Has anyone else noticed that there’s no shortage of depressed characters on television these days? The National Post‘s Robert Fulford wants to know why downers make for such good television in recent times, from modern sagas to historical retellings. Whatever the reason behind such writing and its success, there are certainly plenty of morose roles out there. Here are our picks for top 10 most depressed characters on TV today. Let us know who we missed.
10. Pete Hornberger of 30 Rock
Liz Lemon’s co-producer Pete (played by Scott Adsit) has a stressful job. Managing the likes of Tracy Jordan and Jenna Maroney would probably drive anyone to the edge, but on top of that Pete doesn’t seem to get any peace at home either. No wonder he’s losing his hair and having sex with his wife while she’s asleep.
9. Will Travers of Rubicon
Granted any character in the center of a show focused on conspiracy theories is going to be a little jumpy, but Will Travers (James Badge Dale) seems to be constantly searching for something that’s almost there. It’s not your run-of-the-mill case of depression, but he’s certainly got some issues.
8. Jackie Peyton of Nurse Jackie
Jackie Peyton (Edie Falco) is an experienced ER nurse struggling to care for her patients in the mess that is the modern healthcare system. Add to that a unstable love life and addiction to prescription drugs and it’s pretty hard to wake up bright and sunny every day.
7. Enoch “Nucky” Thompson of Boardwalk Empire
The prohibition-era king pin Nucky Thompson (played by Steve Buscemi) has a lot going for him. As Atlantic City’s treasurer he has his hand in government affairs and maintains a certain level of respect in the community — he’s someone who people in need come to. But he’s also a business man who happens to smuggle alcohol at an enormous profit. While it sounds like a pretty sweet deal (did we mention his lover played by Paz de la Huerta?), Nucky’s dual life makes happiness hard to hold on to.
6. Dr. Gregory House of House
Like Jackie, Dr. House (played by British actor Hugh Laurie) almost constantly deals with life-or-death situations and bureaucratic red tape. He fundamentally mistrusts others and revels in pushing the buttons of colleagues and patients alike. The insanely-cynical House is also addicted to pain medication and really only has one friend, fellow doctor James Wilson.
5. The cast of In Treatment
It’s pretty obvious that a show that looks at modern psychotherapy would be full of depressed characters. Following Paul Weston (Golden Globe-winner Gabriel Byrne) through his week of patients, we meet Frances, a Broadway actress with a sister dying of breast cancer, Jesse, a homosexual, adopted teenager dealing with his sense of identity, and Sunil, an Indian unhappy with his children. The kicker? Weston himself is also in treatment.
4. Ron Swanson of Parks and Recreation
Pawnee’s parks and recreation department isn’t quite a higher calling, yet most of the characters get through the day. Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman), on the other hand, seems to be convinced that the office isn’t all that important, and his lack of concern and droopy mustache perfectly reflect this realization.
3. Creighton Bernette of Treme
Creighton Bernette, an English professor at Tulane played by the brilliant John Goodman, is watching his beloved city fall apart around him in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Eventually Bernette takes to YouTube to air his profanity-laden complaints, some addressed directly to then-President George W. Bush. The character is based on Ashley Morris, a New Orleans resident with a similarly outspoken love of the Big Easy and swearing.
2. Don Draper of Mad Men
The fourth season of Mad Men saw an already-shaky Don Draper (Jon Hamm) spiral out of control. With an ex who resembles the devil, a struggling start-up agency, and a confused if not unhealthy relationship with booze and cigarettes, Don was definitely starting to lose it — and we’re not buying that Megan is the solution to all of his problems.
1. Toby Flenderson of The Office
Poor Toby Flenderson (played by Paul Lieberstein, who also serves as one of the show’s writers) is caught in the middle of a perfect storm. He works at Dunder Mifflin’s Scranton branch, which means the he not only works at a paper company in a small town in Pennsylvania, but he also has to deal with Michael Scott (who hates him!) and all of the other wackos in the office as their human relations rep. We recently discovered that he finished writing his mystery novel over the summer only to end up being sued for plagiarism. Sometimes it’s hard to watch.