(Sybil, Basil, Polly, Manuel)
I might have mentioned it before, but if not, I am a stone fan of Fawlty Towers, the British sit-com from the 1970's. That, and Ab Fab, another Brit-com, both of which feature characters who are rotten to the core and hilarious as a result.
In American television, there must be redemption. No matter how bad the bad boys or girls are, deep down, they have a streak of goodness that they keep mostly hidden, but that will eventually out. Murphy Brown only seemed to be a hard-hearted bitch -- she really wasn't.
Basil Fawlty, on the other hand, was a total rotter. Ditto Edina and Patsy (Jennifer Saunders, Joanna Lumley, from Absolutely Fabulous.)
When they tried to do an American version of Fawlty Towers, with John Laroquette, starring as Royal Payne, who ran the Payne Inn, the show went belly up after a few episodes, and rightly so.
It wasn't funny, and they had to give him a glimmer of goodness down under all that nastiness.
What made Basil work is that he had no goodness down deep.
While doing a post on another site, I remembered something I found fascinating when I first saw it.
Fawlty Towers was written by John Cleese and Connie Booth, who were married at the time. The stress of the show, and Cleese's perfectionist's nature regarding it, apparently contributed greatly to the breakdown of their marriage, which ended in divorce after the show's first season. Though they worked together on the second season, the experience apparently put Booth off comedy. Eventually, she left acting altogether and became a psychotherapist. For thirty years, she has refused interviews about the show, and only recently posed for pictures with the rest of the cast.
Those of you who are Monty Python fans will remember Booth as Michael Palin's "best girl," in the infamous "The Lumber Jack Song" skit ...