Why do women fall for bad boys? Well, let's see: They're willful and self-determined; by nature, rebellious; wicked and mischievous; undeniable and sexy; and sometimes, even dangerous. What's not to love?

The following are my ten all-time favorite bad boys of television, and let me tell you, it was difficult to narrow it down. These are characters that distinguish what the difference is between a guy, and a man. I find them endlessly entertaining, and at times, incredibly amusing or heartbreaking. In their own distinct ways, they've pushed the boundaries of television towards more three dimensional depictions, owed in large part to the gifted writers and actors that bring them to life.

10) JACK BOURDAIN: "Recipe for failure: Take one part natural talent, two parts stellar education, mix with easy success and a generous helping of booze, drugs, and women... and immediately set it on fire." --- Jack Bourdain (Bradley Cooper in 'Kitchen Confidential')

Before Bradley Cooper became the film star that he is today, nominated for a Best Actor Oscar in 'Silver Linings Playbook', he had his start in television. His first appearance was in an episode of 'Sex and the City'. Then he gained recognition for portraying Sydney Bristow's closest friend, Will Tippin, in the hit series 'Alias'. Shortly before his segue into movies, he was cast as the lead in 'Kitchen Confidential', a hilarious and fast-paced comedy executive-produced by Darren Star. The series is based on real-life executive chef, Anthony Bourdain, and his best-selling autobiography. If you haven't seen this show yet, be sure to check it out on DVD. Here's a funny clip.

9) PATRICK MAITLAND: "She has ruled out at any point in the future, the possibility of a threesome. How can a relationship survive without hope?... A relationship is a loving bond between two people and a threesome can take the edge off that." --- Patrick Maitland (Ben Miles in the British series, 'Coupling')

Steven Moffat used his comedic genius to create 'Coupling', a series about humorous situations that arise out of power struggles in newly formed relationships. Though the show was compared to 'Friends' and even spun off an American version that failed, I enjoyed the first three seasons with the original cast because it was smart, insightful, and not even close to anything politically correct. The show introduced amusing concepts and terms such as "the giggle loop", "nudity buffer", "the melty man" and "the cupboard of Patrick's love". Check out a pivotal scene between Patrick and Sally, where their friendship is on the cusp of becoming much more.

8) THE DEVIL: "Sammy, punishing souls is like raising children. They need consistency. And you can't reward bad behavior. They step out of line, you just have to give them a time-out in the closet of abysmal agony." --- The Devil (Ray Wise in 'Reaper')

Imagine it's your twenty-first birthday, only to find out that your parents sold your soul to the Devil. Now you're under contract as his bounty hunter to capture escaped souls from Hell for the rest of your sorry, natural life. Throw in a miserable day job at "The Work Bench", a crush on a friend and co-worker that you can't bring yourself to ask out, two buds who are just as clueless as you are, and hijinks ensue. Take a look at the promo for this clever, laugh-a-minute thrill ride.

7) STEPHEN COLBERT: "I stand by this man. I stand by this man, because he stands for things. Not only for things; he stands ON things -- things like aircraft carriers, and rubble, and recently flooded city squares. And that sends a strong message, that no matter what happens to America, she will always rebound with the most powerfully staged photo-ops in the world." --- Stephen Colbert ('The Colbert Report' at the White House Correspondents' Dinner)

It's to the great credit of Stephen Colbert's brilliance as a writer, actor, and satirist that so many politicians don't realize that he's acting the part of a conservative on 'The Colbert Report'. Their confusion is what allows the host to skewer, ambush, mock, and lampoon them time and again in interviews, at Congressional hearings, and even at the 2006 White House Correspondents' Dinner. His show has been nominated for three Emmys, he was listed on Time's '100 Most Influential People' in 2006 and 2012, and his book "I Am America (And So Can You!)" was at the top of The New York Times Best Sellers list. Check out his entire speech at the White House Correspondents' Dinner, where he boldly roasts journalists and the Bush admininstration.

6) MR. BIG in 'Sex and the City'
Carrie: " Well never mind what I want. What do you want?"
Mr. Big: "I don't know; let's save an hour. Why don't you just tell me what I want."

A true man's man, Mr. Big appeals to female audiences in a way that few male characters have ever accomplished. Chris Noth was perfectly cast for the part: he infused his role with charm, humor, experience and sophistication, all with a twinkle in his eye and a smile that could defuse almost any situation. His insight into his character: "The negotiations of intimacy can be difficult for men who have established themselves -- how far they'll go before they feel like they are compromising their own life but still wanting to include someone in it." Here's a tribute to Carrie and Mr. Big's love affair.

5) SAM WINCHESTER: "I'm gonna rip you apart from the inside out. Do you understand me?" --- Sam Winchester to Lucifer (Jared Padalecki in 'Supernatural')

This was one of those rare shows that I was excited for, prior to the premiere of the pilot. As soon as I watched the opening sequence, I was hooked. The imagery was powerfully atmospheric, and the circumstances of a loving family of four, being attacked in their home at night by a force beyond their comprehension, was absolutely heartbreaking. Watch it, and you'll see exactly what I mean.

From there, the series focuses on Sam and his older brother, Dean, and how their family of three (with a mostly absent father) became hunters for all things that prey on humans. But their primary goal is to hunt down the yellow-eyed demon responsible for the horror of that fateful night. Though the show gained a larger audience with the introduction of angels in its fourth season, I favor the first three because the stand alone stories were quite creepy and scary, and the bond between the brothers and their father created some of the best hours on television that I have ever witnessed. Be sure to check this one out from the beginning.

