4YE’s Year in Review: 7 Characters Who Made Me Happy

This year has been a weird one. I’ll be the first one to tell you that. Not only has been it weird personally but, for me, it’s been a weird one in terms of entertainment. I’ve spent most of 2018 visiting films and television series from previous years and currently remain woefully behind on the options given audiences this year. I blame school.

However, despite the fact that I spectacularly failed my movie binge goals this year, and despite the fact I’m behind on films, I have had a good entertainment year. I’ve watched a lot of movies and TV shows that I’ve missed over the years this year, and I don’t regret it. This year has introduced me to a lot of options I had previously sloughed off as uninteresting. So, while some of this list has ties to 2018, most are from a few years behind. Hope that’s okay.

Either way, here are the 7 characters who made me happy this year in my massive binge and my own personal television and movie watching. Yes, most of these characters are males. Apologies. But, I think the three women I included are worth their salt in men. So, there’s that?

  1. Contessina De Medici (Medici: Masters of Florence)


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Medici: Master’s of Florence is a sumptuous, seductive, and beautiful Netflix original series that chronicles the rise of Cosimo De Medici following the death of his father. There is murder, intrigue, and phenomenal acting to appreciate in the show.

I discovered this show earlier this year and immediately fell in love with Contessina De Medici. Known also as Madonna De Medici, Annabel Scholey portrays the character, and I’ve admired her acting since I saw her in Now: In the Wings On a World Stage. In Medici, she easily stands toe to toe with Richard Madden who plays her husband, Cosimo. Not only that, Contessina is perhaps one of the most interesting characters I’ve seen on TV this year.

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Part of Contessina’s appeal is definitely her strength. As a woman in 1400s Italy, she had very little agency, especially seeing as she was the wife of a rich and powerful banker. She was threatened, cheated on, and had to send her beloved husband into exile. Despite all of this, Contessina stood tall and commanded her husband’s empire in his absence and pulled the strings in multiple high profile deals that only secured her family’s wealth and security in Italy at the time.

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Contessina certainly held no punches. She was a strong woman in the middle of a man’s empire. She didn’t let Cosimo walk all over her. She took the power her family connections granted her and turned it around to her advantage. Quick-witted, sharp, and unflinching, Contessina was one of the best female characters I saw this year. Hands down. It only made it better that she was confined in a period piece about one of Italy’s most powerful families. She’s the best. Really.

  1. Jim Hopper (Stranger Things)


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David Harbour is about to explode all over big screens next year. Not only is he the new Hellboy but the new season of Stranger Things is set to be released in the summer of 2019. What better way to spend time in the summer than spending time with our favorite junk food eating sheriff of Hawkins, Indiana Jim Hopper.

Guys, Hopper is my spirit animal and his arc in the first and second seasons of Stranger Things was one of my favorite arcs this entertainment year. He went from prickly to loveable and the best surrogate dad Eleven could possible for.

He’s acerbic. He’s hilarious. He’s heartfelt. Basically, Hopper is the best father/boyfriend/sheriff ever, even if he and Joyce aren’t exactly a couple yet. They better be next season or this girl will riot. I mean, look at him. He’s so soft. Ugh, love him.

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Hopper is everybody and everybody is Hopper. I don’t care what anyone says. His relationships and his playful personality really make him into somebody to root for and a lot of it comes down to Harbour’s portrayal of Hopper. There are multiple different ways that Hopper could have turned out, but the way he is now is one of the best portrayals of a police officer I’ve seen in a long time. Sure, Hopper’s a cop first and foremost, but for me, he isn’t defined by his officer status. He’s defined by his emotional connections and how he can keep them safe. I mean, just look at this gif set below.

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Basically, Hopper is just the best and I defy anyone who says he isn’t the best part of Stranger Things. I legit watch the show just for him and his reactions and his growth as a character. Granted he isn’t the most important part of the show, I definitely think that Jim Hopper is the emotional core and a very important lynchpin. Without Hopper, I’m not sure I’d like Stranger Things as much as I do.

  1. Peter Quill (Guardians of the Galaxy 2)


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Shush. I know. I’m way behind. I haven’t seen Avengers: Infinity War and I might actually get flack from this inclusion because of what happened in the movie involving our favorite Star Lord, but, c’mon. Peter Quill deserves better. The poor guy’s been through a lot and I don’t care what he did or didn’t do in Infinity War. What matters is just how much Quill changes from the first Guardians film to the second.

I discovered Guardians of the Galaxy this year as well. Well, the second one, at least. I wasn’t horribly impressed with the first one when I watched it sometime last year but for some reason Guardians of the Galaxy 2 really struck me on an emotional level. It’s not every day I walk into a Marvel film and come out crying and this one turned on the waterworks and I just have to thank Peter Quill and the marvelous Chris Pratt.

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James Gunn really gave Pratt a lot to chew on in Guardians 2 and Pratt makes it look effortless. Not to mention Quill’s emotional arc and story arc between the first and second film makes his character even more and more interesting. Infinity War aside, I’m pretty sure Peter Quill took over my favorite Marvel character spot pretty quickly after Guardians 2. (Sorry Professor Xavier. Quill’s got my heart at the moment.) Sure, it’s all thanks to Pratt and his humor and his ability to make me cry at the drop of a hat, but still.

