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Who'd they play best? – Part two: 16 more TV actors and their top role

After our original Who’d They Play Best list, it was clear we had only scratched the surface of this fun—and pleasantly debatable—topic. So, here’s the sequel! A fresh list of TV actors and their top roles, as picked by the EW Community.

This time, we compare characters played by Mayim Bialik, David Boreanaz, Claire Danes, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Nathan Fillion, Lauren Graham, Tia Mowry-Hardrict, Neil Patrick Harris, Taraji P. Henson, Joshua Jackson, Mindy Kaling, Ed O’Neill, Harold Perrineau, Katey Sagal, Adam Scott, and Ming-Na Wen.

Remember—there can only be one winner!

Mayim Bialik:
Blossom Russo (Blossom, 1990–1995) vs.
Amy Farrah Fowler (Big Bang Theory, 2010–present)

Mayim Bialik

Before Sheldon Cooper met his match in Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler, Mayim Bialik played adorkable nineties teen Blossom Russo. Fashion-forward and feisty, she and her best friend Six did their best to maneuver their way through adolescence while dealing with real issues and broken homes. After getting her real-life Ph.D. in neuroscience, Bialik joined the cast of The Big Bang Theory as a nerdy neuroscientist who awkwardly charms her way into the group and Sheldon’s heart. While Blossom’s great for a nostalgic warm fuzzy, Amy’s awkward honesty and loving perseverance makes her our winner. Now if only Sheldon would let her get as lucky!
Winner: Amy Farrah Fowler.Terri Clark

David Boreanaz:
Angel (Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel, 1997–2004) vs.
Sealy Booth (Bones, 2005–present)

David Boreanaz

Booth’s been around for 10 years (and counting). He’s a former military sniper-turned FBI agent with an airtight moral code—something he’s only willing to breach when his friends and family are in peril. But he’s no Angel. For starters, this brooding vampire with a heart of gold poetically fell in love with the vampire slayer. Right up there with Kelly Taylor, Angel has suffered a lot. Death. Hell. Gypsy curses. Love. Becoming a puppet. And yet, he perseveres—fighting the good fight, always primed to “help the helpless.” Cult status achieved.
Winner: Angel (vampires live forever).Joanna Skrabala

Claire Danes:
Angela Chase (My So-Called Life, 1994–1995) vs.
Carrie Mathison (Homeland, 2011–present)

Claire Danes

Angela Chase was the voice and image of a generation. From her (mostly) unrequited affection for Jordan Catalano to her Manic Panic–red hair, Claire Danes portrayed teen angst in a realistic and unaffected manner that resonated with viewers. Carrie Mathison is a tightly wound, reckless, and bipolar career woman who finds herself torn between career obligations and personal impulses. The only thing the two characters have in common is Danes and her amazing signature “crumble cry” face.
Winner: Nostalgia edge to Angela Chase.Karen Belgrad

Julia Louis-Dreyfus:
Elaine Benes (Seinfeld, 1990–1998) vs.
Christine Campbell (The New Adventures of Old Christine, 2006–2010) vs.
Selena Meyer (Veep, 2012–present)

Julia Louis-Dreyfus

In a word, this pick should be easy, right? Because Elaine is part of the incomparable pop-culture phenomenon Seinfeld—a fictional world that launched a million phrases (“shrinkage” and “double-dip”) and poked fun at real-life annoyances (“close-talker”)—she wins. That being said, Veep‘s Selina Meyer is well on her way to verifying herself as one of the best characters on TV. We follow Selina as the foul-mouthed, hapless Vice Prez/Prez as she manages her misfit political staff—and it’s comedy gold. I throw Christine in for (little) kicks. She’s a hysterical mess that pretty much always fails at life—and loves wine. In other words, she’s relatable. It’s just continued proof that Julia Louis-Dreyfus is a national treasure.
Winner: Elaine Benes (for now). –Joanna Skrabala

Nathan Fillion:
Malcom Reynolds (Firefly, 2002–2003) vs.
Richard Castle (Castle, 2009–present)

Nathan Fillion

I feel like this is too easy, because it has to be Firefly. Nathan’s time as Captain Malcolm Reynolds is so incredibly perfect that, given the choice, even Richard Castle dresses up as him!

