15) Geoffrey (Fresh Prince of Bel-Air)
Will Smith’s rocket to fame started with the prime time favorite, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. His character Will tries to deal with the upper-class after he moves to California to lives with his rich relatives.
And what do all rich relatives have? A butler of course. Enter Joseph Marcell. Marcell played the butler for the family, complete with perfect penguin suit and a dry monotone English accent.
Granted that a butler in a rich household is not the most original idea, but somehow Marcell made the character is own and the after the first season it was apparent that he was a vital part of the cast. His dry English accent was a perfect dead pan up against Will’s “street talk.” Geoffrey also was not afraid to speak his mind concerning the family’s antics.
During the second season, the writers allowed Marcell to loosen up the character a little, and only every once in a while which only added to the comedic affect. It is also important to note that the producers chose to portray the butler as a black man.
The show featured a predominately African American cast, but stereo type taboos of portraying domestic help as African Americans still prevailed. This was somewhat alleviated by the fact that Geoffrey was British instead of American and the fact that in no way did he ever portray himself as subservient.