5 Fictional Characters Who Don't Deserve Our Hate
Pop culture is full of characters that everyone agrees are terrible. We hate them with a piercing intensity that we usually reserve for things like terminal illnesses or Black Eyed Peas albums. And at worst, they're mostly just simple hindrances in the lives of our heroes, but we've agreed as a polite society to say "screw them." And a lot of these characters don't deserve all that hatred. For example ...
Janice From Friends
You know Janice Litman Goralnik from Friends. She's Chandler's on-again, off-again girlfriend in the first few seasons. Her primary trait: she's annoying. Dear god, is she annoying. She's loud, abrasive, clueless, tasteless, and there's that laugh:
Everyone in the show seems to agree that she's the worst. Even Joey hates her, and Joey is basically an oversexed Italian-American puppy dog. Even worse, she actually cheats on our beloved Chandler in season three, which is pretty shitty thing to do. As viewers, we come to agree with the Friends (as I assume we all refer to the central characters) that she's deserving of hate. Seriously, that goddamn laugh.
But when you get past her screeching responses to humor, Janice has never actually deserved our hatred. She's never been anything but kind to the Friends and she was willing to give Chandler a shot when he was literally openly saying how much he despised her and basically just using her for sex and as a fallback. She's also the only one who's consistently willing to laugh at his terrible jokes, but that just seems to make him more full of hatred. In one episode, she helps him pack his apartment and move, even though he's just lying to her. In another, she seeks comfort with Ross after their mutual divorces, and is treated like a garbage monster for sleeping with him ... even though she and Chandler hadn't been an item for a very long time. At Chandler's request. Because he wanted nothing to do with her.
And about that time she cheated on Chandler? She made out with her husband, who she was in the process of divorcing. They actually end up getting back together, which means that, if anyone is an intruding third party, it's Chandler.
Even if she hadn't, Chandler never treated her like anything but a disposable pile of Long Island accents. He constantly dumped her at the slightest whim and repeatedly lied to her. If anything, kissing her husband was the best decision she made; she was getting with a person who wanted to be with her, unlike Chandler, a sentient ball of self-loathing and shit-talking made manifest.
Janice is just a regular person whose main flaw is that she gives Chandler the benefit of doubt too often, and she is absolutely demonized for it. All she wanted was companionship and affection, but you just couldn't look past that cackle, could you?
Ted From How I Met Your Mother
There might not be a lead character of a sitcom who is as hated as Ted Mosby, the narrator and "I" of How I Met Your Mother. Whole articles have been devoted to talking about how much this sad sack of romantic fantasies sucks. And they're not totally unjustified. He's incredibly pretentious, ceaselessly mopey, and he acts like a jerk to anyone (especially women) who don't conform to his storybook idea of a relationship. He's basically a thirty-year-old child who expects the world to deliver him everything he ever wants, and gets all boo-hoo whenever the gods don't beam him a worthy partner.
BUT, Ted is the only person on the show with a concrete sense of himself, and it rubs everyone the wrong way. He might have some bizarrely idealistic notions about relationships, but you know what? Welcome to pop culture. Ninety percent of all comedies are about men-children who don't view women as having their own desires or personalities. An empire has been built on this concept, despite the fact that it's been outdated since 2000 BC.
So, it seems weird to call out one specific character for this, when it's all pop culture ever does. And as for his weird devotion to an ideal romance and relationship? Pop culture constantly teaches us that we need to stick to what we believe and what we want. It's a lesson that you'll find at the end of every movie ever. "Do what you truly want, and you'll be happy. Don't, and you'll probably get punched off a building by someone who did."
And that's part of why Ted is hated: he knows what he wants. He wants to be an architect, design a building in New York, get married, and have kids. He starts the show wanting that, and he sticks to it. He lives like we've all been taught to. Compared to him, his friends have no idea what they want in life: Marshall waffles about what kind of law he wants to practice for full seasons. Lily freaks out about marriage, moves to San Francisco to go to art school, and drops out of that. Robin has crippling relationship issues that affect all of her decisions, and Barney is a tyrannosaur of questionable sexual encounters.
Whether you like what he likes or not, Ted at least knows what he wants. And he tries to believe in it, and by extension, himself.
Skyler From Breaking Bad
According to Heisenberg fans, Skyler White is the worst person in the world. She is a nag and a shrill harpy ... which just randomly happen to be words people specifically use to diminish women. But more than that, she's a hypocrite and a liar who cheats on her husband.
A husband, who per the premise of the show, is trying to make enough money for his family to be supported before he dies of terminal cancer. For all of his crimes, Walt is trying to help his family (while conveniently becoming a badass in the process), and Skyler just hinders him and drags her feet. Just try to google "Skyler White hate" and you'll watch an entire internet crash down on a character with cartoonish, misguided fury.
