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    Relevant TV, Internet, and Movie Characters

    By Jan Wahl–

    Television on YouTube is a place to easily access characters torn right from the front pages.

    Who could be more modern than Larry David? This standup comic and creator of Seinfeld causes us both to cringe and laugh. The show is Curb Your Enthusiasm and there are ten seasons to find or re-watch on HBO Max or wherever you find it. Follow the life of David, a wealthy, bossy, judgmental Angelino, as he alienates everyone he meets. Some would say he is too outrageous; I would disagree since I worked for a man exactly like this. He is about to start his 11th season, but there are a few episodes that warrant viewing again. My favorites include “The Survivor” (season 4, episode 9) and “The Car Pool Lane” (season 4, episode 6.) There is much swearing and inappropriate sexual comedy, so be forewarned.

    Are you one of the lucky ones who has discovered Olive and Mabel? Based on the bestselling Olive, Mabel and Me: Life and Adventures with Two Good Dogs by Andrew Cotter, this is one of the funniest and simplest shows you will ever see. Enchanting is also a word for these short clips of two labs who are moderated by a former sports commentator who loves them very much. It is perfect for the attention deficit, since we have exciting conflicts like breakfast eating, bone snatching, internet dating, and household help. Ryan Reynolds is a fan and has helped their popularity, although I have a feeling these two canines could’ve made it with no help at all. Olive, Mabel, and their ever-so-serious owner Andrew remind us to chill out during these tense times.

    There are two characters in the terrific 2006 series 30 Rock that are respectively too smart and too dim, but both are reminders of those around us. Tina Fey portrays Liz Lemon, the producer of a network television show. She’s highly educated, articulate, streetwise, has terrible taste in men, and lacks certain social skills. Her smart, yet insecure, dialogue is perfect for those out there who wonder how such bright people can get into such trouble. Jack McBrayer’s Kenneth is cheerful and obedient as the lowly NBC page, but since he lives for television, he is a happy camper. He is completely naïve about people and their motives, especially the sharks that swim in showbiz waters, but is sweet and endearing.

    Let’s go to the movies with one of my favorite characters in an underappreciated film. 2010’s The Way is about an ophthalmologist who travels to France to walk the famed Camino de Santiago. He is hoping to heal his pain of the past. Rather than shutting the door on his sorrow at losing his estranged son on this sacred path, he hikes it himself. Martin Sheen was brilliant in this one, available on various channels. The Way provides a reminder of all of us trying to make peace with our memories, and to find a way to soothe ourselves.

    We have faced self-centered and immoral politicians in a way we never thought possible. Let’s add some needed laughs to that kind of egomaniacal character with Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Selina Mayer in Veep. This 2012 HBO series stays fresh in its depiction of the inner workings of the government, led by a terrible politician and her minions who keep winning. We eavesdrop on their thinking and conversations, horrified at their immorality and complete disregard for the truth as long as it gets them re-elected. Believe it or not, it’s funny!

    Sometimes there are movie and TV characters who are open to surprises and happy endings. Even if it is just Hollywood fantasy, we need to look at the possibilities of positives! Big Eden (2000) gives us an entire Montana town full of incredibly supportive townsfolk, hoping to help a displaced New Yorker find love. Alice Wu’s wonderful comedy Saving Face has two women in love trying to survive the visit of a traditional mother. The visit helps them come to a place of conflict resolution and joyful acceptance. A man learns to be a better father through his son’s unconditional love in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. There are relevant, bright characters in these three films, the kind of people we need to look for and know. 

    From the quirky cast in Northern Exposure to the complicated love of Brokeback Mountain to our fragile Marilyn Monroe, reel characters are everywhere!  

    Emmy Award-winner Jan Wahl is a renowned entertainment reporter, producer, and teacher. A member of the prestigious Directors Guild of America, she is regularly featured on KPIX television (every Monday morning starting at 6:15 am) and on KCBS AM & FM and other media outlets. To read and listen to her reviews for KCBS, go to: For more info about her remarkable life and career: Check out her entertaining and informative videos at

    Published on November 5, 2020