The AfterEllen.com Huddle: Unlikable Characters

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There’s been a debate over “likable” characters in fiction in recent years, and most of them seem to center on women. It seems that there is the concern that female characters must be likable or else no one will want to watch them or read about them. However, that’s bullshit. Women are just as flawed as men, and no one wants to read or watch perfect people. It gives us probably as many feelings to loathe someone as it does to like them, which is good news for the creatives behind them all.

So, group: What’s your favorite unlikable character?

Dana Piccoli: I think it is pretty obvious from my Grey’s Anatomy recaps that I developed a soft spot for Leah Murphy, who many refer to as “Worst Intern.” Tensions and emotions were running high last season with Calzona being on the outs, and Leah was often portrayed as someone who pulled the couple even further apart. However, I saw a lot of great qualities on this polarizing character. Sure, she was kind of terrible sometimes, but she was also brave and tenderhearted too. She walked off into the Parking Lot of No Return last season, but I will miss seeing her face around the halls.

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Elaine Atwell: Faith is and will always be my favorite character on Buffy. Even when she was serving the evil mayor, or stealing Buffy’s body, or using Xander for sex and discarding him (ESPECIALLY when she was doing that) she operated from a place of intense pain and loneliness. And what can I say; I like ’em tortured. Plus, total babe, definitely queer.

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Bridget McManus:¬†While I love to hate Kenny Powers from Eastbound and Down, I’m going with Heather Locklear in Melrose Place. She was a great villain and, damn, she looked good in a power suit.

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Heather Hogan: I can think of plenty of villains that I love and plenty of characters that are meant to be adored that I loathe, but thinking of characters that are actually written to be unlikable is hard! Probably it’s a toss-up between Pete Campbell and Betty Draper/Francis, both of whom are just the absolute worst, but I can’t help delighting in their awfulness. I wish I could watch a supercut of all their best dick moves. Betty telling Sally she smells like a baby prostitute. Betty telling Bobby to bang his head against the wall. Betty hardcore flirting with a 12-year-old boy because Don is a cheaterpants sex addict. I don’t even have time to start listing Pete’s every day bullshit, except: “NOT GREAT, BOB.” I love those two. I hope Pete doesn’t end up accidentally shooting himself with that chip-and-dip shotgun before Mad Men bids us its final adieu.

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Chloe: I’m a sucker for bad bitches in any and all forms.There are so many I can barely deal. Anne Boylen (especially on The Tudors, played by always fascinating Natalie Dormer) and Blair Waldorf are tied for all time OG bad bitch. Betty Draper is actually my favorite character on Mad Men. For all her spite and casual cruelty, I think Betty is a casualty of the times and incapable of expressing herself genuinely because she’s never really been allowed to. She’s so damn miserable and has no idea why and no one willing or able to understand. Like Julianne Moore‘s character in The Hours or even the heroine of The Awakening, Betty Draper makes me wonder what I might have been like trapped in the wrong time.

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Lucy Hallowell: This is probably because I got to hear Sarah Waters speak last night (have I mentioned that 100 times yet?) but absolutely every person in Fingersmith is THE WORST at one point or another and, yet, it’s impossible not to find yourself rooting for and against every single character at some point in the book. Sue and Maud are fucking each other over left, right, and center and you know it! But you can’t help but kind of love them anyway, those horrible little shits.

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Grace Chu: All of the Stormtroopers. While they were written to be ground troops for the evil Galactic Empire, they just looked goofy. My only concern was that there were no female Stormtroopers. Either that or their uniforms weren’t fitted correctly so the female Stormtroopers looked indistinguishable from their male counterparts, which is unacceptable because I am sure the Empire can afford tailors. I am still waiting for a female Stormtrooper Halloween costume to come out.

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