TV shows with self-absorbed, witty jerks as leads?
March 13, 2022 7:45 PM   Subscribe

My mom has a type when it comes to TV shows. Monk. Lucifer. Dr. House. The title alien from Resident Alien. She likes 'em smart, self absorbed and witty. (Well, I don't know if you can call the latter witty, exactly, but you see the similarity.) Got other shows to recommend?

Things I have tried that she doesn't like: Psych (too goofy). Schitt's Creek (too goofy and Roland Schitt was a deal breaker).
posted by rednikki to Media & Arts (63 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
Not a lead, exactly, but first thing I thought of with those adjectives was Josh Lyman (Bradley Whitford) in West Wing.
posted by sesquipedalia at 7:50 PM on March 13, 2022 [8 favorites]


Best answer: Bones?
posted by kindall at 7:54 PM on March 13, 2022 [2 favorites]


Best answer: Sherlock
posted by rip at 7:54 PM on March 13, 2022 [26 favorites]


Best answer: I only started watching it tonight, but Suits might fill the bill.
posted by kate4914 at 8:00 PM on March 13, 2022 [4 favorites]


Though it's pretty dated now---M*A*S*H.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 8:03 PM on March 13, 2022 [5 favorites]


Doctor Who.
posted by mark k at 8:06 PM on March 13, 2022 [3 favorites]


Best answer: The Good Place, Firefly, Lie to Me, Catastrophe, Boston Legal, Brooklyn 99. Your Mom and I share some favorites; I loved The West Wing, because Aaron Sorkin is an exceptional writer.
posted by theora55 at 8:18 PM on March 13, 2022 [6 favorites]


Better Off Ted
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:18 PM on March 13, 2022 [11 favorites]


Best answer: The Mentalist is a 100% fit. (I am your mum)
posted by idlethink at 8:19 PM on March 13, 2022 [16 favorites]


Best answer: self-absorbed, witty jerks: Castle.
posted by theora55 at 8:20 PM on March 13, 2022 [14 favorites]


Third rock from the Sun.
posted by ellerhodes at 8:24 PM on March 13, 2022 [3 favorites]


Best answer: Community
Psych
Crazy Ex Girlfriend
My Name is Earl
The Good Place
Schitt’s Creek
Ally Mcbeal
Curb Your Enthusiasm
Frasier
Never Have I Ever
Boston Legal

Even thought it doesn’t quite for, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, as the lead is whip smart, very witty, and always gets her way, much like Dr. House.
posted by Champagne Supernova at 8:33 PM on March 13, 2022 [4 favorites]


Please Lie to me - New Zealand comedy drama about self absorbed young gay guy.

Special - young gay guy with cerebral palsy. Second season is better than the first.

Both are on Netflix

Black Books - sitcom about very grumpy owner of second hand bookshop
posted by Zumbador at 8:33 PM on March 13, 2022 [5 favorites]


Both of the leads on Grace and Frankie are self-absorbed, but swing back around to caring about each other at the end of every episode.


Jane the Virgin: IMO the title character Jane is insanely self-absorbed in her 'radical honesty' though she's meant to be mostly sympathetic, but her dad is much funnier being equally and purposefully self-absorbed, and the show really has many leads.

The most self-absorbed character on Schitts Creek is the struggling actress wife, but they don't really focus on her until the later seasons, and Roland is terrible throughout.
posted by The_Vegetables at 8:39 PM on March 13, 2022 [2 favorites]


Best answer: The Great. (for the character of Peter, the co-lead).
posted by Ochre,Hugh at 9:20 PM on March 13, 2022 [7 favorites]


Frasier.
posted by Special Agent Dale Cooper at 9:23 PM on March 13, 2022 [5 favorites]


Best answer: Campion! Older show, but a great variation on this character.
posted by Polycarp at 9:47 PM on March 13, 2022


Best answer: Elementary has a stunning number of similarities to Monk.
posted by sagc at 9:49 PM on March 13, 2022 [9 favorites]


NBC Hannibal? Or Dennis from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia might fit the bill... all the main characters are self-absorbed jerks, but he's really the only witty one.
posted by maighdeann mhara at 9:55 PM on March 13, 2022 [1 favorite]


Best answer: Blackadder, esp. the 2nd and 3rd iterations.
posted by Calvin and the Duplicators at 10:32 PM on March 13, 2022 [11 favorites]


Oh my god how has no one suggested Veep yet? Every person on that show is self-absorbed and terrible, and it’s one of the funniest things I have ever seen. More an ensemble cast than one person lead but trust me: almost all fit the part.

