HBO is known for many things: high production values, critical adoration, big stars. But with the return of Eastbound & Down Sunday night (finally!), it’s becoming clear that HBO has another calling card: assholes. (Polite term: antiheroes. But really, assholes.) Every show’s got one — they’re like opinions that way — but not all of HBO’s assholes are playing in the same league. Here, we rank the central assholes of HBO’s current programming in ascending order, starting with the least assholic and ending with the most. We’d give the winner an award, but he’d likely just make us feel bad that the trophy wasn’t bigger.
8. True Blood asshole: Eric (Alexander Skarssgard)
Especially in early seasons, Eric was a suave jerk, a sexual predator, a captor, and a torturer — but goddamn, that is one good-looking jerk. As the show’s gone on, he’s shown a slightly softer side, and his pouty “Sookie” is far sweeter than Bill’s huffy pronunciation.
7. Luck asshole: Ace (Dustin Hoffman)
Temperamental, vengeful, scheming, Hoffman’s Ace is definitely using vinegar, not honey, to deal with his fellow track flies. He’s also a wounded, guarded guy, who’s been wronged by a lot of people, and is maybe brusque because he has to be.
6. Boardwalk Empire asshole: Nucky (Steve Buscemi)
Nucky’s a complex villain, certainly; a murderer, a manipulator, an ice-cold businessman. He’s dangerous and frightening, yes, but he’s incredibly polite, and seems unlikely to disgrace himself with pettiness, particularly when there are important betrayals to watch out for.
5. Curb Your Enthusiasm asshole: Larry (Larry David)
Oy. The Larry David character is the single clearest example of the assholious neutoriticus subgenus of asshole. He’s self-obsessed and often unkind, quick to criticize and slow to praise, myopic and close-minded about almost everything. He’s funny and wonderful and is the world’s nebbishy Jewish father figure, but man, that guy can be a real piece of work.
4. Enlightened asshole: Dougie (Tim Sharpe)
There’s a special circle of jerkwad hell reserved for sexual harassers, and Dougie’s headed there someday. He’s needlessly nasty and belittling, insecure to the point of panic-induced cruelty.
3. Treme asshole: Emotional entropy prompted by poverty, hopelessness, and depression
The worst part is that it’s cyclical and chronic! You can’t win. Social injustice: what an asshole.
2. Eastbound & Down asshole: Kenny Powers (Danny McBride)
Kenny Powers is racist, sexist, homophobic, greedy, selfish, prone to throwing food at people, unkind to children, spiteful, and egomaniacal. He is made of magic.
And HBO’s biggest asshole is …
1. Game of Thrones asshole: Prince Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson)
Joffrey is the worst. The worst. And he’s surrounded to by other characters who are often pretty awful. (We’re looking at you, Cersei.) But Joffrey takes the crown here — and in Westeros! — by executing his girlfriend’s father, after promising not to. No wonder everyone wants to slap him continuously.