It's no secret that the TV world has been in a bit of a renaissance lately. Between network and cable and premium networks, as well as streaming services, there is no shortage of compelling and original stories being told on the small screen. And with plenty of film stars coming to TV through limited series, there have been some seriously amazing new characters introduced this year. While there are plenty to chose from, here are my personal picks for the eight most interesting new characters from the past 12 months of TV.
Ofglen (The Handmaid's Tale)
One of the biggest hits of 2017 was Hulu's original series The Handmaid's Tale. Based off of the acclaimed novel of the same name, the series is set in a dystopian America that has completely stripped women of their rights, forcing those who are able to bear children into forced prostitution for the rich and powerful. Ofglen is one of those Handmaids, and is played with strength and subtlety by Gilmore Girls actress Alexis Bledel. She alerts protagonist Offred about the resistance group known as Mayday, and inspires her peers to stand up against Gilead. Bledel ended up winning an Emmy for her performance, and has been promoted to a series regular for Season 2. So fear not, we haven't seen the last of Ofglen.
Brockmire is one of the sleeper hits of the year, and brought the always delightful Hank Azaria back to the small screen in live-action. Brockmire revolves around Azaria's title character who is a play-by-play announcer for professional baseball games. But when he catches his wife cheating on him, he has a melt down on mic that basically ends his career. Brockmire picks up years later, as Azaria's character is hired by a podunk stadium to announce the games. He's got a drug and alcohol problem, an inflated sense of ego, and a cartoonish speaking voice that shows why the Azaria is great in both voice acting and live-action performances. The series was renewed by IFC for a second season, which will follow Brockmire as he gets hired for a new job, and continues to mess up situations with his hilarious flawed perspective on life.
Edmund Kemper (Mindhunter)
Mindhunter is one of Netlix's most recent hits, directed almost entirely by the acclaimed filmmaker David Fincher. The series follows FBI agents Holden Ford and Bill Tench, who begin the organization's Behavioral Science Unit. The team interviews serial killers, in an attempt to understand the motivations and factors that went into their decision to kill time and time again. This includes real life serial killer Edmund Kemper, played by actor Cameron Britton. While one would think he'd be a terrifying force with his giant stature and penchant for murder and necrophilia, he's played with an even keel and uneasy charm. Mindhunter doesn't show any of the blood and guts, instead allowing the audience to visualize the murders as they're explained. And Kemper's scenes with the agents are some of the first season's biggest standouts.
Nola Darling (She's Gotta Have It)
She's Gotta Have It is legendary director Spike Lee's new Netflix series. Based off his debut film of the same name, the series brings the characters into a modern time frame, and expands them from the black and white movie. The series revolves around Nola Darling (DeWanda Wise) and the three men she's dating. Nola is a self-described "sex-positive, polyamorous pansexual who doesn't believe in monogamy", and leads the series with grace and humility. Her love for sex and dating is only superseded by her passion for art, and she's unwavering in her unique belief system. The series has all the style and music of a typical Spike Lee joint, but the TV version of Nola improves upon the film character, with her often breaking the fourth wall to address the audience directly. It's unclear if the show will return for a sophomore season, but hopefully Nola will be back again soon.
The Hormone Monster (Big Mouth)
With Netflix producing such a plethora of original content, it should be no surprise that another adult animated series has followed BoJack Horseman. Enter Big Mouth, from the minds of Nick Kroll and John Mulaney (The Kroll Show, Oh, Hello on Broadway). Revolving around a group of 7th grade best friends, the show follows as a motley crew of quirky kids begin going through puberty. And when Mulaney's character Andrew starts feeling a tingling in his pants, the physical manifestation of his primal urges appears as The Hormone Monster. Voiced by Nick Kroll, this character is bonkers, ridiculously crude, and is one of the real highlights of the series. It keeps the tone of the series appropriately ridiculous, and when a female Hormone Monster voice by Maya Rudolph enters the picture, it all gets elevated to even more nonsensical stakes.
Micro (The Punisher)
While Netflix's The Defenders proved a bit critically mixed, its latest Marvel series once again rose to the top with The Punisher. The fandom was eager to see the return of Jon Bernthal's Frank Castle and Deborah Ann Woll's Karen Page, although there were also a ton of new characters to introduce. Perhaps the most layered and interesting was Micro, played by Girls alum Ebon Moss-Bachrach. The shady and schlubby guy on the computer ended up having having a big heart and strong spirit, going to great lengths to protect his family from the forces out to get him. This focus on family, as well as their common enemy, is ultimately what bonds he and The Punisher. Now let's hope he manages to reappear somewhere in the Defenders universe.
Renata Klein (Big Little Lies)
Besides The Handmaid's Tale, HBO's Big Little Lies was the other big winner at the 2017 Emmy Awards. The miniseries was based of Liane Moriarty's novel, following the lives of five mothers in Monterey. The cast is stacked full of talent and filled with inspired performances, as the backdrop of a mysterious murder give the show extremely high stakes. Laura Dern plays supporting character Renata Klein, a powerful business woman struggling with resentment from the other mothers, as well as her child being attacked in school. Renata is a great character because she sits from a place of privilege, but is also self-aware. And while she can be petty and manipulative, she ultimately has good morals and will admit to her missteps. It's no reason Dern picked up an Emmy for her performance, with the possibility of a Golden Globe just out of reach.
Bob Newby (Stranger Things 2)
It should come to no surprise that a character with the word "new" in his name should make it onto this list. Sean Astin made his debut as Bob Newby in the first episode of Stranger Things 2, and instantly captured the hearts of the streaming service's subscribers. Bob is the show's most genuine and sweet character, bringing out a lighter side in Winona Ryder's Joyce, and providing a father figure to Will. In fact, some fans theorized he was too nice and could possibly be a mole from Hawkins, Lab. Ultimately Sean Astin did what he does best; crafting an endearing character that instantly steals the show and breaks all of our hearts. And just when we thought our winds had finally recovered from Rudy and Lord of the Rings.