top 10s of 2011: tv supporting actors
Yep, I’m running behind. The Oscars have come and gone, and I’m just getting started on my year-end wrap-up. Oh well – something to keep me entertained through to mid-March, I suspect. Here are my favorites for the year in supporting actors…
#1: Chris Pratt, Parks and Recreation – He’s come a long way since simple Andy Dwyer who fell in the pit and treated his nurse girlfriend like his personal nanny. Now he’s the shoeshine guy, he’s a married fella, and he’s never been funnier than he has in these past few seasons. What was once a “guest appearance by…” situation has bloomed into a full-fledged vital member of the cast of characters in Pawnee, Indiana. If you don’t find Andy Dwyer one of the most endearing gents on air, you’re missing out.
#2: Nick Offerman, Parks and Recreation – My choice for “best of” last year, Ron Swanson has proven to be an integral and surprisingly layered character for the best show on TV. Not only is he the sounding board for our hero, Leslie Knope, but he’s become a sort of father figure to virtually everyone in the Parks Department. Plus, his relationships with the varied Tammys this year has certainly made for compelling television.
#3: Bill Hader, Saturday Night Live – He’s quickly become the MVP of the sometimes wavering cast of SNL, and it’s frankly amazing that he hasn’t been able to build a more prominent filmography in movie theaters. Then again, as long as that doesn’t happen, we’ll get more Stefon, more James Carville, and more smarmy game show hosts (it’s incredible how reminiscent he is of every ’70s TV contest host you can think of). With Kristen Wiig exiting this season, NBC best hang onto this one.
#4: Ty Burrell, Modern Family – Phil Dunphy is a hopeless dope, not unlike our #1 choice, but a lovable one at that. He can’t seem to do anything right, but his relationship with his kids, particularly little Luke, is one of the most entertaining and believable father-child relationships in TV comedy. And of course there’s always the spousal dynamic between he and Julie Bowen that never disappoints.
#5: Jim O’Heir, Parks and Recreation – Poor Jerry Gergich. Poor, doltish Jerry Gergich. Jim O’Heir plays the schlemiel who remains the butt of every joke and every jab in Pawnee with such fine form, you almost forget how greatly he inhabits the character. Thanks to some additional fleshing out of his character (daughter Milicent, he and wife Gail’s affinity for Muncie’s grand vacation destinations) he’s more of an enjoyable presence than ever.
#6: Garret Dillahunt, Raising Hope – A nominee for me last year, he fell victim this year to the behemoth that is Parks and Rec, but I am no less impressed with his dunderheaded (hmmm… trend I’m sensing?), landscaping dad Bert this year versus the last. Banking mostly on his incredible chemistry with on-screen wife Martha Plimpton and hopeless grocery clerk son Lucas Neff, he’s another great example of sitcom dad, an archetype that seems to be making a comeback.
#7: Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family – My winner in this category in 2009, season two may’ve downplayed Cam’s part a bit in favor of bigger storylines for the rest of the crew, but Stonestreet has managed to maintain the show’s MVP whatever’s thrown at him. The addition of the new plot-point of a second child in the Pritchett-Tucker household has made him all-the-more fun to watch. Let’s hope the writers can keep up with his high-energy performing.
#8: Joel Kinnaman, The Killing – The subtle backbone to what I find to be an intriguing and nerve-wrecking show (despite what the naysayers my think about its supposed “slow-moving plot”), Kinnaman’s bad boy, 8 Mile act makes for great interplay with the straight-laced Linden (Mirielle Enos). His questionable detective methods and his possible ties to the crime at hand make him a pivotal part of the AMC drama.
#9: Adam Scott, Parks and Recreation – The Pawneeans just keep popping up. Boasting the best supporting male cast since Arrested Development, Scott’s Ben Wyatt, the once-prickly former mayor of Patridge, Minnesota, has swiftly become the dorky soul mate to Amy Poehler’s neurotic Leslie. From his bumbling interactions with the local cops to his questionable roleplay (Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt, huh?), Scott’s found a great home post-Party Down.
#10: Michael B. Jordan, Friday Night Lights – When FNL decided to change courses and send the Taylors over to the other side of the tracks, little did my nervous self know that the show would only get better at East Dillon. And the key player on the Lions squad, Vince Howard, is the soul of the team. It’d be easy to write off Jordan’s performance as just another troubled teen who makes good. But he’s incredibly believable and you couldn’t help but root for him.