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Characters: The Critic

The Sherman Family

Jay Prescott Sherman

Voiced by Jon Lovitz

  • All of the Other Reindeer: Jay is a constant victim of this.
  • Ambiguously Jewish: Jay. The closest to resolving this ambiguity occurs in "Every Doris Has Her Day", when Jay visits the orphanage he was adopted from and asks if he was Jewish. The priest answers, "Well, what do you think?" Jay crows, "I knew it!" and immediately launches into a fake Hebrew song.
  • Amusing Injuries: Every time Jay gets hit on the head by a blunt object, he’ll swerve around and fall like a bowling pin. Even the sound effects are added in.
    • This is one of the reasons Alice's daughter Penny seems to really like him. Jay ended up endearing himself to her when blunt objects kept falling on his head and she thought it was funny.
  • Animated Actor: Jay did this trope a few times.
  • Balloon Belly: Jay. He balloons himself by turning into a giant blueberry when he steals a certain stick of gum from Willy Wonka, is shown having one in a picture inside Alice's diamond locket, and from eating a giant bagpipe-playing potato.
    • In another episode he becomes morbidly obese after an image consultant advises him that the public loves people who are "big and jolly" like Santa Claus and Rush Limbaugh. It then cuts to Jay getting liposuction for over a year.
  • Big Eater
  • Bumbling Dad: At times toward Marty, but Marty knows he means well.
  • Butt Monkey
  • Can't Hold His Liquor
  • Catch Phrase: Jay has three:
    • "It stinks!"
    • "Hotchie motchie!"
    • "Achhum!"
    • "Ha-haaa, how awkward!"
    • And a fourth was added in the 2nd season, though only in 2 episodes - "Hi guuuuuuuy!"
  • Caustic Critic: Jay Sherman hates just about every movie he sees. If he mentions a movie he DOES like, it's always so that another movie can be compared unfavorably to it.
    • The highest score he ever gives a movie is a 7 out of 10.
    • It's revealed that the only movie Jay likes that isn't foreign and/or artsy is Citizen Kane.
  • Character Blog: Jay has a Twitter account.
  • Character Development: For the second season, Jay's character design was tweaked to give him a friendlier appearance, and most of his harshness and down-and-out traits from the first season were taken away, giving him a warmer, more likable personality.
  • The Chew Toy
  • Compassionate Critic
  • Cosmic Plaything: The universe really has it in for Jay. In the episode "Lady Hawke," when he was sent to go on the balcony so that Jeremy and his sister, Olivia, could have a private discussion, the weather suddenly turned stormy and a strong wind blew off the towel he was wearing. When Jay finally got back inside and it was Jeremy's turn to wait on the balcony...the weather immediately cleared up and became sunny and beautiful.
    • And then greeted by French twins.
    Jay: That hardly seems fair.
    • Jay gives us this gem from the first episode:
      Oh, my therapist was right, God does hate me!
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: An In-Universe example. While most Americans dislike Jay, he's widely beloved in France. In part, this is due to their thinking he resembles Babar, King Of The Elephants.
  • Goofy Print Underwear
  • Gravity Is a Harsh Mistress: He trips, he falls, has things fall on his head, and especially regarding a bungee jump attempt.
  • Happily Adopted: His adopted family's quirks aside, it's clear that they love each other.
  • He Panned It, Now He Sucks: What the in-show public thinks about him. invoked
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Jeremy.
  • Holding Both Sides of the Conversation: In season 1, Jay often does this by pretending to be his secretary with a British nanny accent.
  • Honorary Uncle: Penny calls him "Uncle Jay."
  • Hypocritical Humor: This series was built on it. Anytime Jay makes a denying statement about himself, expect him to immediately afterwards do something like it.
    Jay: I've suffered every ailment known to Man. Except delusions of grandeur. Which is why God chose me alone to do His work ON EARTH!
  • Informed Deformity / Informed Flaw: One of the shows running gags is that Jay is considered almost monstrously ugly by most people, as well as being enormously heavy due to his informed obesity problem, despite being relatively average looking, and while he is slightly overweight, his short stature means he couldn't possibly weigh more than 250 pounds.
    Freight Helicopter Pilot: I don't understand. This thing is supposed to be able to pick up a tank.
  • Kavorka Man: Despite the running gag of women finding him hideous, he has had a surprising amount of luck with women INSANELY out of his league, most notably Alice, and Jeremy's sister Olivia.
  • Large Ham: Jay on occasion.
  • Loser Protagonist: Most potent in the first season.
  • Love Confession: To Alice at the end of "Lady Hawke."
  • Mistaken for Gay: Jay's boss is convinced Jay has a crush on him, despite Jay's insistence that he's straight.
    Jay: Duke, where's your bedroom?
    Duke: (chuckling) You people never give up.
    Jay: I am not gay! And if I was gay, I would do something about that wallpaper. Plaids and florals? Oh, puh-lease Dukey-Dukey.
  • The Napoleon
  • Nice Guy: Jay, especially in season 2. In season 1 he's more of a Jerk with a Heart of Gold
  • No Respect Guy
  • Official Couple: With Alice in the second season.
  • One-Liner Echo: "If the movie stinks, just don't go!"
  • Organ Autonomy: Jay's stomach.
  • The Protagonist
  • Ridiculously Average Guy
  • Rousing Speech: In "Eyes on the Prize."
    "I am a movie critic by trade, and until recently, I got paid to tell you people which movies merely stink and which ones you shouldn't screen near an open flame. Well, I'm putting the burden of lousy movies back on you. It's very simple: if you stop going to bad movies, they'll stop making bad movies. If the movie used to be a TV show, just don't go. After Roman numeral II, give it a rest. If it's a remake of a classic, rent the classic. Tell them you want stories about people, not a hundred million dollars of stunts and explosives. People, it's up to you. If the movie stinks, just don't go."
  • Sealed with a Kiss: With Alice in the end of "Lady Hawke."
  • Shirtless Scene: Has had a few of these.
  • Straw Critic: Jay. In a minor subversion, however, he's essentially a decent guy; in his defense, most of the movies he has to review are horrible. Still, he does attack some noteworthy films and/or performers — he once sucker-punched Mister Rogers! — and this is one reason he's so unpopular with the public.
    On Oscar-winner Haing S. Ngor in The Killing Fields: "If you ask me, he should have gone to the acting fields."
    "And that's why I'm glad The Beatles broke up."
    "And that's why Goldie Hawn should be shot."
    • He was basically the Yahtzee of his day.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: (Non-villain) Jay usually feels like he is the only one with an IQ in a room.
  • This Loser Is You: Jay in the first season, but somewhat toned down in the second.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: After putting up with so much crap from his job, his parents, women, the general public, and the universe at large, Jay manages to get a steady girlfriend in Alice at the beginning of the second season.
    • More generally, if the Cross Over with The Simpsons is canon, then Jay has a long string of awards. He's also had actresses come on to him in the hopes of getting good reviews, and he's also had off-screen meetings with various celebrities, which suggests that he's well-thought of in the film world, at least. He also seems to make a pretty comfortable living in general.
  • Unlucky Everydude
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist
    • In the first season. He was made more of a Woobie in the second season.
    • Still; even in the first season he goes through so, so much crap from all directions you can't help but feel sorry for him.
  • The Woobie: His levels of sympathy are Dependingonthe Writer (though mostly varying in the first season) in-verse as well as out [[invoked]

