It’s been an emotional year in TV world, particularly for romantics and children of empires. Whether they had it or coming or were just downright adorable, watching these characters go through the wringer made us want to fetch them a blanket and tell them it was all going to be alright.
*Many Spoilers below*
Kendall Roy, “Succession” (HBO)
Jesse Armstrong’s drama-satire about the one percent doesn’t do likable characters, but it was hard not to feel the odd twinge of empathy for Logan Roy’s eldest. As Kendall carried the weight of guilt and addiction, season two gave us more insight into the daddy (and mommy) issues that broke him in the first place and a powerful, empathy-hijacking performance from Jeremy Strong.
Alan Zaveri “Russian Doll” (Netflix)
Remember the worst heartbreak of your life? Now imagine living that moment over and over again. Welcome to Alan’s life-death loop, which is arguably even worse than Nadia’s because he literally can’t move on from his cheating almost-fiancee. A bodega also features regularly, because that guy needs ice cream.
Theon Greyjoy “Game Of Thrones” (HBO)
Before he was “Reek,” Theon was your typical sociopathic heir on steroids, getting away with all the crimes. But Ramsay Bolton’s physical and psychological torture and eventual emasculation of Theon went well beyond schadenfreude, giving us the show’s most unlikely, most unexpectedly sympathetic hero.
Will Byers “Stranger Things” (Netflix)
Joyce Byers’ youngest has a hard time every season. But it wasn’t alien possession and abduction that made Will finally snap and destroy his beloved Castle Byers, but the sense that his friends were leaving him behind — and would rather hang out with girls than play Dungeons & Dragons. It gets better kid.
Hughie Campbell, Billy Butcher “The Boys” (Amazon)
Would you rather have the love of your life smashed into goo, leaving you holding her severed hands OR discover that your dead wife is not only still alive but has also borne the son of your most hated enemy — who just happens to be the most powerful superhero in the universe? Yeah, this whole show needs to bring it in.
Veronica Mars “Veronica Mars” (Hulu)
Like many of us, Veronica deals with trauma by being a wry smartass. She’s been through the seven circles of hell, from her best friend’s murder to her own roofied assault. Season Four saw her best hope at happiness immediately and brutally destroyed. Oh and she hit her thirties. But if you tried to give her a hug, she wouldn’t accept it and would likely beat you instead.
Baby Yoda, “Mandalorian” (Disney+)
If you don’t want to scoop Baby Yoda up in your arms and never let him go, your childhood must have been worse than Kendall Roy’s. While many theories abound as to the what, how, and why of this impossibly cute lump of green flesh, this meme machine is about to own the holidays. Love Baby Yoda you must, or heartless you are.