They say that misery loves company — and the networks are banking on it, as it could be argued that TV has never had more unhappy, self-loathing, endearingly miserable characters than it does now.
Could it be because we live in a “woe is me” age when everyone seems to shout their previously-withheld complaints from the social media rooftops? Could it be because politics, economics and modern-day dating offer daily fodder for pessimism? Or could it just be because miserable people are funny?
Whatever the reason, here are a handful of our favorite miserable characters on TV. Because the crankier they get, the happier they make us.
Mindy Lahiri (Mindy Kaling)
The most recent season of “The Mindy Project” had the OB-GYN struggling in her relationship with Danny (Chris Messina), realizing that “happily ever after” doesn’t really exist. In the eyes of many, the show took a dark turn as Mindy discovered that maybe Danny wasn’t the right guy for her after all. Luckily, Kaling’s intrinsic likeability kept the show from turning into an Ingmar Bergman film, but some fans are undoubtedly hoping that the final Season 4 moments of Mindy and Danny reconnecting in the elevator is an indication of happier days to come.
Julie Kessler (Julie Klausner) and Billy Epstein (Billy Eichner)
Hulu’s “Difficult People” is based on a concept as old as comedy itself: Miserable people, making those around them even more miserable to make themselves feel better, is funny. For two seasons now, the characters played by Klausner and Eichner have looked down on others, mocked society and made us laugh doing it. Much like the “Seinfeld” gang, they seem blissfully unaware of their own unhappiness — instead convinced that they’re the only sane people in a world filled with crazies.
BoJack Horseman (Will Arnett)
BoJack likes to complain, a lot — about how his career isn’t what it used to be, about his failure in inter-species relationships, about his own substance-abuse issues. Lucky for us, he’s an animated horse on a cleverly-written cartoon show, so you can feel free to watch it happily, even if there happens to be a razor blade within reach.
Rachel Goldberg (Shiri Appleby)
A reality TV producer working for a boss with highly-questionable methods, Rachel manipulates and deceives for a living. In some ways, the character’s worst trait is what many would consider a good thing: She has a conscience, and it frequently leaves her conflicted — which makes her really, really miserable. Of course, this isn’t helped by her man problems, which frequently impact what she’s putting before the camera on “UnREAL.”
Larry David (Larry David)
Is “Curb Your Enthusiasm” even still on the air? According to Larry David in June, it is. If so, that reinforces his status as the current (and possibly all-time) most miserable character on television. Over eight seasons, Larry has found ways to anger everyone around him, find the dark lining in every sunny sky and be miserable despite the fact that he’s the multi-millionaire creator of one of the most beloved sitcoms ever made.
At this moment, millions of “Curb” fans are hoping that Larry David will follow through on his promise to return for a ninth season. In the meantime, the anticipation is making us all … well, miserable.