The Luck o' the Irish: Top 10 Lucky Breaks in TV this Season

It's been a great season of TV so far with much thanks to some lucky breaks for actors finally getting the right show to make their break into TV fame, or break back into TV when it looked all might be lost!

Here are my top 10 lucky breaks in the TV world this season, so check them out and add your comments about these or others we've left off the list below.

Parenthood - Lauren Graham: While the circumstances were unfortunate leading to Lauren Graham getting the part on Parenthood, it was still definitely her lucky break to get the chance to be cast in this new and very promising NBC drama! Like a number of actors on this list, Graham had one hit show and then floundered to find herself another solid show and role. While she took part in a few movies since her famed Gilmore Girls role, she hasn't had a single show that even made it to the air to give her another go at TV (and being more than Lorelai Gilmore to us fans). So here's to her lucky break, and hoping it lasts!

The Good Wife - Julianna Margulies: Like Lauren Graham, Julianna Margulies gained her mainstream fame for a hit show, in this case, ER, and a character from which, in the years after ER, she seemed very unlikely to break free. She made a go of it on the very short-lived Canterbury's Law last season, but finally this season she has found her next nugget of TV gold with the solid CBS hit, The Good Wife.

Cougar Town - Courteney Cox Arquette: Unlike the previous two ladies, Courteney Cox Arquette did continue semi-successfully with TV after her "legendary" TV role. But Cox found it necessary, either by her own will or the will of the television audience and/or producers, to go completely opposite from her famed role by becoming a nasty bitch on FX's not so famous Dirt. She spent a little time on Scrubs trying to edge her way back into the comedy world, but nothing took until her pleasantly surprising full return to TV comedy with this season's Cougar Town.

The Middle - Patricia Heaton: Phew! Guess who's no longer that angry mom from Everybody Loves Raymond?? Heaton tried to jump back into comedy with Back to You last season, which was a good try, but only left Heaton and her still struggling partner for that show, Kelsey Grammer, left hanging and waiting for another chance. Heaton found her lucky opening with the now hit ABC comedy, The Middle which she almost entirely carries along with that janitor from Scrubs. And speaking of, this is a double-hitter of luck, as Neil Flynn is no longer just that janitor from Scrubs!

Modern Family - Ty Burrell & Ed O'Neill - Except for the loss for Kelsey Grammer's Hank, the new ABC Wednesday comedy line-up has been a huge stroke of luck as Courteney Cox Arquette and Patricia Heaton finally got their successful breaks back into TV comedy, and Modern Family hasn't been an exception for its stars! Modern Family's now lovable and very well-known Phil Dunphy, Ty Burrell, was also on Heaton's failed Back to You, and for years has been that sidekick funny guy in various films and shows. Now could we love him and know who the heck that guy is more?? Modern Family was also a lucky break back into network (and notable) TV for Ed O'Neill who finally now, even after a number of other TV and film appearances, finally not that guy from Married with Children. Go, ABC comedy, go!!

Vampire Diaries - Ian Somerhalder: Speaking of no longer being "that guy from that famous show," we have perhaps the hottest lucky break of them all - Ian Somerhalder. For fans who watch both Vampire Diaries and Lost, did you notice that when Boone appeared in the season premiere of Lost, you thought, "Hey, there's Damon!" Well, there you go - another lucky break out of a seemingly lost cause character rut. Considering Boone died years ago on Lost, it's about time!

Community - Danny Pudi & Donald Glover: And now we switch from the seemingly doomed type-casted, to the entirely unknown lucky enough to make their break into TV! For Community, it's not so surprising that Joel McHale and Chevy Chase could hold up a funny show, but lucky cast members Danny Pudi, playing Abed, and Donald Glover, playing Troy, have made known faces for themselves in the TV world when once there were none! They've even taken their roles strongly enough to be the funny post-show short stars, and while Community may not be a break-out hit, it's going strong, and I can only imagine these break-in stars will soon be break-out stars of their own.

Glee - The Cast: To continue and supersize the unknown-to-famous status just mentioned about Community - hello world, it's the amazing cast of GLEE! This show made some very unknown, very talented kids super, duper, mega-stars! It's also made some famous bit-part actors like Jane Lynch, Jayma Mays, and Matthew Morrison superstars with super solid and recognizable characters as well. Now that seems like a studio that's just crawling with rainbows, gold, and happy leprechauns!

Jersey Shore - The Cast: Yes, I'm going there. You can't talk about the lucky breaks of truly talented people in television without mentioning the outrageously lucky breaks into super fame for the reality TV sensation of the nation! So, we may have all watched this because it was a trashy trainwreck we couldn't take our eyes off of, but the ironic-ish lucky break aspect of this is that they became a sensation because of their classless, trashy ways, and now we've gone and made them rich celebrities... oh, wait...

Melrose Place (2009) - Katie Cassidy - While Melrose Place is the home of the trashy and rich, the actors playing these rich brats were pretty much unknowns as this show started up. Now while Melrose Place may end up getting canceled, Katie Cassidy is considered the most noteworthy and promising actor of the bunch, so it looks like canceled show or not, she's now in showbiz, baby!

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Who do you think has found the luck o' the Irish in the TV business this season?



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Mar 17, 2010 5:15PM EDT

what unfortunate circumstances led to Lauren Graham getting parenthood role?


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Mar 18, 2010 8:26PM EDT

@buttons4all - Lauren Graham's part on the show was originally filled by Maura Tierney of ER. They were planning to hold up production for her when she was diagnosed with breast cancer and needed treatment, but after a little while she decided to leave the show for the sake of her treatments. More info -

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