A while back, I received an intriguing request in a comment: would I do a ranking of characters from The New Class in terms of best to worse? I decided back then that this would be one of my final articles on the show as it really will be the best way to look back on the many, many characters we’ve been exposed to on this show over the years.
I’m ranking from best to worse, so number one is my favorite while number seventeen is my least favorite. Also, I’m not including Mr. Belding or Screech on this list as I will be dealing with them at another time. So, without further adieu, here’s my ranking! Please, feel free to disagree with my reasoning in the comments!
I’ve maintained since the beginning that Scott should have never been fired after the first season. I don’t know why on Earth you’d fire the only character who received any semblance of character development the first season, but they did, and the show suffered for it. Scott was witty, sneaky, and conniving. Towards the end of the season, he even starts developing a conscience for all the shit he does to try to steal Lindsay from Tommy D, and there’s even hints of possible growing feelings with Megan and Rachel. But, after only thirteen episodes, Scott was exiled without even a proper goodbye. What would The New Class have been like with more Scott episodes? I’d like to think it would be an improvement over the boring episodes we got near the end of the series and a huge improvement over his successor.
Maria showed so much promise, especially in seasons three and four. She was at her best when she was single and acting as one of the leaders of the group. She was feisty, quick-witted, and not a direct replacement for Megan, and, though underused and underdeveloped in her early appearances, was always someone I looked forward to seeing on screen as Samantha Becker was one of the best actresses on the show. I can’t quite put her at number one because her character suffered so much during her relationships with Nicky and Tony, but, all in all, I like Maria and am glad she got to be on the show until the end, even if it meant she was in high school for five years.
If ever there was a character who could have saved this show for me after the abominable season two, it was Ryan. I commented early in his run that he was like Scott 2.0 for me, and I stand by that: it felt like the producers were trying to fix the screw up they made with Brian, and thought, “Why don’t we just get someone to play Scott again?” Ryan brought so much to the show, especially in season three, and made me feel like the show had a leading man again. Unfortunately, the longer he was on the show, the more his character suffered in the hands of incompetent writers who had no idea what to do with him other than have him date more girls. But I can forgive these flaws as Ryan brought something back to the show that was sorely missing for me during the final two seasons after his departure.
Let me make this abundantly clear: Bianca Lawson was too good for this shit storm of a show, and good for her for abandoning it after only two seasons. Of all the characters with untapped potential, Megan probably ranks up there near the top as she really never achieves much on this show other than being a lust object for Weasel and Bobby. But it says something about the level of acting Lawson brought to this role that, despite the horrible underdevelopment of the character, she was the one I felt the most sad about leaving in the entire run of the show. We’ll never know what could have happened with her character in the hands of a competent writer, but it’s no surprise that Lawson has gone on to be, perhaps, the most successful former cast member after her run on this show.
I never disliked Lindsay; I just always felt like she was a very poor woman’s Kelly Kapowski. But Lindsay existed for two reasons: to be a love interest for Scott and to date Tommy D. With both of those reasons gone by the end of season two, her character suffered as the writers realized they were going to have to do actual stuff with her now, and they never quite figured out how to develop her in the third season. But she was never a bad character; just chronically underused and underdeveloped.
Nicky could have been a much better character, but all he got for most of his existence was NEW YORK and the odd sport that was convienent to that week’s plot. Still, he wasn’t a terrible character, and he was a huge improvement over Tommy D, so I can’t rank him too far down. I just wish most of his personality hadn’t been derived from the girls he dated. If they’d drawn out the rivalry between Ryan and him, he could have been so much more interesting.
Despite being badly written and acted, I can’t hate Rachel too much. After all, she got some great moments in season three (along with, admitedly, some terrible ones). And that’s the problem with Rachel as a character: she was at her best when she was single. When she was dating someone, she was completely at the whim of whatever they were doing that week. Because she had some pretty terrible moments in season two, I can’t rank her any closer to the top.