But, come on. Skyler's life turns into a nightmare, and she gets upset about it. That's really her character arc and no reasonable person could possibly blame her for it. Consider Skyler's life: she's married to this bummer of a guy:
They're constantly struggling with financial issues and a special-needs child and then boom, terminal cancer jumps in the mix. For most people, that would be the worst, but Skyler, she also gets to deal with said husband going off the deep end. Over the course of the show, Walter murders multiple people and destroys countless lives through creating a highly addictive drug, and yet Skyler having sex with her boss somehow makes her the worst person on the show. The rage against her actually got so bad that Anna Gunn, the actress playing Skyler, wrote an op-ed discussing the sheer vitriol around the character. Skyler's a person just trying to salvage some part of a sane life, and all of pop culture had decided that she was just a roadblock in the life of Wish Fulfillment Walt.
Draco Malfoy From Harry Potter
Okay, just look at this smug little son of a bitch. He's a racist, classist pretty-boy who constantly falls back on his father's wealth and gets in the way of Harry Potter, the hero of our tale, at every opportunity.
Over the course of the series, Draco consistently is an outright dick, if not actually allied with the powers of evil. He's arrogant, a coward and a bully, and you spend most of the seven books wishing that J.K. Rowling ended every chapter with "And then, out of nowhere and regardless of whether he deserved it at the time or not, Hermione punched Draco again."
He's also a child. People hate a character who's literally a little boy going to a boarding school away from his family for the first time in his life. And yes, he is a racist and a classist, but again, this is the first time in his entire life that he's interacting with people who have different backgrounds and outlooks than him. That's the entire point of school, to learn about the world. At this point, all he's had to go by is his parents, one of whom looks like he's about to reveal his master plan to James Bond at all times.
Lucius Malfoy is the one who basically has to answer for all of Draco's actions. He mercilessly bullied his son into being the tiny jerk he is, in a cycle of abuse that Draco is struggling with. That's not just my opinion, that's actually how Jason Isaacs was playing Lucius in the movies. Draco is the product of nightmarish circumstances, and struggling with his own problems. And the only way he can handle it is to release his frustrations on the first glasses-wearing "chosen one" in sight.
But over the course of the Harry Potter series, it's clear that Malfoy becomes aware that his family and lifestyle are not great. He nearly has a nervous breakdown when he realizes the people that raised him are evil, and even the worst things that he does are under direct threat of death for him and his family from a pissy snake man.
So you know, not a great indicator that he's all that hate-able. Basically, once Malfoy has had to spend time around people different from himself, he learns to be less of a racist prick, which is pretty impressive for a wealthy and powerful person. In fact, by the end of the series, he's grown past the point of animosity with Potter, his lifelong enemy, which just goes to show that education is valuable, even for racist wizards.
Jar Jar Binks From Star Wars
This doesn't require a lot of explanation, but here goes: Jar Jar Binks is grating. He is just unforgivably grating. He talks in some weird, uncomfortably racist patois, he's clumsy, he's mostly there to give Qui-Gon Jinn something to sigh about, and he eventually gives up control of the galaxy to a Sith lord.
Perhaps more than any single element, he's a symbol of how terribly the prequels botched their job.
However, if you actually watch the movies, nothing that happens in the Star Wars prequels is Jar Jar's fault. Nothing. He's clumsy? So? Some people are, and according to this universe's logic, he's just a random dude that the Jedi come across while they're on a mission. Imagine if you were living your life as a regular person, and suddenly, two space-wizards dragged you along in their wake and your life was constantly put in danger. You have no combat training or Force powers. You can barely speak their language or your own, and they show no interest in yours. Regardless, they keep putting you in danger.
At no point do you claim to be a hero or a warrior or a diplomat, and yet you're constantly getting put into positions where you're required to act as all three, and then people hate you for it. Palpatine outwitted Yoda, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and the rest of the entire galaxy and so, logically, Jar Jar is the one that's blamed for the fall of an entire government.
And consider this: The Star Wars prequels are, by and large, not good movies. This is shocking, I know. And when people finally accepted the fact that these long-awaited movies were kind of shitty, all that rage had to go someplace. It's difficult to be mindlessly angry that "the tone of these films is different than what I experienced as a child!" or “trade agreements seem to be an odd element of what is essentially space opera!” or even "this is a kid's movie and I don't understand that!" None of those are very catchy. But "Jar Jar Sucks!" is. It's simple, to the point, and allows you to vent all this cultural frustration. But he doesn't deserve your hatred. No one does, not even this guy:
Nathan Kamal lives in Oregon and writes there. He co-founded Asymmetry Fiction for all your fiction needs.
For more check out 5 Famous Actors Who Hate Their Most Iconic Roles and 5 Iconic Performances (That Everyone On Set Hated).
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