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Top TV Mates: Pick Of The Pals

Defining a good friend is hard. Depending on what you wish to gain from a friendship, your chosen companion’s duties can vary. Some friendships are very intense and rely heavily on having each others’ backs, whereas some are as casual as can be.

TV friendships drive storylines and build seemingly realistic relationships for the audience at home. We can sympathise when someone is let down by his or her TV pal, and similarly we can empathise with most of the relationship’s highs and lows. To celebrate beautiful friendships everywhere, here’s a collection of THN’s top TV mates:

Jean Ralphio – PARKS AND RECREATION  (2009-present)

Suave, sophisticated and charming… or so he thinks. Tom Haverford’s delusional right hand man Jean-Ralphio (Ben Schwartz) is a TV pal worth noting. He’s an annoying presence for most within the Parks and Recreation department, but a trusted confidant to Tom (Aziz Ansari).

Jean Ralfio is always ready to jump on the bandwagon of any scheme going and has the money to bank roll it. Despite his douchebag-esque personality and obsession to keep up, and sometimes way ahead of trends, Ralphio’s heart is in the right place most of the time.

Whether you’re looking for a rich friend to sponge off, or a goofy pal to deliver sound advice at the click of a finger, Jean Ralphio is your man.

Milhouse Van Houten – THE SIMPSONS  (1989-present)

Milhouse Van Houten: there when you need him and easy to forget about when you don’t. Granted, there have been occasions when Milhouse’s presence has been missed by Bart, but for the most he can be entirely cast aside from his mind if he’s got other tom foolery on which to concentrate.

Milhouse is a little dweeb who, although a nice enough dork, is lucky to be hanging round with a delinquent as popular in Springfield as Bart Simpson. It would be nigh on impossible to calculate the amount of wedgies, noogies, and pink bellies Milhouse has endured in his time, and props to the wiener for barely complaining once.

Milhouse is the kind of friend you can drag to hell and back, show him an awful time, neglect his feelings and he’ll barely bat an eyelid. A perfect house guest and a pal you can take anywhere and forget about. He is absolutely no fuss and to top it off, he’s 100% reliable. Milhouse will be with you through thick and thin, he might not be much help, but he’ll sure stick it out with you.

Paulie ‘Walnuts’ Gualtieri – THE SOPRANOS (1999-2007)

Played by Tony Sirico, Paulie is a proud Italian-American and eternal lonely heart. A good friend to Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) and one of his most trusted made men. Paulie, although a pest, can pretty much always be depended upon to spring into action to take care of any work Tony feels is beneath him, or that he simply can’t be hoped to do.

Like most of Tony’s cronies Paulie is a force generally not to be reckoned with. Despite being a made man, Paulie is regularly the butt of others’ jokes but still manages to be somewhat of an enigma within the group. His personal life is kept fairly separate and his duties to his annoying mother (or should that be aunt?) take up far too much of his time.

Sure, the guy repeats jokes too often for attention, and yes, he is pretty much the most annoying guy you could be stuck in a snowy forest with, but there’s no denying that Paulie ‘Walnuts’ will always have your back. Unless a better deal comes along, of course.

Stevie Janowski – EASTBOUND AND DOWN (2009-present)

When Stevie Janowski was reunited with Kenny Powers his life was turned upside down. Stevie (Steve Little) worships the ground Kenny (Danny McBride) spits on, and has sees him as some sort of golden God. As gullible, naïve, and possibly mentally challenged as he might be, Stevie’s loyalties as a friend are unquestionable.

Whatever Kenny wants Kenny gets, and understandably this puts strain on Steve’s complicated relationship status as personal assistant/friend. The dynamic of the duo is an entertaining watch but it’s clear to see that Kenny is the bad friend of the two.

Stevie has a heart of gold and watching Kenny kick him to the curb constantly can be hard to stand by and watch. The only saving grace of the situation is that Kenny Powers saved Stevie from a life that, although comfortable, was utterly boring. Stevie gives a lot more than he takes from his friendship, and does so respectfully and professionally. Because Stevie is technically Kenny’s assistant; establishing an actual friendship between them is testing, but there is obviously a bond whether Kenny recognises it or not.

Much like Millhouse, Stevie is pretty lucky to be hanging around with Kenny, and as awful as that sounds it’s true. Stevie is a socially inept schmuck who, without being constantly surrounded by Kenny’s cocky swagger, would still be wasting away, dreaming the dream rather than living it. Sure, Kenny treats like a mutt, but at least he’s showing him a side to life he would never otherwise encounter.

Michael – I’M ALAN PARTRIDGE (1997-2002)

For BBC Radio Norwich DJ Alan Partridge (Steve Coogan), making friends is quite difficult. But thankfully, he found casual companionship in the arms of mild mannered hotel bar man/BP garage attendant/work Geordie, Michael (Simon Greenall).

If all you seek from a friendship is someone who’ll sell you petrol and happily chat to you on a casual, yet consistent basis, then Michael is the pal for you. The relationship between Alan and Michael is great: they’re just two blokes sharing a Ginsters and putting the world to rights, and – when it suits them – maybe watching some films in the static home.

The edge of the garage forecourt is as far as their relationship will usually extend. They have some similar interests, and their temperaments are somewhat matched. More than anything though, Alan just likes having a Geordie he can talk to fill to the empty hours of his day. Michael’s a nice chap who, for the most part, will nod along and feed Alan’s ego when he needs it. But more than that, he’s a BP petrol station attendant to whom Alan considers himself superior.

A little like Kenny Powers, Alan uses Michael as an ego boost. Alan has a far more casual approach to it though. He knows that Michael will always be in a particular place as and when he needs him and certainly won’t hesitate to stop by for a pick me up. Kenny and Alan are similar beasts, but Alan has Michael at a distance. He doesn’t take their encounters too far and neither does Michael… they’re just two men shooting the shit.

And now for the BAD FRIEND….

Super Hans – PEEP SHOW (2003-present) 

Played by Matt King, Super Hans is around when you absolutely don’t want him. He’s a terrible house guest and utterly bereft of moral or social boundaries. Super Hans is the classical bad TV pal.

He’ll steal your junk and stab you in the back just so long as he can somehow come out on top at the other end. Going from scheme to scheme, Super Hans lives a lifestyle similar to that of Kramer from SEINFELD, only in a far more decadent fashion. His lifestyle, however despicable it may be, is quite desirable. Somehow without putting much effort into anything he manages to not only live to a fairly comfortable standard, but does so entirely from the resources of his surrounding friends.

Hans is a party animal like no other and if there’s a way to make a quick buck you can bet he’ll be sniffing around. Before entering a friendship with Super Hans, you have to weigh up whether all the betrayals and mooching are of similar value to his friendship. Mark’s done the calculation and it’s totally not worth it….

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