12 Supporting TV Actors Who Deserve Starring Roles

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Retta Parks and Rec watch yourself


If there's one thing I really love to do, it's talk about the most underrated aspects of pop culture. From which movies were snubbed at the Oscars to what song of summer really deserved to be the song of summer, I can't get enough of promoting things that don't get enough promotion. That especially includes underrated TV actors.

I love TV, and I love people who star on TV for making TV happen. As much as I'll be first in line to cheer on Amy Poehler or Jon Hamm or Zooey Deschanel or any number of lead actors, I also can never forget about the supporting players. You already get less attention when you're in a supporting role, just by definition. But some people are just really underrated as performers on top of that. I'm here with twelve examples of TV actors who have smaller roles but make a huge impact, and who deserve a bigger spotlight. Give these guys their own shows already! Or at least an Emmy nomination. None of them have that either.

1. Retta

Retta treat yo self


How much longer must we wait for Donna Meagle of Parks and Rec to have her own spin-off show? If we can't make that happen, can we at least give Retta a show where we can watch her catch up on TV and listen to her comments? Her tweets are definitely hilarious enough to warrant a series.

2. Adam Pally

Adam Pally Happy Endings


Adam was hilarious on the tragically short-lived Happy Endings, and he's continued being great with a small role on The Mindy Project. And did you see that amazing Friends-themed rap he did a few months ago? I think the world is ready to watch The Adam Project.

3. Michaela Watkins

Michaela Watkins New Girl


Can we all start appreciating Michaela Watkins more, please? I thought she was hilarious when she was on SNL a few years back and was super sad to see her go. I thought she was also hilarious in her guest roles on The New Adventures of Old Christine and New Girl. And now she's on the super underrated Trophy Wife and she isn't even the star, even though she steals every episode. Pay attention to her!

4. Lamorne Morris

Lamorne Morris Winston New Girl


Winston has been the most underrated character on New Girl pretty much since he entered the show. He's the most likable character, if you ask me, and he's really missed out on the plotlines he deserves. I'd totally watch a spin-off with him and his cat Ferguson.

5. Kiernan Shipka

Sally Draper smoking Mad Men


You might be thinking Kiernan is anything but underrated, since pretty much the entire world is obsessed with her, even people who don't watch Mad Men. But I still want to mention her, because not only has she not gotten awards attention for her role as Sally, but she also hasn't gotten the roles she deserves elsewhere. Flowers in the Attic? She's way too good for that.

6. Billy Eichner

Billy Eichner Parks and Rec


Yes, technically Billy Eichner already has his own show called Billy on the Street in addition to playing Craig on Parks and Rec. But Billy should have ten shows because he's absolutely hilarious and I'm obsessed with him. Let Craig go with Donna to the spin-off I just invented, where they can be roommates and make me laugh every week.

7. Eden Sher

Eden Sher The Middle dancing


First of all, everybody should watch The Middle, because it's amazing. Second of all, everybody also needs to petition to get Eden Sher, who plays teenage daughter Sue, a major role, perhaps in a funny teen movie a la Easy A. She's hilarious and brightens up the screen. And that's not just because Sue's braces are extra shiny.

8. Jim Rash

Jim Rash Community


Jim Rash has an Oscar for co-writing The Descendants, but I think his acting is super underrated. Dean Pelton is most definitely my favorite part of Community. Once again, a spin-off would be great, or a fantastic lead movie role — perhaps one he writes himself.

9. Danai Gurira

Michonne Walking Dead smile


Michonne stepped onto The Walking Dead a couple of years ago and everybody was like “Woah, who is this sword-wielding badass?” As the show's gone on Danai Gurira has woven complexity and vulnerability and humor into that character. Let's give her some more roles — and also an Emmy.

10. Kristen Schaal

Kristen Schaal 30 Rock


She's done stand-up, she's been a Daily Show correspondent, she's guest starred on shows like 30 Rock and Wilfred, and she does a voice on Bob's Burgers. And yet I still find myself wanting to see more and more of Kristen Schaal, because she's amazing.

11. Lily Rabe

Lily Rabe AHS


Whenever people talk about American Horror Story, Jessica Lange seems to be the focus. And that's totally deserved, because she's beyond fabulous. And the other women who've starred in various seasons — from Connie Britton to Kathy Bates to Sarah Paulson — are also fabulous and deserve their praise and awards attention. But let's not forget the amazing Lily Rabe, who's turned in scene-stealing performances in all three seasons. Just sayin'.

12. Vanessa Bayer

Vanessa Bayer SNL


Whenever we talk about the ladies of SNL, Kate McKinnon tends to get most of the attention, and I'm totally guilty of it because I'm in love with her and I don't care who knows it. But can we please start giving more credit to Vanessa Bayer and acknowledge that a sitcom or rom-com or any kind of com with her as the star would be super fun?