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If this little list entry doesn’t bring you back to the Star Lord camp, then I don’t know what to say but, until I see Infinity War, I am protecting this poor Earth child with everything that I have. He’s important to me. He’s important to Marvel and by god, he’s probably one of the coolest outlaws I’ve seen grace my screen. Think what you might, but I’m a Quill fangirl to the end.

  1. Sherlock Holmes and Joan Watson (Elementary)


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I’ve successfully spent the last week of 2018 binging this incredible TV series. I’m on season 6 and am not ready for the show to end. I will admit that when the show was announced way back in 2012, I was skeptical. I’m not a typical Sherlock Holmes fangirl, though. I will admit that my only introduction to the characters includes Guy Ritchie’s 2009 film and BBC’s critically acclaimed Sherlock, but even I was a little amazed that the creators of the show were gender-flipping Watson to an Asian-American woman. The drug-addled detective angle had already been explored in Sherlock so that didn’t bother me but I was fully against CBS for the Watson debacle.

As such, it took me until this year to discover the show, and I am so MAD that I slept on Elementary for as long as I did. So mad. While Cumberbatch and Freeman (and RDJ and Jude Law) introduced me to the characters, something about Elementary really hit me where it hurt and now, for me, Jonny Lee Miller is the quintessential Sherlock Holmes.

I’ve written an article that really voices my thoughts on the Sherlock vs Elementary debate and it all comes down to the differing ways Sherlock is portrayed. Miller crushes it as a far more emotionally precarious Sherlock Holmes, one with nuance and feeling and flaws that definitely didn’t take four seasons and like ten years to just barely develop. From day one Miller’s Sherlock is brilliant and his chemistry with Liu’s Watson is the best platonic man/woman pairing we have to admire at the moment, in my opinion.

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I mean, okay, yes, sure, Joanlock is a thing. Platonic or not, it’s how you personally see the relationship, but their bromance and the way Elementary has developed their bromance is something incredibly special. Joan and Sherlock are two extremely prickly people to everyone but each other, and that is something that makes their relationship, be it romantic or not, really sizzle and really jump off the screen.

That’s something that I feel Sherlock just never really managed to tie down. Maybe it’s because I’m so far removed from Sherlock and Freeman and Cumberbatch’s portrayals but I believe in Joanlock as a friendship more than I believe in Johnlock as a friendship for many different reasons that will just clutter up my list if I attempt to try to explain it. Basically, Liu and Miller do it for me in terms of Holmes adaptations. It’s different. It’s quirky. Sherlock is the best. I don’t know. I just have a lot of feels about these characters.

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If you’re like me and slept on this show for multiple different reasons, don’t continue sleeping on it. Yeah, it’s a procedural. Yeah, it has its problems, but dang if it isn’t some of the best acting I’ve seen and the best Sherlock portrayal I’ve seen as well. I dare you to watch the show and not cry at least once and not have your heart ripped out by Sherlock at least once too. It will happen. Like it or not.

  1. Peter Kavinsky and Lara Jean Covey (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before)


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If you didn’t see this coming…

Peter-the-softest-jock-ever-Kavinsky is the shit. The absolute shit. I dare anyone to say otherwise.

Not only did To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before flip genre tropes on their head, but they also flipped character tropes on their head. Case in point, Noah Centineo as Peter Kavinsky. Y’all, Kavinsky is the boy everyone wants to date or, you know, be if you’re of that persuasion. He’s the best. Hands down. He’s sweet. He’s kind. He’s attentive. He’s, like, your dream boyfriend and, judging by the gifset below, he’s Lara Jean’s dream boyfriend too, which is great because Covinsky is the best ship this year.

Sorry, everyone else who tried. (Though I do have a massive soft spot for the Doctor and Yaz this year too.)

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These two are the softest pair ever. They’re also the best pair ever. I dare anyone to top these two next year. (Though, hopefully, we’ll have more of them next year, depending on when Netflix releases P.S. I Still Love You.) Either way, these two are goals and I am so in love with their love and their chemistry. This was easily the best film I watched this year, period, and I watched a lot this year. Covey and Kavinsky are hashtag perfection in a couple. Really.

They play really well off of each other and Centineo and Lana Condor really crush it as the pair. I couldn’t have asked for a better romantic comedy duo and I’ve seen plenty over my lifetime. These two just worked.

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Not to mention they also happen to have the best facial expressions out of any actor I know. If you watch the movie on Netflix, you’ll see what I mean.

And there you have it! The top seven characters I’ve loved this year! They’ve brought me joy. They’ve brought me smiles. They’ve also brought me heartache. In a year full of emotional ups and downs, it’s only fair that the best characters of the year, in my opinion, do the same.

Have a great New Year’s, 4YEers. See you next year.

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Shelby Arnold

Shelby is currently reviewer extraordinaire for 4YE. She is also currently the co-editor of Arkansas Tech University's paper The Arka Tech. She runs her own movie review blog called Shellin' Out Reviews where she crossposts many of her reviews. She previously was a staff writer at PopWrapped.

Shelby started writing at the age of 13 and has been hooked ever since. She's currently going to school at ATU for Creative Writing and English with a minor in Film Studies. She hopes to one day be a professor of film, a film critic, and a screenwriter. (Can you tell she likes the movies?)

She hopes to walk the red carpet one day. She contributes a long list of friends, co-workers, professors, and writers as the inspiration for her dreams and goals.

You can find Shelby on Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook.
Shelby Arnold
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