a show like Scrubs, he is usually either temporarily dissuaded or simply distracted before being able to follow through. His life is not completely without joy, as his a capella group and Air Band are shown to be sources of pride for Ted, as well as the one or two times a season he decides to stand up to Kelso, feels great, and immediately reverts to stoogedom aftewards. Still, were this list simply a measure of loserdom magnitude–or maybe if his character was a little less repetitive–Ted would be a certain top fiver.
Moment of Triumph: Making out with Danni (Tara Reid) at Turk and Carla’s not-wedding, and/or granting a sick patient’s with of hearing his favorite song once more by performing an a capella duet of Poison’s “Talk Dirty to Me” with not-so-secret love Carla.
Played By: Ron Howard
Born to Lose: In retrospect, Happy Days was kind of ahead of its time in its representation of loserdom–a group of friends in which only one really appeared to have any notable success with the opposite sex, and seemingly refused to share his particularly egregious wealth. Even amidst the only semi-lovable goons he hung out with, though, Richie had to stand out as the short stack of the bunch, due to his goody-goody nature, sickly gait and quintessentially red hair. It’s hard to say whether gingerdom is an inextricable point towards loserdom, since off the top of my head, I can’t even think of any other TV shows brave enough to put one out there in any sort of prominence, much less as the show’s protagonist (an honor even referenced in one of the last funny South Park episodes). But who’s to say? Maybe a little dye job and some of the disturbingly large percentage of the female population of Kenoshia that the Fonz had tagged could’ve trickled down to him. He certainly wasn’t particularly discerning.
Breaking the Cycle: Apparently Richie goes on to find love at college, has a son with her (while she visits him at his army base in Greenland?), and eventually moves to Hollywood to become a screenwriter. There’s probably a reason they didn’t show any of these eps on Nick at Nite re-runs.
Played By: Jeff Daniel Philips and Ben Weber
Born to Lose: By almost any standards, the GEICO Cavemen are successes. They dress well, eat well, dance well, play tennis well, and keep company with attractive females. However, their status will always be held in check because of what they are: pawns in the game of a particularly cruel insurance company that appears hell bent on belittling them and haunting their existence at every possible turn. Consequently, they are unable to enjoy their success–hounded at basketball games, mocked in political debates, forced to question their identity at all times–frankly, it’s no surprise that they ended up in therapy. Perhaps if their TV show had run on a little longer, they could’ve exorcized some of their demons, or at least gotten out from the oppressive GEICO thumb. As is, the best they can do is take solace in the fact that they still have a higher station in life than that idiot explorer dude from the Gekko ads.
Unlikely Loser Branding: I can’t help but wonder what effect, if any, these commercials have had on the popularity of Roast Duck with Mango Salsa throughout the known universe of fancy restaurants.
Voiced By: Peter MacNicol (Really? I had no idea)
Born to Lose: “I’m trying to kill him, and he doesn’t even know I exist!” All comic supervillians are pretty losery to begin with–by definition, really, since they tend to lose to the superhero 99% of the time, but also because they tend to be obsessive, nerdy loners, occasionally with extreme wealth but usually without much of a social life. X took this predilection to its logical extreme, as his relationship with arch-enemy Harvey Birdman is more that of a creepy stalker and his unreciprocating stalkee than of any legitimate rivalry, and his duels with Birdman not only rarely result in victory, they rarely result in anyone even noticing that they’re happening. Unsurprisingly, X’s home life is shown to be uninspiring at best, and even his sole goal in life–to procure the crest of Birdman’s helmet, possibly by killing him–is largely purposeless, since no one, including Harvey, seems to know if Birdman’s crest actually does anything. One of the great underrated Adult Swim characters.
Damned With Faint Wikipedia Description: “X sometimes arrives at Harvey’s office to destroy him, he tends to be thwarted by inattentive office personnel.”