100 Years, 50 Losers: #20 – #16
Posted by Andrew Unterberger on December 15, 2008
Bill Fontaine De la Tour Dauterive, King of the Hill
Voiced By: Stephen Root
Born to Lose: Poor, poor Bill. Quite possibly the most underrated character on King of the Hill, lacking the gimmickry of Boomhauer or the non-stop yuks of Dale, Bill was the quiet conscience of the show, a guy who had suffered so much in his recent life that he knew he was in no place to judge just about anyone for anything. In a more practical sense, Bill also served as the doormat for the show’s other characters, who clearly sympathize with their friend and neighbor’s plight–a deadly combination of post-divorce loneliness, faded-glory High School nostalgia and professional dissatisfaction–but have long since lost interest in humoring his self-pity. Consequently, Bill is possibly the most visibly downtrodden character in recent television–the kind of character that becomes even more depressing when he smiles because it provides such a stark contrast to the norm. Bill is the ex-Texas football star you never seem to see in Varsity Blues and its ilk–the guy who’s been beaten down by his underwhelming adult life, but rather than become embittered by it, just closes his blinds at night and sobs to himself. Heartbreakingly hilarious stuff.
Moment of Triumph: Surprisingly, Bill does have a couple to choose from, but I’d have to go with one of my favorite episodes, where he rejoins the Arlen football team on an eligibility technicality to re-tie his unfairly broken touchdown record as the Bill-dozer’s finest moment.
Murray Hewitt, Flight of the Conchords
Played By: Rhys Darby
Born to Lose: Murray is something of a precednet-setter in the loser community: A successful 9 to 5er whose secret passion–nay, secret identity–is as a loser. You never see particularly much of what Murray does in his position as Deputy Cultural Attache at the New Zealand consulate, but you get the feeling that he’s probably pretty good at what he does, and that he’s probably well-compensated for it, too. Despite this, somewhere along the line, he decided to start moonlighting as the manager of Kiwi-country’s fourth most popular folk parody duo–despite the fact that the band is monstrously unsuccessful, he has no visible talent as a promoter or manager, and he doesn’t even appear to understand or like music. Since then, he’s lost his wife, with all attempts at reconciliation ruined by his self-imposed obligations to the band, and all he appears to do at work is hawk the latest Flight of the Conchords merchandise. It’s a compelling, and arguably far more pragmatic, inversion of the cliche of the importance of following your dreams, since Murray’s pathetic attempts to live the Rock and Roll Lifestyle just get in the way of what should probably be a fairly rewarding existence and steers him directly down the unmistakable path of unglamorous loserdom.
Breaking the Cycle: Murray’s ambitions do, against all odds, eventually come to fruition, due to the enormous crossover success of fellow clients The Crazy Dogggz’s smash “The Doggy Bounce,” after which it is implied that Murray abandons the band and rides the Dogggz’s coattails to fame and fortune, thus making a second season of the show a remarkably tricky prospect.
Frank Rossitano, 30 Rock
Played By: Judah Frieldnader
Born to Lose: Fat, crude, and with no evident social life to speak of, Frank nevertheless represents the very personification of what could be called the Loser Id. Many may choose to view the loser lifestyle as one that is foisted upon its constituents as opposed to being lived by choice, and while that is probably the case more often than not, such a viewpoint negates the heavy upside of a lack of lasting relaitonships or personal ambition. Basically, a true loser has very little left to lose, so their actions are largely devoid of consequence. Thusly, Frank says what he wants, dresses like he wants, wears ironic hats and watches TV marathons of whatever he wants, and worries little about the effects of doing so. Even better, he manages to do this all while being respectfully employed, as his enviable position as a TGS with Tracy Jordan staff writer is largely dependent on his caustic and borderline-narcissistic sense of self. He might not get laid much, he may not be invited to many Bar Mitzvahs, and he may not see a second’s worth of daylight more than absolutely necessary, but he is happy and secure in his own skin. And for that, Frank Rossitano is an inspiration.
Classic Loser Moment: When a fully-bearded, haggard-looking Frank emerges from three months straight of playing Tracy’s new porn video game (Goregasm) and mistakenly claims that he played it for an hour and it was OK.
Andy Botwin, Weeds
Played By: Justin Kirk
Born to Lose: Andy is something close to the Siddhartha of losers, attempting a wide and impressive array of shady and unsuccessful career paths over the course of his four seasons thusfar on Weeds. He’s been a drug dealer (obviously), a porn star, a disgraced soldier, an immigrant coyote and just an all-around layabout so far, all with a cynically jovial gusto that no other character currently brings to TV. He doesn’t quite have the loser joie de vivre of Frank, but he appears to have reached an understanding of sorts with the world–he knows he will likely never be one of its chosen sons, and that’s cool with him, as long as he can still smoke all day, avoid any sort of manual labor and occasionally get to fuck hot Israeli chicks. But unlike Frank’s wholly self-centered existence, Andy does take great satisfaction in acting as an extremely warped father figure to Shane and Silas, his dead brother’s kids, giving them advice like “It took me years to realize that slightly deformed chicks were the way to go. I dated this one girl with a midget arm…amazing in the sack! Plus, when she held my dick in her hand, it looked huge.”
Partner in Loserdom: Kat Wheeler, Andy’s nutty free-spirit of an ex-girlfriend, played by Zooey Deschanel. Hanging around at the end of season two and beginning of season three, she pisses off and then hooks up with Andy a couple times, then flies the coop with Shane in tow, eventually letting abandoning him at a rest stop with the immortal words: “We’ll meet again. I’ll be older, but I’ll still be hot. And you’ll be older and you’ll still be the same smart, wise, gentle soul you are now, but you’ll be taller. And I think that you’re gonna do some really interesting things with your facial hair. I just see it. Okay Sweetie? Heart hug, heart hug. ”
Carl Brutanananadilewski, Aqua Teen Hunger Force
Voiced By: Dave Willis
Born to Lose: Carl is the Adult Swim version of Bill Dauterive–similarly besot by weight gain, baldness and a nasty predilection towards living in the past, but also far more vile, mean-spirited and un-self-conscious (and with a far bigger appreciation for late-70s arena rock). Carl’s a loser by nature, sure, marginally employed, semingly friendless, and often admitting to a lifetime devoid of consensual sex where money was not involved. But it also runs deeper than that, as life in general goes out of its way to force losing on him at every possible opportunity–in nearly every episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Carl has his house burned down, car destroyed, TV possessed, or is just straight up killed as a result of the Aqua Teens’ shenanigans. Sometimes he gets mad about it, but as the series progresses, he takes his enforced misery more and more in stride (or at the very least, no longer seems surprised by it). Whenever some smart kid gets pushed around by bullies in middle school, and he tells himself “that’s all right, in ten years I’ll be working for Microsoft while that asshole is too pereptually fucked-up to even hold a job pumping gas,” Carl is the kind of loser that he’s hoping he’ll turn into. Except without the perpetual death, maybe.
Classic Loser Quote: Carl, while drunk dialing girls from his old High School yearbook: “Normally I wouldn’t do a fat chick from the flag corps, but, uh…IT IS A NEW ERA!! Of lonelines…”