Why Bad Actors Do Well on TV

Willa Paskin argues that we learn to accept our TV family, flaws and all
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted May 1, 2012 11:35 AM CDT
Why Bad Actors Do Well on TV
In this undated image released by AMC, January Jones appears in character as Betty Francis from the series "Mad Men," premiering March 25, 2012 at 9 p.m. EST on AMC.   (AP Photo/AMC, Frank Ockenfels)

(Newser) Mad Men is one of TV's best shows, even though January Jones isn't a very good actress. Stana Katic is roughly as bad as the romantic lead on Castle, yet that show's fine, too. "Television is very kind to bad actors," observes Willa Paskin of Salon. "My point here is not to rag on Jones and Katic, so much as marvel at how little their failings have mattered to the shows they work on." Whereas movie actors must dazzle us in two hours, TV stars are in our homes every week—and that's lucky for the mediocre ones.

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"As a show goes on, we start to think of bad acting as a character trait, and stop seeing it as the performer’s lack of skill." To wit, Katic's Kate Beckett is stiff because she's traumatized, "not because Katic can't express feelings and wouldn't have chemistry with a bottle of peroxide." Jerry Seinfeld always laughed at his own jokes, but we've all known someone like that. "Like a friend, relative, or acquaintance who always mumbles … a TV performer is someone audiences can learn to accept, flaws and all." Click to read Paskin's entire column, which names other such lucky TV actors (here's looking at you, Mischa Barton).

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