10 Best New TV Characters Of 2018


The television landscape continues to evolve, but the one thing that hasn’t changed is the vast array of wonderful characters that make up our favourite shows. Let’s face it: a TV series is nothing without its colourful cohort of mainstays and, in order to enjoy the narrative of the show, we have to be able to experience it through their very eyes.

For television to be compelling, we need to be able to feel everything that the central characters feel, and understand their state of mind when they’re forced into making devastating decisions. Great characters rely on two things: strong writing, and a believable performance by the actor playing them. More often than not, the two go hand-in-hand with one another.

This year has been one of television’s strongest. We’ve seen brand new series that have blown our minds, and we’ve also seen plenty of fan-favourites return to our screens for another outing. The one thing that many of these shows have in common, however, is that they’re full of great characters. So let’s take a look at some of this year’s finest.

10. Barry – Barry


Barry has been one of TV’s most enjoyable comedies this year, and this is largely due to the show’s genius balance of comedy and drama – specifically in regards to the title character. Barry is conflicted to say the least, and actor Bill Hader conveys this really well throughout the season.

It’s often hard to dramatise internal conflict in a comedy series, because the writers run the risk of turning their series into a fully-blown drama, but somehow Barry has accomplished this incredibly well.

We can sense our protagonist’s desire to break free from his old life as a hitman and pursue his dream of becoming an actor. However, getting evolved with Noho Hank has made it incredibly hard for him to do so. The strong characterisation of the Barry character has made his predicament believable – in spite of the sensationalist dilemma. It’ll be incredibly exciting to see what our unlucky protagonist will get up to in the second season of the HBO series.

9. Braniac 5 – Supergirl

The CW

Showing up on Supergirl’s midseason premiere, Brainiac 5 was the Legion of Super-Heroes’ quirky but effective AI. A twelfth-level intellect, he was always on hand to provide the team with expert advice whenever necessary, proving his worth to the show’s main team of Supergirl and the DEO.

Although Brainy wasn’t just all knowledge, as he provided us with some of the season’s most humorus moments. His calm approach and deadpan delivery of certain lines made him one of the season’s most enjoyable aspects. Moreover, his obliviousness to human sentiment and behaviour made for some hilarious moments between him and Winn. Actor Jesse Rath portrayed the mannerisms with perfection and ended up stealing quite a few scenes throughout the season.

As he was a recurring character, we never really had the opportunity to find out much about him. Thankfully, we may get the chance to know Brainy better later this year as Rath has been promoted to a series regular next season.

8. Eden – The Handmaid’s Tale


The Handmaid’s Tale changed things up during the second season when Commander Waterford introduced Nick to his soon-to-be wife, Eden. Viewers immediately took a dislike to the character, because her presence was yet another reason why June and Nick couldn’t be together.

The excellent writing fooled us all into thinking the 15-year-old girl was going to be a threat to our protagonist, but this was not the case at all. Underneath the facade of the well-behaved Gilead servant was a scared little girl, who wanted nothing more than to fall in love and live in peace and harmony.

By the end of the season, Eden had us all rooting for her, as she proved herself to be a strong warrior – unwilling to let the cruel world of Gilead break her. She is one of this year’s best examples of the benefits of long-form character development. Over the course of the season, viewers altered their opinions and fell in love with Eden, which is what ultimately made her demise so heart-breaking.

7. Marie L’Angelle – Preacher


The sadistic Marie L’Angelle has been mentioned before on Preacher, but viewers had not been afforded the opportunity to see her in the flesh until now. After all the heinous things we had learned about her, fans had severely high expectations.

Considering the show’s protagonist Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper) has made it clear that his granny is the main reason he’s so damaged, it was important for the AMC series to get this one right. Thankfully, L’Angelle has lived up to her reputation in every way possible, and actress Betty Buckley gives a stunning portrayal of the devilish old lady.

Everything about L’Angelle is as it should be,m and the little character eccentricities only make her more terrifying. From the creepy sound her wheelchair makes as she moves around her old house, to the tone of voice she uses when she’s trying to manipulate Jesse, Buckley has nailed it all. The Preacher showrunners couldn’t have done a better job bringing the comic book character to life. She may look like a sweet old lady, but L’Angelle is a force to be reckoned with, and she’s going to be thorn in Jesse’s side for a while longer.

6. Blanca – Pose


Pose was one of this year’s most talked-about shows, and it’s easy to see why. The Ryan Murphy-produced drama focused on the transgender community in New York during the 1980s and features transgender actors in the starring roles. While all of the characters are larger than life, it’s leading lady Blanca that we connect the most with.

The young woman’s tragic backstory is ultimately the driving force behind the FX series. She becomes mother to Damon, Ricky and Angel, giving the three runaways the love and support that she was starved of by her own family.

Blanca’s desire to help others is what is at the heart of Pose, and even with the fabulous world of ball-culture to fall back on, the show simply wouldn’t work without this. MJ Rodriguez does a phenomenal job as Blanca, and it’ll be fascinating to see what comes next for the character when Pose returns in 2019.