Martin "Marty" Sherman

Voiced by Christine Cavanaugh

Margo Sherman

Voiced by Nancy Cartwright

  • All Girls Like Ponies
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: In "A Song For Margo," she dated a grunge rocker. She later dumps him upon discovering he cheated on her.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Deeply cares for her horse.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: When Margo is forced by Eleanor to attend a debutante ball.
  • Soap Box Sadie: Didn't want to attend a debutante ball because it violated everything she stood for. After being forced to go, she eventually rushed the stage to chastise the ball as "a tasteless contest to see who can waste the most money."
  • Spoiled Sweet: Despite coming from a WASP family, Margo is very kind, down to earth, and the only member of her family to generally show care for her older brother.
  • Tomboy: Her mother threatened to kill her horse before she would attend the girly debutante ball.

Franklin Sherman

Voiced by Gerrit Graham

  • Alcoholic Parent
  • Bungling Inventor: He's shown to have invented device called the Fishmobabywhirlamagig. It drops a never ending stream of fish onto a conveyor belt, which drops them down a chute into a pipe organ. This causes the pipe organ to play music, which makes a swing ride full of babies spin. The exact use of this device is only known to him. He may or may not have also invented something called the "Badger Blaster."
  • Closer to Earth: Subverted. Franklin is completely insane, but he's also a generally pleasant and upstanding guy.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Oh, where to begin.
    • When running for Vice President of the United States:
      Franklin: As the first black female head of the Ku Klux Klan, I'd like to say... America stinks!
      Duke: (watching) This may hurt us more than it helps us.
    • Another instance:
      Geraldo Rivera: I understand you can say your name backwards.
      Franklin: Nilknarf.
      Geraldo: What's your favorite food in the whole wide world?
      Franklin: Nilknarf.
    • At dinner with the family:
      "Oh, son, if I've said it once I've said it a thousand times...Who are all you people?"
    • His recollection of his first date was himself in a 1930's black and white rubber hose cartoon.
    • His family try to write this off as senility, but it's made clear he's been like this for a long, long time.
    Jay: (To a dinner guest) My father had a stroke a few years ago.
    Eleanor: (Bluntly) He didn't really. We just say that to explain his personality.
    • According to the video reel from "Frank And Ellie Gets Lost", he became this way after having his first taste of alcohol at his wedding in 1955.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Goes hand-in-hand with his Cloud Cuckoo Lander status. Such as hearing Jay's Rousing Speech of "If the movie stinks, don't go" and interpreting it as "If the movie stinks, do-si-do".
    Jay: Dad, for the last time, are you sure you want to run for Vice President?
    Franklin: {completely serious} Jay, can I do a worse job than Spiro Agnew? Or Aaron Burr? Or William Rufus DeVane King? He died in Cuba six weeks after being sworn in!
    Jay: Wow. Maybe you do know what you're doing.
    Franklin: {He slips a nylon sock over his head.} Yeah! Now, let's rob that bank!
  • Drink Order: Franklin is always seen with a glass of brandy in his hand. Even when the glass was shot out of his hand, he had another one in his other hand.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Only because he sees the road as a crazy game of Donkey Kong where his car horn is the jump button and he needs to swerve wildly to avoid barrels.
  • Jumping Out of a Cake: Franklin jumps out of Jay's birthday cake in the second season's opening credits.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Modeled after Franklin D. Roosevelt, sharing his name and former office of New York governor.
  • Official Couple: With Eleanor.
  • Sleeping Single: Thanks to twin beds and Eleanor protecting hers with barb wire and dobermans.
  • Talkative Loon

