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Screen + Sound + Stage
August 11, 2014

Second In Command

Text by Nittal Chandarana

Leads, step aside. It’s time for the stock characters to bask in their independent glory

  • Tyrion Lannister, Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones, Second in Command
    Peter Dinklage
  • Samantha Jones, Kim Cattrall, Sex and the City, Second in Command
    Kim Cattrall
  • Barney Stinson, Neil Patrick Harris, How I Met Your Mother, Second in Command
    Neil Patrick Harris
  • Friends, Rachel Green, Jennifer Aniston, Second in Command
    David Schwimmer and Jennifer Aniston
  • Cristina Yang, Sandra Oh, Grey's Anatomy, Second in Command
    Sandra Oh
  • Moriarty, Sherlock, Andrew Scott, Second in Command
    Andrew Scott

In the era of binge-watching TV, we are almost living the life of the protagonists. And more often than not, that of the supporting cast. These characters have so much more spunk than the leads, aren’t governed by rules and exist without the pressure of being right all the time.

Take Tyrion Lannister from Game of Thrones. He was the most loved character even in the book (A Song of Ice and Fire) and when the series came on primetime television, there was no way you could ignore him. Not only was Tyrion impeccably written, but also superbly brought to life by the Lilliputian Peter Dinklage. It’s not everyday that a man brings home an Emmy and a Golden Globe.

Going back in time, Samantha Jones from Sex and the City (played by Kim Cattrall) comes to mind. This no-holds-barred, racy member of the quartet stood out for her absolute lack of morals. She was everything that Charlotte wasn’t, Miranda despised and Carrie admired. If she were a man, she’d be legendary.

Which brings us to Mr. Legendary himself – Barney Stinson from How I Met Your Mother. Suddenly, suits were the only suave pieces of attire and the word ‘awesome’, a mandatory remark on everybody’s lips. Neil Pattrick Harris plays a chauvinist womanizer. And what a fine job he does. In real life, he’s gay, engaged to David Burtka and is the proud father of twins Gideon Scott and Harper Grace. A master of his craft; a supremely convincing actor.

Friends presented to us Rachel Greene. Initially a sitcom about Monica, her brother Ross, and their friends, it ultimately gave equal footage to all six. Jennifer Anniston shone in her role as the token gritty American blonde gaining immense popularity and a huge fan following. ‘The Rachel’ was one of the trendiest hairstyles you could have. Everyone wanted a passionate Ross-Rachel romance. Off-screen, she was Hollywood royalty.

In Grey’s Anatomy, although Meredith was a strong leading lady by herself, Christina Yang (played by Sandra Oh) comes in a close second. She steals the limelight many a times with her cool, calculating attitude. Sandra Oh wins in her sheer quality of expression and the kind of detachment she presents.

And then came Moriarty – this man, who time and again gave Sherlock Holmes a run for his money. We hoped and prayed he would be killed. The mayhem would stop. When that happened, we felt that the show would never be complete again. It’s the same with all these protagonist-antagonist pairs. What’s a Batman without Joker or a Harry without Voldemort? Andrew Scott as Jim Moriarty effortlessly captured the whims of all those Sherlocked. When he appears and asks “Did you miss me?” it makes for the finest moment of Season 3. And that defines what we love about the shows – the cast that should never be cast off!

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