The Greatest HBO Character of All Time: Day Eight (Part 1)

For as long as I can remember I have loved Life cereal. I honestly don’t remember when it started, but I can say that one of my earliest Life-related memories was back when I was a young Ryno in the kitchen of my grandparents on the O’Connell side up in Brewer, Maine. Granddad had a thing for Life and I remember it being in one of the cupboards. Other cereals have drifted in and out of my life, but Life has been a constant.

So naturally, you can imagine how I felt when they introduced Cinnamon Life. I felt awesome, totally awesome. Now I had two favorite cereals- the old stand by and the new kid on the block. I loved them both equally and I consider it a good day when grocery stores have deals where you can get boxes of both- 2 for $5. Man, and you add some Honey Nut Cheerios to the mix and baby, you ain’t got a stew, but you have something that even Carl Weathers would find equally delicious. My darling wife has asked me on several occasions, which one do I like better- Life or Cinnamon Life. I have never been able to answer and instead I waffle between the two before finally mumbling that I can’t decide. I just like them both. Equally.

Why am I bringing this up?

Because my love of Life and Cinnamon Life and my inability to choose between the two is the easiest way I can sum up how I feel about the first match up we have today in Giddy Up America’s Greatest HBO Character of All Time Tournament.

The Tyrion Lannister Bracket: Round Three

1. Tyrion Lannister (Game of Thrones) vs 2. Omar Little (The Wire)

This is terrible.

You’re right, Andy. It’s horrible.

Well that seems a bit excessive.

Maybe not everything, but my brain definitely does.

And so is trying to pick between Tyrion and Omar.

I don’t even know where to start with this one. Just like with Life and Cinnamon Life, I love both Tyrion and Omar. Omar is Life, Tyrion is Cinnamon Life. I can’t pick between which cereal I like better! What makes me think I can pick which character I like better?

Facebook, help!

Dimitry: “Tyrion. Noseless dwarves who get more play then I do will always win.”

Okay, but that seems a little subjective.

Jammer: “Omar. The cheese stands alone.”

Noted. And great use of a reference from the show. All that schooling is paying off.

Krista: “I truly love both characters, but I’ll say this: Both scene-stealers (are) in series where beloved characters die unexpectedly, I think Tyrion is going to survive where Omar could not. Tyrion is too savvy to let his emotions get the better of him in the end. Plus he really makes the limp thing work for him (this was a problem for Omar).”

Hmmm. Interesting. Although Omar didn’t really die because of his emotions.

Mr. Joe Nixon: “I’m still leaning Omar, but man is it a close one. This might come down to the unfairness of spending only two seasons with Tyrion versus five with Omar, but we saw the full tragic arc of Omar’s story and we’re just at the beginning of Tyrion’s. Then again, the fact that it is so close after only two seasons means that Tyrion has a higher degree of difficulty, which could push him ahead. Damnit, now I’m thinking Tyrion for the upset. Can’t there be a tie?”

No. Ties are for blogs on Blogspot and businessmen.

Dimitry (again): “It would make things a lot easier if you can take into account the reality and totality of Tyrion’s character based on the books. Where we actually can compare 5 seasons of Omar vs 5 books with Tyrion. It wouldn’t even be a fair fight at that point as any of you who actually read the books can attest to.”

Save your book talk for libraries, sir.

Krista (in response to Dimitry): “So true. My response may have been biased since I read the books. Also, my future husband’s commentary was ‘Omar’s the Man. Tyrion’s the Half-Man.’ Do with that what you will.”

I will take that into consideration because that’s awesome.

Frankie: “I was thinking about this last night because I couldn’t sleep. I am leaning Omar but it would be ironic if Omar won this tournament. The tag line for The Wire was “all the pieces matter”. McNulty was great but only because he had the Bunk and Freeman as his moral and professional jimminy crickets. Bubbles was great but we cared deeply about him only after we were introduced to his family. Omar is the man but only because of how we felt about Avon, Stringer, Prop Joe and Marlo. Without them being the great threats and foils that they were it’s hard for me to imagine that we’d have the same feeling about Omar. Omar can win this tournament, but if he does we should look at is a win for the entirety of The Wire. All the pieces matter.”

