One could argue that behind every truly great TV character, there’s an equally great sidekick. Granted, not every lead TV character has a sidekick while others have more than one. In show’s like Friends and Seinfeld there are multiple characters who often take turns playing the role of the sidekick. Most people associate sidekicks with comics and movies. Batman had Robin, Han had Chewy, Calvin had Hobbes, Frodo had Sam and the list goes on. But there are actually plenty of TV characters that also have their trusted sidekicks at their side to help them out and provide a bit of moral support.

Generally with regards to TV shows, I define a sidekick as a character who sits in the figurative passenger seat and supports the lead character on their journey. They’re also useful at giving the lead character advice or guidance in helping them pursue their goals. That’s sort of a formal definition though. When it comes to TV shows, the sidekick’s role varies from show to show.

In Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Buffy had Willow and Xander in the earlier seasons. As the series progressed, Willow’s abilities as a witch improved so much that I think she actually grew out of her sidekick status. Xander, on the other hand, never had any magical abilities or super powers so his sidekick status stayed in tact throughout the series. While Xander wasn’t super-human, he did serve a purpose as more than just a friend to Buffy. His sense of humor and bravery in the face of mortal situations added a lot to the heart of the Scoobies.

Hiro, of Heroes has Ando. Similar to Xander, Ando has no super abilities yet he still accompanies Hiro on most of his journey throughout the first season of the series. Ando was the one to keep Hiro’s spirits up when the situation seemed impossible. He took risks; even when he was on his own, to help Hiro fulfill his missions.

There are plenty of sidekicks in shows that don’t involve super heroes. Take The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, for example. In that series, Jazz was Will’s sidekick but in terms of moral support, he was fairly useless. In Fresh Prince, I always thought the purpose of Jazz was to remind us of where Will came from. Granted, Jazz was sort of an exaggerated version of your typical guy from the streets. He was obnoxious, constantly flirted with Hillary and never knew how to behave when hanging out at the Banks’ residence. Basically he was just there for laughs and he actually made Will seem a lot more refined by comparison.

A great sidekick from a more recent series is Marc St. James from Ugly Betty. As Wilhelmina’s assistant, Marc is on hand to take her calls, inject Botox into her face and help her plot to take over MODE Magazine. He’s hilariously bitchy and knows just what to say to cheer his boss up. There’s a softer side to Marc, which comes out every once in a while and shows that underneath his catty exterior, he’s actually kind of a decent guy.

Sidekicks aren’t entirely limited to scripted series. In the reality series, Big Brother, Mike “Boogie” was definitely Will Kirby’s sidekick. Though they called themselves “Chilltown” in both of the seasons they resided in the Big Brother house, Will was definitely the leader of the two-man team. Will did most of the plotting and manipulating while Boogie provided the back-up support.

While we accept that in shows that involve supporting characters playing the role of the sidekick, these characters’ stories are often put on the back burner throughout most of the series in order to give the leading character the spotlight but I still love to see the writers devote some time to the sidekicks. Once in a while we’ll get a stand-alone episode that focuses more on the sidekick than the main character. In Buffy, there was “The Zeppo.” The episode aired in season three and focused almost entirely on Xander. In that episode, he ended up saving the day all on his own. In Ugly Betty, there was “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” That episode focused on Marc and him coming out to his mother. It was one of those rare times when he slipped out of his bitchy façade and showed that he can actually be a sensitive guy.

Sidekicks can be funny or serious. The point is, they’re almost always in support of the leading character and in many cases, serve as the glue that keeps the character from falling apart when things get rough. While the lead characters might be able to get by without their sidekicks, I think most of the shows that include this type of supporting role are all the better for it. Long live the TV sidekick!

What to Watch (8/26 to 9/1)

Big Brother (CBS) 8:00 pm
(New!) The LNC version 3.0 has control over the game once again. Daniele passed the torch back to Jessica on Thursday after Jen’s eviction. Who will Jessica target this week?

Entourage (HBO) 10:00 pm
No Cannes Do - (New!) The guys are all set to head to Cannes for the big Medellin premiere but they run into problems when there’s a security crisis at the airport. Also, Ari has to deal with Lloyd and his wife’s desire to go to France.

Greek (ABC Family) 9:00 pm
Separation Anxiety (New!) – Casey does community service work that causes her to have to work with Dale’s religious group. Meanwhile, Cappie and Rusty try to keep their minds off women.

Mission: Man Band (VH1) 10:00 pm
Boo Hoo Hoo – Making Magic (New!) – Things don’t go so well at the Magic game. The crowd jeers and the guys start to question their new manager’s decisions.

Power of 10 (CBS) 8:00 pm
(new!) – Attention Big Brother fans! This episode of Power of 10 will feature Daniele and Amber. Find out how each of them did when they had the chance to play against each other and potentially win up to $10 million.

Big Brother 8 (CBS) 9:00 pm
(new!) – The two nominees (feed-watchers know who they are!) have the chance to play for the Veto along with three other randomly selected houseguests. Will the Veto be used to save someone and if so, who will go up in their place?

Damages (FX)
It looks like FX is taking a break from Damages this week. They have The Aviator playing on Tuesday night.

Last Comic Standing(NBC) 9:00 pm
(New!) – One of the final 5 contestants is eliminated and the remaining four have the chance to perform again.

Rescue Me(FX) 10:00 pm
Cycle (New!) – Tommy goes out with Beth (Amy Sedaris) again. Franco is still dealing with his recent break-up.

Big Brother 8 (CBS) 8:00 pm
Live Episode (new!) – One of the houseguests is evicted and a new Head of Household is crowned.

The Fabulous Life Presents- My Big Fat Fabulous Wedding (VH1) 10:00 pm
(new!) – What kind of wedding would you throw for yourself of money was no object?

Burn Notice (USA) 10:00 pm
It looks like USA is airing the U.S. Open on Thursday night so there’s no new episode of Burn Notice this week.

Monk and Psych(USA)
It looks like Monk and Psych got bumped by the U.S. Open this week. Tennis, anyone?

13 Going on 30 (FOX) 8:00 pm
It’s pretty much a knock-off of Big but with a chick-flick twist to it. Jennifer Garner plays Jenna, a girl who, on her 13th birthday, wishes she was 30. Naturally, she wakes up 30 years old. Unlike in Big though, Jenna is actually living in the reality of her own life as a 30 year old if she continues on the path she’s headed down. It’s cute but mostly only worth watching to see Garner’s humorously cute portrayal of a 13 year old in a 30 year old’s body. Also Mark Ruffalo is adorable and there’s a great scene involving the classic Thriller dance.

The Sound of Music (ABC Family) 7:00 pm
I’m such a sucker for Julie Andrews. As a child, I loved this musical for the music but when I re-watched it as an adult I found that there’s actually a very romantic love story there. Captain von Trapp and Maria fall for each other and they never saw it coming. This movie has everything: Nuns, a widower, singing children and Nazis.


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