I’ve just finished reading The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and there are a lot of cigarettes in it. In fact tobacco seems to have been a recurring thread throughout a lot of the novels I’ve read recently- from Dracula to Desolation Angels to A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. Not only have they made me crave a cigarette by the time I’ve read quite a chunk during my morning or evening commute, but they’ve also inspired this ode to my favourite nicotine fiends from television.
Spike (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
Everyone’s favourite English bad boy vampire smoked of course– his cigarettes functioning as a signifier that he was foreign, naughty and slightly outdated. It’s interesting to note that Angel turned into a smoker when he became evil too- adding credence to the accusations that the show, and especially episodes like Beer Bad and Surprise (which seem to suggest that alcohol and sex lead to badness), had a prudish tone.
President Bartlett (The West Wing)
President Bartlett mostly seemed to smoke when stressed, as in the episode ‘A Proportional Response’ when he had to both authorise a retaliatory military strike after Syrian operatives blew up a jet carrying Americans, and deal with the fact that he was overly emotional about the situation because his physician- who’d just become a father- had been on the plane. The President did also bum a smoke off a journalist on Air Force One on at least one occasion however, leading some to cynically cast aspersions on the government’s anti-tobacco stance.
Robin (How I Met Your Mother)
In ‘Last Cigarette Ever’ it was revealed that all of the gang- rather than just Robin- were at least occasional smokers, which rather surprised Ted’s kids in the future. Barney’s penchant for cigars, Marshall’s drunk smoking, Lily’s desire to smoke when stressed and Ted’s lame capitulation to peer pressure all paled in comparison to Robin- who could be seen smoking while eating, in the midst of brushing her teeth, and during yoga. You’ve got to appreciate commitment like that.
Britta was busted smoking in the very first episode of Community but- as Jeff pointed out- the cigarettes were filtered so they’re safe. Her attempts to quit smoking turned her into a crazy person, ready to snap at anything, but Pierce was eventually able to cure her of her taste for tobacco via haphazard hypnotherapy. Still, I prefer to recall the hazy (or rather, smoky) halcyon days of yore.
Omar (The Wire)
The only thing that Omar seemed to appreciate as much as Newport cigarettes was a steady supply of honey nut cheerios. The site of him ‘lurking in the shadows of a back alley smoking a cigarette’, as TV Tropes puts it, functions as shorthand to explain that he’s a badass. The actor who played him, Michael K. Williams, can also be seen smoking in R Kelly’s hip-hopera Trapped in the Closet– but this time as a cop rather than a gangster.
Anna (This Life)
Most of the lawyers and their friends in This Life smoked incessantly- although Miles went through mildly pathetic phases of quitting. Anna was probably the one doing the best impression of a chimney, it was almost a rarity to see her without a cigarette in hand. Watching the show now, and especially her character, is a vivid reminder that not so long ago you could smoke bloody everywhere in England.
Marsha, the landlady in Spaced, was basically never seen without a cigarette in her hand- and there was generally a glass of red wine in the other. Check out her general fabulousness:
Despite his brief flirtation with nicotine patches, Hank (whose character is essentially an homage to author Charles Bukowski and his literary alter-ego Hank Chinaski) has generally endorsed a hedonistic sex, drugs and rock and roll lifestyle- complete with plenty of cigarettes. There seems to be quite a lot of debate as to what brand he smokes (further confused by the fact that David Duchovny- who plays him- doesn’t smoke), perhaps Hank’s lack of loyalty suggests a true obsession with simply inhaling smoke.
Joan (Mad Men)
Mad Men has taught me that everyone smoked in 1960s New York- and not only that, they smoked everywhere. Joan Holloway (portrayed by Christina Hendricks), office manager extraordinaire, is my favourite Mad Men smoker by a long shot. Not simply because she’s always managed to look effortlessly elegant- but because she’s not a quitting quitter who quits, unlike Don Draper.
The idea that a young offender in England is a smoker isn’t exactly a shocking concept. It also wasn’t the most important part of Nathan’s personality- I’d plump for his utter and complete lack of shame instead- but I’ll take any excuse I can to bitch about the fact that Robert Sheehan won’t be returning as Nathan for the show’s third season. Meep.
Misfits sans Sheehan simply sounds sad- so now I need cheering up. If you’ve got a favourite smoking character of your own, cough up in the comments!