Okay. But Omar has such a relationship with Avon, Stringer, Prop Joe & Marlo because of his chosen profession: stick up man. While I’m not sure my response makes sense (in my head it does) I think my point is that it’s the difference between situation and role. Omar had a role that deemed it necessary to interact with the drug dealers (and the cops, but don’t tell anyone.) McNulty’s role was cop, but he was in a situation that required counter-balances: Lester, Bunk, Greggs, etc.

Phil (this time with less attitude): “I’d go with Omar, but it’s real close. I think about it in the following irrational manner: put the characters into situations the other encountered. Tyrion is a master of talking his way out of impossible situations; Omar survives impossible situations. However, I think Omar would be just as able to get himself out of all the situations Tyrion gets into. Tyrion definitely doesn’t survive jumping out of a fifth floor window. I think Omar might have made it if they had thrown him out of that sky pit in season 1 of GoT. Plus, I’m assuming Stringer also advances, so you can have a rematch in the next round.”

Okay, so Phil brings up an interesting point and also a good jumping off point. Both Tyrion and Omar are fringe characters in each of their shows, whereas both operate on their own and outside of established groups. If anything Omar is slightly more of a fringe character because he has no allegiances, unlike Tyrion who is a family man working under the Lannister banner (as much as he might hate it sometimes.) If anything, this makes it easier to compare the two. Both play by their own rules, live by their own code and both do what they need to do to survive. Tyrion has his words, Omar has his shotgun and both use each to survive. You can’t even say one has it easier than the other. They are both surrounded by wolves (or in Tyrion’s case- also dragons, deer and a litany of other animals.)

So shit man, how the hell do we decide?

On the one hand, it’s easier to recall Tyrion’s brilliance because it’s fresh in our mind and still happening. But that same rationale makes it harder to judge him because as Joe points out, Omar’s story has already been told, while Tyrion’s is still being told. This has been an issue in other match ups- most recently yesterday when pitting Tony Soprano against Nucky Thompson. Nucky’s show is still going on and Tony’s is long since retired. What if Boardwalk Empire makes the leap this next season and Nucky somehow eclipses Tony? With that being a possibility, how is it fair to judge them now?

It’s not fair. But neither is life. So we take it for what it is. If life was fair, that thing that happened to Omar in the middle of season five of The Wire wouldn’t have happened and Tyrion would get his just deserved for his role in the Battle of Blackwater.

Let’s ask Erin, my sister. She’s good at answering questions.

“Omar. Fearless. No character like him. Never know what to expect. Driven and guided by the rules of the game. Sawed off shotgun.”

That’s a solid vote for Omar.

What we did yesterday when deciding between Larry David and Jimmy McNulty worked, so let’s try that.

Personal favoritism: pass
The character’s role on their show: Tyrion
Their length of time on their show: Omar*
Cultural significance: Omar
Memorable quotes and/or scenes: tie

Shit. That didn’t do anything.

What if we look at this way: Omar was basically a non-factor in two seasons of The Wire– seasons two and four. While we can all agree season two is the weakest of the five, season four was arguably one of the best. Can we imagine what Game of Thrones would be like without Tyrion? It’s hard to judge at first because there’s so many characters on the show, but when you consider that much like The Wire, everything on Game of Thrones is connected, it’s hard to imagine any stories moving forward without Tyrion. Omar rarely affected the main story lines in The Wire and if he did, it was like a wild card– no major shifts, just some funky alterations like in the Bird trial or his role in the Marlo/Avon feud. Looking at that way, it becomes apparent that Tyrion is the more important character.

But the better character?

Hmmm…President Obama loves Omar. That counts for something.

This is lose/lose, man. Both characters are awesome. Both characters were and are important to their show. Both characters have cultural significance.

I think when it comes down to it, it’s gotta be Omar. I’m not totally sure why and I can’t even say that I feel good about.

Hold on, let me ask my wife because that’s what good husbands do…

I want to say Tyrion, but my heart says Omar.

Wife says Omar. President Obama says Omar. Even Tyrion would probably say Omar.

There’s always next time, Half Man.

Winner: Omar

Next up: day eight continues with round three of the Stringer Bell bracket- Stringer versus Daenreys Targaryen.

Photos: HBO

 

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