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New Year’s Resolutions for Your Favorite TV Characters

GLEE: Kurt (Chris Colfer, L) interrupts a performance by Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz, second from L), Quinn (Dianna Agron, third from L), Santana (Naya Rivera, fourth from L) and Brittany (Heather Morris, R) in the "I Kissed a Girl" episode of GLEE airing Tuesday, Nov. 29 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2011 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Adam Rose/FOX
Photo: Adam Rose/FOX, iStockphoto

We’re rapidly closing in on New Year’s resolutions time, and the usual suspects are as present as ever: stop smoking, eat better, volunteer. But this year, you’re not alone. For every go-to resolution, there’s a character and a show that could benefit from the same renewed commitment to self-betterment, be it entering the dating pool or developing a broader worldview. Here’s what some of TV characters (and shows) ought to add to their 2012 to-do lists.

Not that she’s in anything but perfect physical condition. This isn’t so much a physical suggestion as a mental one: Alicia needs to blow off some steam fast — and The Good Wife could stand to show us the raging, sweating, maybe out-of-control side of her that we’ve never seen before. The abrupt end of her fling with Will leaves her with both extra energy and ample anguish. Is there anyone on earth more in need of a kickboxing class? Photo: JEFFREY NEIRA/?2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.
A villain who smokes? You’re better than that, Downton. Thomas is so cartoonishly evil that the only thing he’s missing is a mustache to twirl, and it betrays what the show does so well, which is unpack and illuminate the tiny day-to-day indignities, cruelties, and occasional kindnesses that we all impose or bestow on each other. Little things like curtseys or gloves take on such importance that something as glaring as being The Smoker stands out even more. If the show’s able to make Mary lovable, despite her bad behavior, it should be able to make Thomas (and O’Brien) hateable without slipping into parody.
Park has been a surprising breath of fresh air at Princeton Plainsboro, and Yi lends her a credible, endearing weirdness that’s rare on television (and even rarer for female characters). Much like Taub before her, though, she deserves more story — and more story that doesn’t involve Chase. House gets claustrophobic with its entanglements, planting too many flowers into one little pot. Give Park room to spread out some roots; the show’s desperate for a new vein of emotion.
The show doesn’t have to become some kind of referendum on the one percent. But it would be okay if, every once in a while, the show acknowledged the characters’ obvious wealth and privilege, even a little bit. Plus, Family is at its strongest when the extended Pritchet-Dunphy clan focuses on one endeavor together, and some sort of extended-family awakening toward social responsibility beyond Claire’s fleeting desire for public office fits the bill. Photo: Peter “Hopper” Stone/? 2011 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
Community returns to the NBC lineup immediately. Okay: Community still hasn’t quite solved its Chevy Chase problem, and the study group’s open hostility toward its eldest member still stings a little. Pierce is loathsome, certainly, but his character is more fun than that, too. A student group of “Reformed Neo-Buddhists” maybe? Community gets so much mileage from inverting its character tropes, like when Abed became Abatman. Pierce deserves a Batman moment. Photo: Lewis Jacobs/? NBC Universal, Inc.
Poor Teddy. Just when it seemed like she — and we, the audience — found happiness, there went the cruel hand of death, snatching Scott Foley up to Seattle Grace’s special wing of heaven. Grey’s does melodrama as melodramatically as it gets, but the show can’t revert to being just a carnival of agony. Callie’s funny, Cristina’s funny, Bailey’s funny — let Teddy be funny, too, and make sure the show still has a little bit of levity. Photo: Richard Cartwright/? 2011 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
“Better” here only in Taco’s warped idea of healthy eating — we’d hate to see him suddenly on the actual straight and narrow, but any episode about Taco’s unusual ideas about metabolism is a treat. Taco’s bizarre habits are an endless source of mirth on The League, but “The Out of Towner,” in which Taco ate only super-processed foods and became ill, demonstrated that the show has potential to move from just silliness to ocassional social commentary. Taco’s ritualized diets and frequent obsessions are ridiculous, certainly, but sometimes they don’t seem that much more ridiculous than any other kind of ritual or obsession, especially on a show about fantasy football.
Remember school? There were so many plays, and competitions, and Judy Garland specials, and football games, and gay bars, and reasons to have sex, and teachers getting engaged, and bullies, and there was one other thing that kept happening … hmmm … what was that … Oh yeah. Classes! Wouldn’t it be amazing if the students of McKinley High actually learned something, and not just how to make karaoke ballads seem like punishment?
New Year’s Resolutions for Your Favorite TV Characters