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DID YOU READ

8 TV Stars Who Were Awesome Twice

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By Jeff Finkle

There may never be another drama on TV with a character arc as intensely captivating as Walter White’s on Breaking Bad and Bryan Cranston’s performance was in a word, perfect. If you were a fan of the 2000’s era sitcom Malcolm in the Middle, then you knew just how awesomely funny Cranston was as Malcolm’s lovable father, Hal. Hal and Walter were as different as night and day. Walter liked to wear a pork pie hat, Hal preferred roller skates. Oddly enough, they were both quite comfortable in their tighty whities.

Here are six other actors who were awesome twice and almost as nice as Bryan Cranston.

8. Larry Hagman, I Dream of Jeannie/Dallas

Decades before Bryan Cranston broke out as amazingly bad and unexpectedly awesome with Walter White, Larry Hagman turned J.R. Ewing into the villain everybody loved to hate on Dallas. J.R.’s thirst for black gold was every bit as voracious as Walter’s hunger for the power that his blue crystal meth gave him. Even though Hagman’s affable Tony Nelson was an astronaut on I Dream of Jeannie, he did share one strong similarity to Hal on Malcolm in the Middle. Despite the fact that the beautiful Jeannie was literally his genie in a bottle, she was clearly the one wearing the (Hammer) pants in the family.


7. Neil Patrick Harris, Doogie Howser, M.D./How I Met Your Mother

Neil Patrick Harris, or NPH as Twitter likes to call him, is the rare triple threat star who can sing, dance, and as Barney on HIMYM, he could wait-for-it…make sweet love with over 2,000 bimbos. But for anyone old enough to remember when MTV had videos, Neil made America fall for Doogie Howser, M.D. When the adorable teenage doctor wasn’t saving lives or hanging with his pal Vinnie, he was writing in his computer journal a decade before people knew what a blog was.


6. Ed O’Neill, Married With Children/Modern Family

“Let’s Rock.” This slacker rallying cry was delivered by The Fox network’s first rock star, Al Bundy. There had never been a character like Al Bundy before and a family like The Bundys who cared more about themselves than each other. Though of course they were always up for a “Whoaa Bundy!” chant when it came to getting out of having to do anything besides sitting on the couch. It’s a testament to Ed O’Neill’s acting ability that he could embody two iconic TV dads, decades apart, whose only shared character traits are the ability to be annoyed by their family.


5. Katey Sagal, Married with Children/Sons of Anarchy

The fact that neither Ed O’Neill nor Katey Sagal has won an Emmy in their careers is hard to imagine. Emmy voters are lucky that Sagal’s Gemma is just a character that she played on Sons of Anarchy, or else a SAMCRO beat down might just be in order. It is a credit to Sagal’s acting chops and gravitas that she was such a convincingly conniving, cut-throat Lady Macbeth-esque matriarch to the SAMCRO biker gang. Equally amazing is how she managed to look sexier as a 50-something biker chick than she did as a big-haired, bon bon-eating Peggy Bundy on Married With Children, decades earlier. (If you count Katey’s voiceover role as Leela on Futurama, she’s a three-timer on the awesome scale.)


4. Michael C. Hall, Six Feet Under/Dexter

Despite what anyone thought of Dexter’s (SPOILER ALERT) lumberjack finale, they watched the show for eight years because Michael C. Hall made the complex character his own and became everyone’s favorite closeted serial killer. Hall had established himself a few years earlier on the highly acclaimed HBO series Six Feet Under as David Fisher, the sensitive gay brother in the dysfunctional Fisher clan. Michael C. Hall brought two polar opposite characters to life in equally memorable and often humorous ways.

3. Jeffrey Tambor, The Larry Sanders Show/Arrested Development/Transparent

Hey Now! Twice is nice but thrice is nicer and Jeffrey Tambor has portrayed three classic TV characters that all showed that he is more than just a go-to comedic character actor. Tambor’s Hank Kingsley was the sidekick you hoped Ed McMahon was actually like, and arguably the funniest part of the critically acclaimed The Larry Sanders Show in the ‘90s. He fit perfectly with the hilarious ensemble cast of Arrested Development as George Bluth Sr. (and his twin Oscar) but no TV viewer could have predicted that his performance of a lifetime would be when he got in touch with his feminine side. As Maura Pfefferman on Transparent, he is transfixing as he captures all the right emotions, as well as the humor of what it’s like for a Jewish dad to come out to his family as a transgendered woman.


2. Fred Armisen, Saturday Night Live/Portlandia 

Perhaps we’re biased, but Fred joins the ranks of SNL star who went on to great TV success (Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Andy Samberg, etc.) with his role on Portlandia.

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1. Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Seinfeld/Veep

The actress formerly known as Elaine became the only Seinfeld star to shake the show’s dreaded curse when she scored the lead role in the Emmy-winning Veep. If you’ve ever wondered what Elaine would be like as president, you’re in for a treat.

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Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.

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Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:

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The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.

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They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!

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Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.

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Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.

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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.