Not that Fillion can’t do other roles incredibly well, but Captain Mal will always be his number-one rogue.
Winner: Malcolm Reynolds.Geek Girl Diva

Lauren Graham:
Lorelai Gilmore (Gilmore Girls, 2000–2007) vs.
Sarah Braverman (Parenthood, 2010–2015)

Lauren Graham

Lorelai Gilmore and Sarah Braverman have a lot in common: they are both strong, single moms who work to build a better life for themselves (with help from their families). But Lorelai’s life is small-town charm, while Sarah’s is a little more complicated. Lorelai and her daughter, Rory, are best friends. Sarah struggles to keep her two angsty teens under control. Parenthood is a powerful, ensemble drama, made all the better by Graham’s performance, but Gilmore Girls and Lorelai Gilmore are integral parts of the fabric of pop culture today.
Winner: Lorelai Gilmore. –Samantha Swank

Tia Mowry-Hardrict:
Tia Landry (Sister, Sister, 1994–1999) vs.
Melanie Barnett (The Game, 2006–2012) vs.
Stephanie Phillips (Instant Mom, 2013–2015)

Tia Mowry-Hardrict

Tia Mowry-Hardrict has played some amazing characters. From being Melanie “Med School” Barnett on the hit series, The Game, to currently playing a young stepmom on Instant Mom, Tia continues to make us laugh. However, no role will ever be as great as when she played Tia Landry on Sister, Sister in the ’90s. Alongside her sister, Tamera Mowry-Housley, Tia made us laugh, cry, and smile in this family comedy. Tia was the brainier twin, but always found herself in some scheme with her sister. No matter what role she does, she’ll always be Tia Landry to me.
Winner: Tia Landry.Zakiya Jamal

Neil Patrick Harris:
Doogie Howser (Doogie Howser, M.D., 1989–1993) vs.
Barney Stinson (How I Met Your Mother, 2005–2014)

Neil Patrick Harris

Boy genius Doogie Howser, M.D. donned his stethoscope at 14. Sweet and awkward, he struggled to be a normal teen working in an adult word. In “The Summer of ’91,” he made headlines when he lost his virginity at 18 to longtime girlfriend Wanda Plenn. Fast-forward 14 years to How I Met Your Mother’s Barney Stinson: a charming, serial womanizer who creates painstaking, often laughably ludicrous plays in order to persuade hundreds of women into his bed. Cad and commitment-phobe that he is, Stinson is also a loyal and outrageous friend who can take a slap. That makes him legen—wait-for-it—dary.
Winner: Barney Stinson. –Terri Clark

Taraji P. Henson:
Joss Carter (Person of Interest, 2011–2013) vs.
Cookie Lyons (Empire, 2014–present)

Taraji P. Henson

Henson’s time as Joss Carter on Person of Interest was definitely amazing, and Joss is a strong, powerful, smart character –– but something tells me even Carter would have to concede that, pound for pound, Cookie Lyons is just too fierce to be anything but the number-one lady in Taraji P. Henson’s repertoire.
Winner: Cookie Lyons. –Geek Girl Diva


Joshua Jackson:
Pacey Witter (Dawson’s Creek, 1998–2003) vs.
Peter Bishop (Fringe, 2008–2013)

Joshua Jackson

Joshua Jackson’s charm elevated Pacey Witter from wise-cracking sidekick to alternative leading man, someone girls (and teachers!) could pine for when Dawson’s melodrama was too much. Both characters had difficult childhoods, and later reunited with estranged fathers. Jackson infused both men with sarcasm and a charismatic grin. But where Pacey was a scrappy underdog with a romantic side, the brilliant Peter Bishop was often too logical to love. Even though he evolved into a loyal son, husband, and father risking his life for mankind, I’d rather sail around the world with Pacey than fight The Watchers in a dismal future prison-world.
Winner: Pacey Witter.Wendy Hathaway

Mindy Kaling:
Kelly Kapoor (The Office, 2005–2013) vs.
Mindy Lahiri (The Mindy Project, 2012–present)