Eleanor Sherman (née Wigglesworth)

Voiced by Judith Ivey

Ardeth

Voiced by Brenda Vaccaro (season 1) and Rhea Perlman (season 2)

  • Florence Nightingale Effect: Ardeth had this when she first met Jay while he was in traction. That all changed when the bandages came off.
  • Jerkass: Towards Jay.
  • One Head Taller: Inverted. Ardeth is taller than Jay and she doesn't even like him.
  • The Resenter: Towards Jay and their marriage. This doesn't affect her parenting of Marty, however. She even goes as far as to admit to Jay's face that they've both raised a great son after Marty becomes the talent-show star with his belly virtuoso act, implying she doesn't completely resent Jay.

Other Characters

Duke Phillips

Voiced by Charles Napier

  • Bad Ass Mustache
  • Big Fancy House
  • George Jetson Job Security: If Duke hasn't fired Jay for the episode, then he's threatening to pull him off the air.
  • Hunk
  • Jerkass
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Has shown instances of this. One example is when Alice had problems enrolling Penny in preschool, Duke builds his own preschool for Penny to attend. Though in all he did this on a dare. He also becomes dismayed to the point of desperation whenever Jay temporarily leaves the network.
  • The Nicknamer: For Jay.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Duke is modeled after Ted Turner.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: When one of his employees is really in trouble, he doesn't yell; he's nice to them.
    Duke: Hello, handsome! How's my special little guy!
    Jay: Oh no, I'm doomed!
  • Shameless Self-Promoter:
    • He built "Duke Phillips Hospital," which includes a giant statue of himself chanting "All hail Duke. Duke is life."
    • While campaigning to be President for the '96 election, Duke flashed messages of "VOTE FOR DUKE" in the middle of an airing of Coming Attractions.
  • They Do: Duke marries Alice's sister Miranda at the end of "Dukerella."

Jeremy Hawke

Voiced by Maurice LaMarche

Doris Grossman

Voiced by Doris Grau

  • Deadpan Snarker
  • Must Have Nicotine: Doris is hardly ever seen without a lit cigarette in her mouth. Duke once snatched one out of her mouth in an attempt to make her quit smoking, only for a new lit one to immediately pop out of it, with a cash register "Ka-CHING!" sound effect. He repeated the act a few more times, only for the same result to happen every time.
    Doris: I can do this all day.

Alice Tompkins

Voiced by Park Overall

Penny Tompkins

Voiced by Russi Taylor

Vlada Veramirovich

Voiced by Nick Jameson

Zoltan Veramirovich

Shackleford

Voiced by Maurice LaMarche

  • Burn Baby Burn: Said word for word as the Sherman Estate goes up in flames due to Franklin leaving the stove on in one episode
  • Butt Monkey: Is often subjected to Franklin's whims, such as being smacked over the head with a guitar while Franklin was acting as El Kabong. He's also had to clean Jay's clothes from time to time, which is presented as a punishment in itself.
  • Deadpan Snarker
  • Expy: Modeled after the butler character Hobson from the 1981 film Arthur.
  • Hidden Depths: Has a knowledge of and love for various rock and roll musicians, apparently having worked for them in the past.
  • The Jeeves
  • Servile Snarker
  • Stealth Insult: Shackleford refers to Jay as "Adopted Master Jay," but in this case he says it right to Jay's face.
    • In "Every Doris Has Her Day," after finding out Doris may be his mother, Jay tells him his adoption jives can't hurt him anymore.
    Shackleford: (crying) They can't?

Principal Mangosuthu

Voiced by Maurice LaMarche

Jennifer (webisodes only)

Voiced by Valerie Levitt

  • One Head Taller: Inverted. Jennifer is taller than Jay.
  • Really Gets Around: In webisode 2, Jennfier says to Jay that "It's so hard to turn (men) away," and reveals after she has sex with them, they become "fixated" with her afterwards. This is probably the reason she has quite a lot of children (revealed in webisode 8).
  • Replacement Scrappy: She not only replaced Doris as Jay's Makeup Lady and Alice as Jay's girlfriend, but she pretty much replaced the entirety of Jay's supporting cast, with the exception of Vlada, and even he only appeared in the fourth of the ten webisodes. Jennifer is far less developed as a character than Alice, Doris, or any of the other characters, although that could be somewhat attributed to the inherent limitations of the new format. invoked
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