5. Jeremiah Valeska – Gotham


Cameron Monaghan has been stealing the show on Fox’s Gotham for quite a few years now (ever since he inhabited the role of Jerome Valeska), but the actor faced a new challenge earlier this year when he portrayed Jerome’s pyschotic twin brother, Jeremiah.

As it has been from the beginning, Gotham is playing the long game with its core group of villains, and Jeremiah is ultimately being set up to become the Fox series’ version of The Joker. The new character gave Monaghan a lot to work with, and he was able to showcase his abilities as an actor. While Jeremiah is as villainous as his twin, he’s a different kind of crazy altogether. If we look back at previous Joker iterations, then it’s fair to say that Jerome was reminiscent of Heath Ledger’s screw-loose megalomaniac, whereas Jeremiah is more calm, and clever, resembling Jack Nicholson’s iteration of the villainous character.

While Jerome is still the better of the two characters, it’s going to be interesting to see where Gotham takes Jeremiah in the fifth and final season. Furthermore, Monaghan gave us some of his best work during Season 4, so should the character return in the future, Jeremiah could end up becoming Gotham’s best villain yet.

4. Hannah Stern – The Split


She’s smart, classy and has a mean fashion sense – divorce lawyers don’t come any better than Hannah Stern. The protagonist of BBC’s The Split is everything you could want from a series of this nature, and she fights for her clients with a conviction that would give even the almighty Ally McBeal a run for her money.

But perhaps the thing that made Hannah such a great protagonist is that – in spite of her appearance – she isn’t perfect. Throughout the six-part series, we discover her own marriage is on the rocks which, as you can imagine, is a wonderful source of conflict for a divorce lawyer.

Nicola Walker has proven herself to be one of Britain’s best actresses with her roles in Unforgotten and Last Tango In Halifax, but her nuanced performance as Hannah in The Split is something quite different, and proves to be one of her finest roles yet.

3. Patrick Melrose – Patrick Melrose


Protagonists are usually straight-forward characters with a clear desire and a plan to fulfil it, but not Patrick Melrose. The eponymous character from the Sky Atlantic/Showtime drama is as complex as they come, and Benedict Cumberbatch delivers a career-defining performance.

The five-part series is hard to describe, because its neither comedy nor drama, but falls somewhere in between. The inability to determine to the tone of the show is largely down to Patrick, who’s a heroin addict, trying desperately to forget his troubled past by not only using drugs, but by deflecting people’s questions with his own twisted sense of humour. His eccentric behaviour is unlike anything we’ve seen before, and Cumberbatch’s multilayered performance highlights Patrick’s internal conflict beautifully. Additionally, Sebastian Maltz – who plays a young Patrick – is equally wonderful.

Television has seen some great characters this year, but none are as complex or conflicted as Patrick Melrose. He truly is a revelation.

2. Andrew Cunanan – The Assassination Of Gianni Versace


The Assassination of Gianni Versace was arguably this year’s biggest surprise. It was always going to be tough to top the first season of American Crime Story, but in many ways, the second season ended up being superior.

It was certainly more visually pleasing, that’s for sure, but it was the series’ protagonist that kept us watching throughout, and – despite the show being titled after Versace – the leading character here was serial killer Andrew Cunanan. Humanising a real-life serial killer is a tough thing to do, but Tom Rob Smith’s exceptional scripts somehow managed to do just that.

The story is told in reverse, and during the first instalment, Cunanan is as ruthless as we’d expected him to be. But as the show takes us back through the character’s life, we see first-hand that he wasn’t always the fame hungry serial killer he turned out to be.

Cunanan doesn’t deserve our sympathy, but the strong characterisation made it hard not to feel pity for him in his younger years. Glee’s Darren Criss delivers the performance of his career – and arguably the TV performance of the year – as the conflicted Cunanan, and the young actor is nominated for an Emmy for his performance.

1. Camille Preaker – Sharp Objects


Sharp Objects has been one of this year’s most compelling drama series’, and while much of that is to do with the strong scripts and atmospheric direction, it’s protagonist Camille Preaker that keeps us watching. She’s definitely the most troubled character we’ve seen on our screens this year. Amy Adams’ incredible performance goes hand-in-hand with the genius writing, but it’s the show’s editing that helps in characterising Camille.

The brief glimpses we get of her past leave us with so many questions, and, and as each new episode of the HBO drama unfolds, we’re dying to know more and more about our protagonist and why she’s so troubled.

Upon returning home to Wind Gap, her past comes back to haunt her, and Adams does a fantastic job at portraying Camille’s conflict. Much like Patrick Melrose, Camille has a troubled past, and the character’s history of self-harming is comes to light over the course of the series – and her frosty relationship with mother Adora (Patricia Clarkson) is at the root of all of her problems.

As protagonists go, Camille is one of this year’s strongest.

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