Seconding Elementary, which is *great.*
posted by charmedimsure at 11:02 PM on March 13, 2022 [10 favorites]


Oof. Your mom and I have the same type… except mine are IRL.

Don Draper from Mad Men works too.
posted by nathaole at 11:32 PM on March 13, 2022 [2 favorites]


Girls
posted by amtho at 11:44 PM on March 13, 2022


Bull
posted by rhizome at 12:09 AM on March 14, 2022


Doc Martin
posted by armeowda at 12:45 AM on March 14, 2022 [4 favorites]


Seinfeld.
posted by Paul Slade at 1:22 AM on March 14, 2022 [3 favorites]


Bosch
posted by crocomancer at 1:51 AM on March 14, 2022 [1 favorite]


Best answer: +1 Elementary.
posted by pompomtom at 2:13 AM on March 14, 2022 [2 favorites]


It's been a while, but I remember enjoying Endgame (a bit obscure and cancelled after one season; I only know about it because at one point I went through Shawn Doyle's entire filmography).
posted by confluency at 3:19 AM on March 14, 2022


Better Call Saul (spin off of Breaking Bad)
posted by watrlily at 3:53 AM on March 14, 2022 [2 favorites]


Corner Gas?
posted by pompomtom at 4:17 AM on March 14, 2022 [2 favorites]


Best answer: Oh no, wait:

Jonathan Creek
posted by pompomtom at 4:21 AM on March 14, 2022 [3 favorites]


Not a lead, but Martin from "Friday Night Dinner".

Also Victor in "One Foot in the Grave".

Oh, and "Lead Balloon"
posted by james33 at 4:24 AM on March 14, 2022


Hustle.
posted by pompomtom at 4:26 AM on March 14, 2022 [1 favorite]


Best answer: My mother has similar tastes, and she has recently discovered the Belgian series Professor T on PBS.

There's also a UK remake if you don't want to read subtitles. This is also airing on PBS.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 4:30 AM on March 14, 2022 [4 favorites]


Mrs. Maisel
posted by Sweetie Darling at 5:27 AM on March 14, 2022 [7 favorites]


Best answer: Definitely Sherlock.
Veronica Mars and the X-Files might also work.
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 5:34 AM on March 14, 2022


Best answer: nthing Sherlock and Elementary. I feel this basically embodies the modern incarnations of Sherlock Holmes - hence why shows like House (and to a lesser extent, Monk) are on your mother's list.
posted by litera scripta manet at 5:35 AM on March 14, 2022 [1 favorite]


Big Bang Theory has a witty, self-absorbed jerk.
posted by Winnie the Proust at 6:12 AM on March 14, 2022 [1 favorite]


Seconding "Frasier."
posted by Dolley at 6:30 AM on March 14, 2022


She probably watched it when it was airing but Frasier stands up to rewatch. Also, similar time frame but a twist on the lead: Malcolm in the Middle.

If she is more interested in the muuuuuurrrrdeeerrrrr, Father Brown is delightful and although I wouldn’t call the lead self absorbed and witty these characteristics do exude from the show as a whole.
posted by Mizu at 6:34 AM on March 14, 2022 [1 favorite]


You’re The Worst.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:38 AM on March 14, 2022 [1 favorite]


Rick and Morty (animated, but the vibe you're looking for is STRONG here)
posted by ananci at 6:50 AM on March 14, 2022 [1 favorite]


Best answer: Recent BBC hospital comedy drama “This is Going to Hurt” adapted from the memoir of the same name.
posted by Balthamos at 7:00 AM on March 14, 2022 [1 favorite]


Archer.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:21 AM on March 14, 2022 [3 favorites]


Death in paradise?
posted by eotvos at 9:05 AM on March 14, 2022 [1 favorite]


Alpha House! Four Republican Congressmen sharing a house in DC, written by Garry Trudeau of Doonesbury fame. No one knows this show, but it's so good! Think Veep but better.

