Best of: sitcom characters on television today

Liana Hofer

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There are a lot of great characters on television today, but we’ve rounded up our favorite funny men and woman on prime-time.

1. Phil Dunphy (Played by Ty Burrell on ‘Modern Family’)

As oblivious as he is juvenile, the character of Phil Dunphy has taken the role of doofus sitcom husband to a new and lovable level. Imagine the clumsiness of Lucille Ball, the cluelessness of Michael Scott (of ‘The Office’) and the slang of Snoop Dogg. Of course, Phil considers himself a suave ladies’ man, but his past run as a college cheerleader along with his poor word choice while trying to seduce his wife (some of his best moments belong to when he becomes his alter-ego, Clive Bixby) gets in the way. As a self-proclaimed “cool dad,” he avoids discipline like the plague, and refers to his parenting method as “peerenting” in which he treats his children like friends and uses whatever slang he can pick up. With some of the best lines to hit television since Arrested Development, Phil’s character is one of those that will force you to use the pause button just to catch your breath from laughing.

Memorable line: “You can insult a lot of things about me: my hair, my voice, my balance-board exercises, but don’t insult my selling! That crosses a line. What line? Oh, you don’t see it? That’s because I just sold it!”

 

2. Leslie Knope (Played by Amy Poehler on ‘Parks & Recreation’)

In a small town, deep in the heart of Indiana works Leslie Knope, the deputy director of the Parks Department and my favorite female primetime character on television today. She defies all stereotypes of the bra-burning feminists we’ve seen in the past, and instead brings a refreshing portrayal of an ambitious woman who can hold her own against the gruffest of men (an example of which is her libertarian boss, Ron Swanson, also one of the best characters on TV). She’s hopelessly hopeful without a bit of irony, and is earnestly committed to making Pawnee a better place to live. Yes, she’s slightly neurotic. Yes, she’s clueless when it comes to men. And yes, she has an unhealthy addiction to sugar. Yet, consistent with the long-standing history of human quirks, Leslie’s flaws only make her more endearing. In Leslie Knope, we find a character that her wall full of female government figures (Madeleine Albright, Hillary Clinton and Condaleeza Rice) can approve of.

Memorable line: “I’m a feminist, OK? I would never ever go to a strip club. I’ve gone on record that if I had to have a stripper’s name, it would be E Quality, but I’m willing to sacrifice all that I’ve worked for just to put a smile on your perverted little face.”

 

3. Abed Nadir (Played by Danny Pudi on ‘Community’)

In the study group of misfits at Greendale Community College, Abed Nadir is the greatest misfit of them all. Besides the fact that he often has his own plot that’s separate from the group (in one episode, his story line that involved him delivering a baby completely took place in the background shots), he is unable to connect to human emotions. In fact, the only way he can relate to his peers is through film and pop culture references, which he does constantly. His separation from the group puts Abed in a continuous state of observance, which serves a strong purpose: Abed is the perfect narrator. He has the ability to sum up the arc of each episode and can precisely point out the function of each member of the study group. He’s loyal, strange and entertaining (he once tried to hit on a girl while acting like a vampire). Abed is certainly odd, but his unique role in the series makes him a mold-breaking character.

Memorable line: “To be blunt, Jeff and Britta is no Ross and Rachel. Your chemistry and sexual tension are putting us all on edge, which is ironically, and hear this on every level, you’re keeping us from being friends.”