Mindy Kaling

As Kelly Kapoor on The Office, Mindy Kaling wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, but her boy-crazy, politically incorrect attitude never failed to make us laugh. Kaling graduated from member of the ensemble cast/writing crew to star on her own show as Mindy Lahiri The Mindy Project. Created by Kaling, TMP gave Mindy the opportunity to be a strong, intelligent, successful OB/GYN—while still boy crazy and politically incorrect, and capable of making us laugh till our sides hurt. Kaling slays in both roles, but the office chock full of eccentric personalities made it hard for Mindy to shine as much as she does on The Mindy Project.
Winner: Mindy Lahiri. –Tamar Barbash

Ed O’Neill:
Al Bundy (Married with Children, 1987–1997) vs.
Jay Pritchett (Modern Family, 2009–present)

Ed O

After 11 seasons as the iconic Al Bundy in Married…With Children, many thought Ed O’Neill would be forever trapped on the couch with a hand in his pants. But he’s proved the critics wrong as Modern Family‘s dry and sarcastic Jay Pritchett. While O’Neill’s Jay is a bit more nuanced and interesting, his portrayal of Al edges him out. Why? A number of actors could have played Jay. Nobody else could have played Married‘s cantankerous, iconic dad. And in a show that gave birth to future off-color yet honest sitcoms, you have to give props to the original distasteful dad.
Winner: Al Bundy. –Bill Tucker

Harold Perrineau:
Augustus Hill (Oz, 1997–2003) vs.
Michael Dawson (Lost, 2004–2008)

Harold Perrineau

Would you rather be trapped on a malevolent, unmappable island, or in a maximum-security prison? Harold Perrineau has done both: first as Augustus Hill, an inmate at Oswald Correctional Facility, and later as Michael Dawson, an unlucky father whose plane crash-landed on The Island. Lost is the more iconic show, but Augustus is the more memorable character. For six seasons, he guided viewers through Oz‘s complex, ever-changing social hierarchies, while serving as the show’s narrator/gatekeeper (even after he was killed off in season five). Both ensembles benefited from Perrineau’s performances, but Oz owes him more.
Winner: Augustus Hill. –Ariel Kay

Katey Sagal:
Peg Bundy (Married with Children, 1987–1997) vs.
Gemma Teller Morrow (Sons of Anarchy, 2008–2014)

Katey Sagal

One actress, and two matriarchs that couldn’t possibly be any more different. Peg Bundy wanted for material possessions and her husband’s libido, and little else. Driven more by a love of all things Lycra, Peg’s kids are little more than an afterthought to her self-absorption. Gemma Teller Morrow would take Peggy down before the big-haired redhead could even reach for the Aqua Net. Gemma’s only motivation in life is “the family,” and she did whatever she deemed necessary to validate her decisions—even kill her own daughter-in-law—cementing her own fate in the process.
Winner: Gemma.Karen Belgrad

Adam Scott:
Henry Pollard (Party Down 2009–2010) vs.
Ben Wyatt (Parks and Recreation 2010–2015)

Adam Scott

Henry and Ben both entered their respective shows carrying the shame of a previous defeat—for Henry, a failed acting career, for Ben, a disastrous two-month mayorship. While underachieving, Henry was the glue that held the wacky group of Party Down caterers together—which was just a warm-up for Scott’s far more iconic turn as Ben Wyatt. The calzone-loving, claymation “movie” making, Cones of Dunshire creating, and eventual best husband ever to Leslie Knope always managed to be charming, funny, and serious all at once. And, according to his wife, he has a pretty cute butt.
Winner: Ben Wyatt. –Erin Conley

Ming-Na Wen:
Dr. Jing-Mei “Deb” Chen (ER, 1995–2004) vs.
Melinda May (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., 2013–present)

Ming-Na Wen

An ace pilot and expert in weapons, martial arts, and combat, S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Melinda May is respected—and slightly feared—by her colleagues. An unwavering perfectionist, she’s a hard nut to crack, but is loyal to the end, doing almost anything to protect her friends and fellow agents. Dr. Chen was a far more flawed character. Mistakes in the ER almost cost Chen her career, first as a hyper-competitive med student, then as Chief Resident, and she constantly struggled to be seen as an authority figure and to develop relationships with many of her co-workers.
Winner: Melinda May.Wendy Hathaway

Phew! How’d we do? Did your favorites make this cut? Let us know!

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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