Arrested Development and Parks & Rec have some of this as well, although those are more ensemble shows than "everyone must bend to the will of this larger-than-life jerk". So, for that matter, does The Good Place, which is literally about how a bunch of self-absorbed smartasses (ok Jason is kind of a dumbass) learn to be better.
posted by basalganglia at 9:20 AM on March 14, 2022


Best answer: Nthing Elementary. Maybe Burn Notice? Michael, the main character, is smart and witty, and his friend Sam (the Bruce Campbell character) hits the trifecta.
posted by epj at 9:42 AM on March 14, 2022


Also with Ted Danson: Becker.
posted by Citizen Cane Juice at 10:06 AM on March 14, 2022 [3 favorites]


so ... basically everything on TV.

To which I'd add The Office. Both versions. Though I suppose it's questionable whether David Brent/Michael Scott are actually witty. They're certainly self-absorbed enough to think they are.
posted by philip-random at 10:08 AM on March 14, 2022


Ohhh, jerks.

Not Bull necessarily, then.

I'm the Veep vein, and if she can do the British thing: The Thick of It
posted by rhizome at 10:13 AM on March 14, 2022 [4 favorites]


It sounds like she gravitates towards male jerks, but if she's not exclusive about that: Fleabag.
posted by babelfish at 10:31 AM on March 14, 2022 [8 favorites]


The first one that came to mind is the titular character in Kevin Can Fuck Himself, although his wife is arguably more of the lead in the show.
posted by emelenjr at 11:41 AM on March 14, 2022


This might be too goofy for her, but it is one of my favorite much missed comedies - "Don't Trust The B in Apartment 23". The character Chloe played by Krysten Ritter is a smart self-absorbed jerk.
posted by Julnyes at 1:03 PM on March 14, 2022 [3 favorites]


Best answer: If she can tolerate subtitles, Lupin, the tale of a brilliant French thief who lets everyone in his life down was a big hit in our house. If not, Luther, a British police procedural with an obsessive, charismatic jerk as the lead character might do the trick.
posted by *s at 3:02 PM on March 14, 2022 [2 favorites]


Young Sheldon (prequel to Big Bang Theory and much better imho). Annie Potts as Meemaw and Wallace Shawn as Dr Sturgis are just about the best thing on tv and I would like them to adopt me.
posted by humph at 3:36 PM on March 14, 2022 [1 favorite]


Best answer: I came here to say "Suits." The main character isn't very self-absorbed, but the main lawyer Harvey (played by Gabriel Macht) is. And all of the characters are clever/witty. It scratches the same itch for me that "House" does.
posted by tacodave at 5:22 PM on March 14, 2022


If you're going to mention the B in Apartment 23, you can't leave without dropping Two Broke Girls and Mom as well... by golly, maybe every show on TV is full of nothing but self-absorbed jerks.
posted by lhauser at 7:10 PM on March 14, 2022


I would recommend Justified.
posted by wondermouse at 7:29 PM on March 14, 2022 [1 favorite]


Bosch??
posted by sparringnarwhal at 10:49 PM on March 14, 2022


Best answer: +1 The Mentalist (and also Elementary, and Lie to Me).

*Maybe* Unforgettable. The central character is a woman with a perfect memory; I think she fits the witty self-absorbed jerk mould, but I got increasingly irritated by the number of action sequences (chases and gunfights), and haven't actually finished watching the final season.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 6:40 AM on March 15, 2022


To which I'd add The Office. Both versions. Though I suppose it's questionable whether David Brent/Michael Scott are actually witty.

One of my favorite things about the American version is that Michael Scott is actually an amazing salesman, he just never should have been promoted to manager. The episode "The Client" is the perfect example. It's a slow burn though the whole series, but I love it.
posted by Rock Steady at 2:57 PM on March 15, 2022 [2 favorites]


Best answer: I think “The Closer” fits the bill. Brenda Leigh is brilliant and self absorbed. Plus a great ensemble cast.
posted by ec2y at 4:22 PM on March 19, 2022 [1 favorite]


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