100 Years, 50 Losers: #25 – #21
Posted by Andrew Unterberger on December 11, 2008
Meg Griffin, Family Guy
Voiced By: Mila Kunis
Born to Lose: The thing that’s easy to forget about Meg Griffin is that she didn’t start out as self-parody. Originally, she was just what she was–a boring, stock character that you always dreaded seeing getting prominent minutes on screen. Then, somewhere along the line, a remarkable thing happened–not only did Seth McFarlane and the Family Guy crew realize that nobody liked Meg, they decided to let the rest of the show’s cast voice the audience’s frustrations by deriding her at just about every possible opportunity. At first it started somewhat gentle–the family was completely oblivious to Meg and her problems, but that wasn’t entirely dissimilar to the way Lisa was ignored on The Simpsons. Over the years, though, it just got crueller and crueller, until it wasn’t uncommon to see Peter dunk Meg’s head in her cereal bowl for no apparent reason, at which point Meg no longer got any plots of her own that weren’t explicitly about how much everyone hated her. Unsurprisingly, the schtick wore thin fairly quickly, but for a while, it was legitimately refreshing to see a show that echoed its fans’ sentiments so honestly.
Real-Life Retribution: Well, Meg happens to be voiced by this person:
Jess Mariano, Gilmore Girls
Played By: Milo Ventimiglia
Born to Lose: Jess was that all-too-rare breed of teenage TV character–the loser heartthrob. And I don’t mean an accidental heartthrob the way our next entry ended up being–I mean a genuinely brooding, absolutley gorgeous heartbreaker. Rory was set up with All-American Good Guy Dean for much of the show’s early run, but when class-cutting, family-abandoned Jess was introduced, it was only a matter of time–he was kind of a jerk, sure, but he was tempestuous, he was well-read, he wore a leather jacket and will you look at those eyes. Rory couldn’t resist herself, and eventually broke it off with Dean to be with him. Yes, Jess did us all proud–for a little while, at least. Eventually Jess took his bad boy image a little too much to heart, and believed himself too Wanted Dead or Alive to enjoy a nice, quiet relationship with the similarly fetching Rory in small town Stars Hollow. His jealousy gets the best of him, he flunks his senior year, he splits for California, and Rory loses her virginity to a now-married Dean a year or two later. Hayden Panettiere’s not a bad silver medal, but I always wished that Jess could’ve worked it out with Rory somehow.
What Could Have Been: Jess’s trip to Cali was supposed to serve as a backdoor pilot for Windward Circle, his own spin-off. Love you always, Jess, but I’m not so sure you really needed a Private Practice.
Seth Cohen, The O.C.
Played By: Adam Brody
Born to Lose: It’s hard to get in touch with that part of myself that was so ridiculously wowed by Brody upon first viewing The O.C. in that magical summer of 2003. Not only did his performance become so ingrained in our pop culture that we began to take him for granted, but he got pretty grating pretty quickly–like the rest of the show, two seasons was about all he had in the tank. But it’s also important to remember that when The O.C. started, no one could’ve guessed that show creator Josh Schwartz had a hidden agenda to make the show a perpetual shill for indie culture–we thought it was just going to be a ridiculous, sensationalized teen drama like we’d seen dozens of times before. And from the first episode at least, that’s exactly what it was–the parties, the fights, the rampant drinking and drug use, and the horrific romantic sub-plots all made it look like the show was shooting for 90211 status. Except for Seth. He didn’t look like the rest of the cast, he didn’t act like the rest of the cast, and he talked absolutely nothing like the rest of the cast–he seemed like he had wandered in from the cast of a Judd Apatow show. Before all the comic book references, before the indie band namedrops, he was the reason viewers like me stuck around the show–he promised that there was something more from it still to come. And for at least two glorious, glorious seasons, he–and the show–did not disappoint.
Personal Loser Bond:Call it fate if you’d like, but when I had to make up a fake name for myself when I was in middle school–a good three or four years before the genesis of The O.C.–I would use Seth Cohen. Dunno, always liked that name.
Ziggy Sobotka, The Wire
Played By: James Ransone
Born to Lose: Oh, Ziggy–will you ever win? Season two of The Wire was by far the most polarizing of the show’s seasons, but chances are, if you were pro, a lot of it had to do with Ziggy, one of the most loveably despicable losers in TV history. From the moment the shrill-voiced, mousy-looking Ziggy first whipped his dick out in the season premiere, you knew things were not going to end well with the ne’er do well, who was perpetually getting in over his head with crimes he wasn’t clever enough to pull off, money he wasn’t smart enough to handle, and dudes he wasn’t nearly bad enough to keep up with. Still, loud and obnoxious as he was, you still had to feel for the guy–he was so perpetually out-classed at every turn in his day-to-day life that it was nearly impossible to begrudge him his overambitious nature. And at the very least, he possessed an enviable sort of joie de vivre that came a short way to justifying his life of impulsive decisions and poor foresight. My all-time favorite Ziggy quote came from “All Prologue,” when, rich from a recent score, he’s buying everyone at the bar drinks and lighting cigarettes with $20 bills. Upon criticism from his more responsible cousin Nicky, he responds “When I’m flush, I’m flush. We ain’t gonna live forever, right?”
Ultimate Low Point: Almost impossible to choose for a man with as many low points as Zig, but it’s still gotta be the duck. Some heartbreaking shit right there.
Lindsay/Nelly Bluth Funke, Arrested Development
Played By: Portia de Rossi
Born to Lose: Stick a wrench in her, she’s done. Credit the Arrested Development for not falling into the trap of making Lindsay your typical dumb hot chick who gets by on her ability to seduce rich, successful men–instead, Lindsay’s your typical dumb hot chick with no perceivable abilities whatsoever beyond basic self-preservation. A spoiled rich girl with Daddy issues, Lindsay had the bad luck of marrying a similarly useless (and most likely homosexual) theater wannabe, and has no choice but to stick around her dysfunctional family in the hopes that someone will take pity on her and let her steal the company credit card. And as with Sweet Dee on Sunny (who, as many have noted, looks and acts like a strung-out version of Lindsay), she isn’t any more moral or sympathetic than any of her male counterparts–she’s just a loser, like the rest of ’em. And so she gets as much shit as the rest of ’em, including a final run in the show’s third season that ends with her finding out she was adopted, unsuccessfully hitting on her brother (and being unsuccessfully hit on by her other brother), and eventually getting sold by her mother to her birth father.
All’s Well That Ends Well: Somewhat ironically, Portia herself came out of the closet around the end of the show’s run, and is currently married to the world’s most popular lesbian, Ellen DeGeneres. Meanwhile, David Cross is supposedly dating one of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, amazingly enough.