Television shows about athletes are, surprisingly enough, far and few between. Sure, you’ve got your occasional Friday Night Lights-esque show, but look at how that show fared in the ratings. And, while it’s more common to find an individual character with athletic tendencies or aspirations in a television show, their characterization is ripe with clichés like dumb jock and sporty or frigid chick. Spare us the one-dimensional bullshit, television; we can handle it.
Luckily, there are a few TV shows that got it right. So, as another Fall television season is now fully upon us, we at Sneaker Report thought it be fitting to take a look at the 10 Funniest Athletes on TV This Fall - we promise, cliché-free.
No. 10 - Curtis Donovan
Played By: Nathan Stewart-Jarrett
Funny Because… Most of the reasons Curtis Donovan's life in general is hilarious doesn't exactly surround his now failed career as a runner, but more of what happened when he tried to get back into the sport. If you're not familiar with Misfits, the U.K. produced show follows a group of misfit teens as they try to cope with the aftermath of a mysterious lightning storm that left half of London with strange abilities. Curtis, a rising star runner with Olympic ambitions derailed by a pesky drug charge, originally finds himself gifted with powers that could change that fate.
Watch When: Thursdays at 10/9c on Logo
No. 9 - Penny Hartz
Show: Happy Endings
Played By: Casey Wilson
Funny Because… It’s very easy to file the character of Penny Hartz (Casey Wilson) away as just another slightly overweight, clumsy, quirky, dating-obsessed, romcom-watching, neurotic-but-still-somehow-lovable female character on television – it’s just, like, so real, y’know? – and, in all honesty, you probably should because that’s pretty much her in a nutshell. But regardless, when it comes to her athletic endeavors, she’s pretty damn hilarious, if only for the noises she makes while running much too fast on the treadmill at her local gym. Let’s just say adult film stars would admire the effort.
Watch When: Tuesdays at 9/8c on ABC
No. 8 - Caroline Channing
Show: 2 Broke Girls
Played By: Beth Behrs
Funny Because… We don't really get to see any of Caroline Channing (Beth Behrs)'s days as an award-winning equestrian in any of the episode, but we certainly do hear about it a lot. Normally, the memory is broached when Caroline recalls tidbits of her “old life” as a rich Upper East Side heiress and her horse named Chestnut. According to Caroline’s own recollections, she was a rather adept equestrian and won numerous awards and trophies before her father Bernie Madoff-ed himself right into jail and her family lost everything. Now, Chestnut lives in the backyard of Williamsburg apartment she shares with a Brooklynite waitress who looks a lot like Kat Dennings, and they often use toilet paper as a coffee filter because they’re too broke for the real ones. Rich people losing everything and being forced to live like normal people? Classic. Occupy Wall Streeters, we can see you drooling.
Watch When: Mondays at 9/8c on CBS
No. 7 - Schmidt
Show: New Girl
Played By: Max Greenfield
Funny Because… Though New Girl was initially founded on star Zooey Deschanel's immense and intense quirkiness, it's hard to say that Schmidt (Max Greenfield) isn't one of the best parts of the series. From his douche-y outbursts to his online dating profile video from 2008 based on MTV's The Hills, Schmidt is fun to watch in an "What not to do" sort of way. This is also because of his obsession with himself - namely, with taking care of himself. Schmidt holds himself in such high regards that a textbook narcissist would be impressed, and this shines through in just about everything he does, including his fitness regime. We have to give him props for impressing the ladies despite all of this.
Watch When: Tuesdays at 9/8c on Fox
No. 6 - Dee & Dennis Reynolds
Show: It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia
Played By: Kaitlin Olsen & Glenn Howerton
Funny Because… All things considered, Dee and Dennis Reynolds' shortlived attempt to become gym rats was half-assed at best. It all began after Dee has an unexpected heart attack, and the twins discover that they don't have health insurance because their father cancelled it when they were children. Deciding the best course of action is to get healthy, the two join a gym, and after buying a whole new wardrobe of workout clothes and a ton of supplements, proceed to try and join a spin class - only to be kicked out after about ten minutes because they complain about, and try to change the instructor's choice of music. This leads to them reasoning that the supplements will be enough to keep them healthy because "yeah bitch, science!" In a later season, Dee gets into boxing at the coaxing of Frank, and gets hooked on steroids because no one on this show is good at life in any shape or form.