I just found Katie to be completely bland. Whatever personality she had was stolen from the plot of the week or based on her relationship with Nicky, and it was hard to be interested in her most weeks. Still, she’s not terrible and, other than usually being the one to be too preachy, she wasn’t usually a terrible character.
Eric was definitely the best of the four characters fulfilling the former Screech role. Still, that doesn’t say much considering he was up against Weasel, Bobby, and R.J. The problem with Eric is he was at his best when they were letting him do his thing with music. He was at his worst when they were trying to make him athletic and shit. Still, Eric was often the most disposable of the characters, especially during seasons four and five, so I can’t really place him much higher.
It might surprise some people I didn’t place Liz lower, and the reason is simple: she didn’t annoy the shit out of me like many in the bottom seven. Sure, she may have been dull as rocks and had next to no personality, but at least I didn’t cringe every time she was on screen. And, on this show, that’s a huge accomplishment in my book.
Okay, so let’s face it: Isaac Lidsky may have accomplished some amazing things in real life, but he couldn’t act to save his life and, as a replacement Screech, Weasel definitely feel flat. Weasel had all the characteristics of Screech from the original series, so there was never any guessing what he would do. Combine that with Lidsky’s poor acting and you get a recipe for my first entry in the bottom seven.
12. Tommy D
It’s no secret to regular readers I hated Tommy D. How did they take a bland greaser character who hated sports from the first season and turn him into a stupid jock in seasons two and three? It was horrible. Combine that with the fact Tommy D really had no purpose on the show after he broke up with Lindsay and you’ll get that he was a terrible character all around. He could have been saved through a rivalry with Ryan, but the writers were anxious to resolve that and get him back to his idiotic status quo.
The writers didn’t seem to know what they were doing with Bobby. One minute he’d be the smooth, street wise character that would later find fruition in Eric. The next, they were trying to make him a geek in the vein of Screech and Weasel. The latter failed horribly, as did Megan’s supposed repulsion to him for no other reason than the script called for it. Which is sad, because I could have actually seen potential for Bobby, thus why he’s not further down on this list.
Vicky was probably the most original member of the first season cast, which is a sad indictment for the originality of this show. She’s obviously taking all the worst qualities from Alex of The College Years, and she seems to exist for no other reason than to act stupid and get horny for Scott. No episodes revolved around her, and she was the first character who made me want to punch the screen every time she came on.
R.J was barely a character. Sure, he had a couple (horrible) episodes center around him, but most of the time his sole purpose for existing was to serve as a pawn in some wacky scheme that Ryan or Screech were putting on. He was instantly forgettable when he left the show, and even the other characters didn’t give a shit about him when they mourned Lindsay and Tommy D’s departure but were completely silent about R.J. It makes me wonder if the writers even forgot he existed in between seasons.
This may be my most controversial ranking on this list because I’m not putting Tony at the bottom. Sure, he was a horribly weak character and Tom Wade Huntington couldn’t act to save his life, but at least I could laugh at how ludicrous a character Tony was on occasion. Of course, most of the time he was just terrible and I questioned why he was even on the show except to give Maria something to do during the last two seasons, so, yeah, he deserves to be near the bottom.
Have I mentioned before how much I hate Fake-Swiss Brian? If not, let me tell you: I hated him! If Vicki made me want to punch the screen every time she was on, Brian made me want to gouge my eyes and ears out. He has no redeeming value and existed solely for the purpose of sexing Rachel up. Season two felt like the longest of the seven to me just because I had to see his stupid face week after week, and I was so relieved to see him depart, even if I had to be reminded he existed in a couple of later clip show episodes. Peter Engel claims he had no faith in the first season cast. If Brian was his way of making up for it, he sure had no fucking clue what makes a compelling, interesting, and likeable character, and created a one-dimensional guy whose sole purpose in life is to break up Rachel and her boyfriend. Really, after that he had no real purpose on the show other than to have a sister of the wrong accent to break up Tommy D and Lindsay. Good riddance to bad rubbish and let us never speak of him again.