As chock-full of nuts as the Happy Endings ensemble is, it┬'s easy to underestimate how endearingly cracked this blonde bombshell makes runaway bride Alex. But you┬'ve gotta give it up for her: Not only is she unafraid to get dirty (see: any scene involving ribs in ┬"Like Father, Like Gun┬"), she gamely poked fun at the ridiculousness of the infamous stalked-by-a-cougar storyline that 24 once handed her.
Evan Peters, American Horror Story
C┬'mon, admit it. Even before you found out that American Horror Story┬'s Tate Langdon was the instantly iconic Rubber Man, he made the hairs stand up on the back of your neck. A scene-stealing showstopper on par with Jessica Lange he may not be ┬– who is? ┬– but damned if the kid doesn┬'t break your heart even as you worry that he might just rip it out of ya!
Eva Longoria, Desperate Housewives
We know what you┬'re thinking: Haven┬'t all the Desperate Housewives gotten their due by now? Maybe. But maybe not. Because it wasn┬'t until this year, when the hype surrounding the show was as much history as Mary Alice Young, that this daytime grad got a genuinely meaty storyline: Turns out, flighty Gabrielle Solis was a victim of child abuse who covered up the murder of her abuser. Yikes! And by ┬"Yikes!┬" we mean ┬"Brava!┬"
Kathleen Rose Perkins, Episodes
When you watch Episodes for a second time ┬– and you will; it is that good ┬– and you┬'re finally done guffawing at Daisy Haggard┬'s facial expressions as Myra Licht, reconsider the actress behind network exec Carol Rance, would ya? She mixes pragmatism, delusion and self-loathing into the kind of tragic cocktail that will forever eradicate from your head any notion of pursuing a career in showbiz.
Neil Flynn, The Middle
Let┬'s face it: The Middle, like life, is all about the kids. And when it isn┬'t, it┬'s generally about Patricia Heaton┬'s harried working mom, Frankie Heck, herself a big kid, complete with tirades and tantrums. And you know what? That only makes us ┬– some of us, anyway ┬– appreciate all the more this Scrubs vet and his grounding presence as big daddy Mike.
Jon Bernthal, The Walking Dead
Since Shane Walsh on The Walking Dead has been aggressive with Lori even after she was reunited with his BFF, Rick┬… since he┬'s made a hell of the haven the survivors had found at Hershel┬'s farm┬… since he freakin┬' sacrificed poor Otis┬… it would be easy ┬– real easy ┬– to just plain hate the character. But, thanks to the layers of loss on which the actor ┬– and, to their credit, the show┬'s writers ┬– have built his outbursts, as much as we regret it, we kinda understand where he┬'s coming from. Genius.
Dan Byrd, Cougar Town
If Cougar Town ever really makes it back to the screen perhaps we won┬'t have to remind you of how unsung a hero this second banana is. Yes, compared the the series┬' wine-soaked ┬"adults,┬" his Travis Cobb is kind of a stick in the mud. But his portrayer is so self-aware ┬– and aware, period ┬– that he makes him a stick in the mud with whom we wouldn┬'t so much mind being stuck in the mud. Cheers to that!
Gabriel Mann, Revenge
Yes, yes, Revenge hinges on the bitches. We know. But, in the end, is any character bitchier ┬– or more helplessly pathetic ┬– than Nolan Ross? He┬'s all bark, no bite, and, in this Bieber-headed actor┬'s capable hands, we want to pet him at the exact same time as we want to send him to obedience school. A true original.
Gillian Jacobs, Community
Theoretically, because NBC seems intent on treating Community like an Office that never had a Steve Carell, anyone from the cast could┬'ve made this list. But, since Alison Brie (Annie) has sorta emerged as the show┬'s leading lady ┬– and funnily so ┬– we┬'re feeling a little bad for her fair-haired counterpart. Besides, to overlook her, on this, of all lists, would be tantamount to ┬"pulling a Britta.┬" Wouldn┬'t it? (PS We┬'d go on about how much we love ┬– no, worship ┬– Yvette Nicole Brown┬'s Shirley, too, but by now, she, you and everyone in between knows.)
Allie Grant, Suburgatory
There are fireworks that couldn┬'t hold their own in a scene with Suburgatory┬'s Ana Gasteyer. And maybe, on some level, this relative newbie knows it. Because, as Lisa Shay, she rarely goes for the explosion. Instead, she goes for the implosion, dishing out reactions that sometimes barely manifest in her furrowed brow or her rebellious smile. Reactions that we don┬'t just look for or hope for but, when we get them, we flat-out treasure.