Watch When: Thursdays at 10/9c on FX
No. 5 - Robin Scherbatsky
Show: How I Met Your Mother
Played By: Cobie Smulders
Funny Because… We don't hear a lot about Robin Scherbatsky (Cobie Smulders)'s hockey-playing past, but what we do know is pretty...well, out there. In a flashback episode Robin reveals that, because her father desperately wanted a son, she acted like a boy until her early teens in an effort to impress him and earn his love. This led to her interest in cigars, guns, and hockey - the latter of which she played while living in Canada as a preteen. Her father expressed his pride in her when she joined their local pee-wee hockey team as a boy, but it was shortlived - when she was caught kissing one of her male teammates, her father more or less verbally disowned her. Messed up doesn't even begin to cover it. But, on the very, very dimly-lit bright side, we're pretty sure it had to be her experience on the pee-wee hockey team that led to her being able to handle a hockey stick as well as she does later in life.
Watch When: Thursdays at 8/7c on NBC
No. 4 - Pete Hornberger
Show: 30 Rock
Played By: Scott Adsit
Funny Because… "30 Rock" has made it clear multiple times that Pete Hornberger had big ambitions when he was younger. From his short stint as a rock star to his short-lived aspirations to follow in his father, the Congressman's, footsteps, Pete had millions of opportunities to get it right - but he, in classic Pete fashion, messed each and every one of them up and now his life basically sucks. Perhaps the biggest unrequited dream on his list? It's revealed early on in the series that, prior to his work at NBC, Pete was actually a very skilled archer who was all set to compete in the 1980 Moscow Olympic games - until fate intervened, and then-president Jimmy Carter decided to boycott the games. It was probably karma for stealing someone's sandwich, or something.
Watch When: Mondays at 8/7c on CBS
No. 3 - Phil Dunphy
Show: Modern Family
Played By: Ty Burrell
Funny Because… Phil was a cheerleader in college. Is that enough? Too bad, because, there's more: Phil was a geeky cheerleader in college who got invited to no parties, and had 70's porn hair. If you thought your teen years were bad, you're lying to yourself.
Watch When: Wednesdays at 9/8c on ABC
No. 2 - Chris Traeger
Show: Parks & Recreation
Played By: Rob Lowe
Funny Because… Chris Traeger is a straight-up beast when it comes to his athleticism. Eating healthy, staying active (He considers a 9 mile run to be “light exercise”), and keeping his body fat at an astounding 2.8%, Traeger likes to view his body as a “temple” (EYEROLL), and cherishes every day or some cheesy shit like that. Unfortunately, he can’t seem to find anyone to love him as much as he loves himself, probably because happy people are annoying.
Watch When: Thursdays at 9:30/10:30c on NBC
No. 1 - Kenny Powers
Show: Eastbound & Down
Played By: Danny McBride
Funny Because… Kenny Powers (Danny McBride) had a bright future as a baseball player. His signature pitching style elevated him to become the jet ski drivin', tanning bed buyin', self help preachin' star we all came to love in the first season. Unfortunately talent isn’t everything – professionalism and common courtesy all matter more than anyone might think. Powers finds this out firsthand, as he’s constantly traded from team to team in major league baseball due to his difficult behavior and overall ridiculous personality that we here at Sneaker Report aspire to. Eventually, by the time the series begins, Powers is out of MLB entirely, due to a bit of Dee Reynolds-style steroid use, and he’s forced to move back to his hometown to take a job as a substitute gym teacher at the local middle school. Abrasive personalities, though detrimental to the lives of the characters themselves, always do make the best television. This is a must-see, get ready now for the upcoming third season.
Watch When: Sundays at 10/9c on HBO