4) RILEY FINN: "I suddenly find myself needing to know the plural of apocalypse." --- Riley Finn (Marc Blucas in 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer')

Though diehard fans have long professed their love for either Angel or Spike as Buffy's suitors, my unswerving loyalty belongs to Riley. Some viewed him as too wholesome, a stark contrast to the vampires (including Dracula) that Buffy was inevitably attracted to, in spite of the risk and danger that they posed to the heroine. But I have to disagree with the assessment that Riley was too much of a "nice" guy. In fact, he was almost the ideal boyfriend for Buffy, though she couldn't see this for herself until it was too late. 

For one, Riley led a double life as well, originally. He had to keep his cover as a soldier in "The Initiative" a secret, and had extensive combat training, just like Buffy. Secondly, Riley's human, which is a big plus because he can actually spend time with her in the daylight (which made his offering of a picnic all the more sweet). And despite Angel's and Spike's declarations of love (they're demons, people!), neither came close to the level of commitment that Riley entrusted to Buffy, both emotionally and physically. But in the end, she wasn't able to reciprocate the devotion that he felt for her, and because Riley couldn't understand her longing to be with vampires, he allowed himself to be bitten, which led him down a dark path that turned into addiction. A very tragic, and at times, painfully honest love story.

3) DON DRAPER: "I have a life. And it only goes in one direction. Forward." --- Don Draper (Jon Hamm in 'Mad Men')

It's no coincidence that Don Draper ended up in advertising, because what he does for a living is a direct reflection of the truth about his identity: It's built on a lie. This doesn't mean that Don is an unsympathetic character; quite the contrary. In fact, it's entirely relatable that someone wants --- needs, to escape the family that he was born into, and through a course of events (including an accidental death in the military) is able to completely reinvent himself. In doing so, Don inadvertantly becomes the poster boy for the American Dream achieved.

Even still, as time wears on, the line between truth and continual lying start to blur. A man's character is not defined by what he thinks or where he came from, but by his actions. And it's because of this that Don is in a perpetual struggle between his desire to become a better man, and his habit of cold indifference to people and their circumstances. For too long, Don had been able to escape the heavy consequences of his actions through the strength of his denial. In addition to this, he also gets what he wants (including women) whenever he wants it, so there's no real motivation for concrete change. His ultimate gift (and perhaps the impetus for an eventual downfall), is how much control he exerts over others, as evidenced by his carousel pitch to Kodak. Though it's a beautiful and touching scene, it's just like Don to use his family as a means to further his goals at work. 

2) SHANE WALSH: "It ain't hard, man. The right choice is the one that keeps us alive." --- Shane Walsh (Jon Bernthal in 'The Walking Dead')

If you've read my write-up on 'The Walking Dead', then you already know the reasons why Shane is one of my all-time favorite characters in television. I must admit, the new season doesn't feel nearly as exciting without Jon Bernthal. That's exactly why I'm thrilled that he and Frank Darabont (creator and previous showrunner of 'The Walking Dead') will be returning to television this year with the crime drama, 'Mob City'. The series chronicles the true story of L.A. Police Chief, William Parker, and his department's decade long war (in the 1940's and 1950's) against Mickey Cohen and his gangster pals. The talented supporting cast includes Robert Knepper, Jeffrey DeMunn, Neal McDonough, Milo Ventimiglia, Alexa Davalos, and guest star, Simon Pegg. The pilot was picked up, and TNT subsequently ordered a six episode first season. The series premieres on Wednesday, December 4th.

Check out this great tribute to Shane Walsh in 'The Walking Dead'.

1) DEXTER MORGAN: "Am I a good person doing 'bad' things... or a bad person doing 'good' things?" --- Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall in 'Dexter')

That's the million dollar question, isn't it? What I love about the series, is the incredibly intelligent approach to the material. Life is not so easily defined; in truth, we all live in shades of grey. We all have secrets, and most of us carefully pick and choose which parts of our personalities to display, depending on the particular situation or the person. 

People who have never watched the show, or are critical about it are correct about one thing: It's not for everyone. It's a graphic drama (with dark comedic undertones at times), given the subject matter. But a large part of the appeal, is because it's adult entertainment, based loosely on a series of bestselling novels by Jeff Lindsey.

What makes Dexter so thoroughly engaging, sympathetic, and likeable, is because he's unlike any serial killer that exists in reality. As a very young child, he witnessed his mother's brutal murder and ended up adopted by the police officer who found him on the scene. As Dexter grows up, Harry begins to see signs that his childhood trauma left lasting repercussions. But since he was a homicide detective, he made the decision to teach Dexter a code to live by. At first, Harry believed that he was doing the right thing because he felt that Dexter's impulses could not be curbed or cured. He loved his adoptive son; perhaps even more so than his own daughter.

And thus, one of the most provocative anti-heroes was born. A serial killer who worked for the Miami Police Department by day as a blood spatter analyst, and by night, hunted the miscreants that either avoided or fell through the criminal justice system. As Jeff Lindsey himself has said: "There is a moral ambiguity to it. Yes, killing is always wrong, no matter what. On the other hand, aren't there really some people that deserve it?" In Dexter's world: Yes. Yes, they do.

Check out this wickedly good scene between Dexter and Doakes.

© Zoey Francis and Zen For Zoey, 2017. Unauthorized use, duplication, and/or alteration of this material without express and written permission from this blog's author/owner is strictly prohibited. All photos owned by studios/networks are covered under "Fair Use", as the purpose of this blog is for commentary only and is entirely not-for-profit.


View comments