I was obsessed with TV when I was growing up and harbored serious I-need-to-be-a-film-or-television-star-immediately delusions. I’m certain I would have murdered my siblings if doing so meant I’d be given my own sitcom. Naturally, then, when it came to consuming television, my attention was laser focused on the children I saw onscreen. For the most part, I wanted to be them. Stephanie Tanner, Angela Chase, Kelly Kapowski, Claudia Salinger: these were the girls after whom I modeled myself, copying their outfits right down to which side they parted their hair. But there was a whole other crop of TV children I inexplicably and absolutely loathed. Quite simply, they were annoying, and even worse, they were affirmed in their annoyingness! They were child stars! They were doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing, and pissing me off while they were at it. My top most-hated five:
This pains me to admit since I now consider the Olsen twins to be among the most gorgeous, talented (er, in certain fields), worship-worthy people in the world, but for most of my childhood, I absolutely hated Michelle Tanner. I didn’t understand why people found her cute. That monkey face, the rudeness disguised as childish charm, the grating repetition of her catchphrase, “You got it, dude!” – it was almost too much for me to take. As the baby of my family, I understood what it meant to be spoiled, but not that spoiled. Remember when DJ and Stephanie have Counting Crows tickets and Michelle insists on going too, so they have to draw straws? And of course, stupid little Michelle gets to go instead of Stephanie and she doesn’t even know the music! She calls them the “Counting Cats” for crying out loud! And don’t even get me started on when she cuts in front of Stephanie at Disney World and gets to be princess for the day. I’m offended for all little sisters, everywhere.
I hated Ruthie on sight for purely aesthetic reasons. It never made sense to me that she was supposedly the biological child of Eric and Annie Camden when she looked not only different from every single member of her family, but very possibly of a different nationality altogether. There were rumors she’d been adopted, of course, but in all my years of obsessive 7th Heaven viewing (and researching!), I’ve never found a factual basis. So whatever, let’s pretend Annie somehow gave birth to the little olive-skinned moppet pictured above. Why did she have to also be the most annoying person on the show (and she had tough competition)? She’s bratty, pouty, and an attention whore. Her mission in many episodes is to make her poor mother’s life a living Hell. And she is always, always, always meddling where she doesn’t belong. Fun fact: the actress grew up to post half-naked pictures of herself on the Internet!
On a show famous for a different annoying character, Little Richie somehow managed to steal the irritating spotlight right out from under Urkel’s cheese-scented nose. I don’t really remember the specific plot lines Richie stuck his unnaturally wet-looking curls in the middle of, but I do remember that he was a terrible, terrible actor. Even by kid standards. Sure, kids on TV always sound fake and are bad at pretending to cry or have a secret or, you know, express emotion, but come on! I can still hear Little Richie’s whiny voice demanding attention. Also, you know he’s the reason poor Judy Winslow was abruptly kicked off the show altogether.
Morgan Matthews (the replacement)
It’s creepy enough when shows silently replace an actor with zero acknowledgment or explanation (cough, Roseanne-Modern Family-Family Matters-Gilmore Girls-Seinfeld-Bewitched-The O.C.), but in the case of Boy Meets World, they actually picked a new actress significantly more annoying than the original to take over the role of Cory’s little sister, Morgan. With a wink-wink “Wow, that was the longest time out I’ve ever had!” when the new actress first appeared (blech), we realized we were never going to see cute little Morgan as we knew and loved her again. Instead of a darling little cutie-pie, we were given a precocious pre-teen, supposedly so they could incorporate her into more adult plot lines, which never happened. Apparently, the second actress is a trained counselor now. Please let me walk into therapy one day and see Morgan Matthews II waiting there to advise me.
I promise it wasn’t just that he was by far the ugliest of the brothers. Obviously, Jonathan Taylor Thomas was my perfect man, and even the oldest brother was kind of hot in a blonde meathead sort of way. Mark, on the other hand… but all the same, it was his personality that tipped him over the edge into becoming someone I thought I might murder one day. Mark was the consummate younger brother, whiny and weak in the face of normal, older brother teasing from his siblings. I actually perversely loved that Brad and Randy were so merciless in their exclusion of their younger brother. Maybe it was some sick better-you-than-me instincts that kicked in, but even as a very excluded younger sister myself, I felt absolutely no pity for Mark.
Maybe it’s a good thing I never fulfilled my dream of being a child star on a hit TV show. Maybe if I had, right now, some other girl would be writing about how I was the single most annoying kid ever to appear on a sitcom. Actually that still sounds pretty awesome.