Where would many of your favorite TV characters be without that rarest of all creatures in this world? What rare creature? Why, the person who can keep a secret. Really keep a secret. A number of classic and not-so-classic TV shows over the years have been built around a premise in which keeping something secret from most of the world was thought to be vital to their continued existence. Of course, in some cases, one has to wonder whether the revelation of the secret to the world would really change things all that much. Some TV series answer this question at least to an extent by eventually letting the secret get out to more and more people. Which does nothing to lessen the value upon which these great TV secret holders should be placed.
Major Healey: I Dream of Jeannie
When Major Nelson finds that bottle on the beach after the splashdown of his NASA space capsule, his whole life gets turned upside. Jeannie may be beautiful, call him Master and grant his every wish that is not in conflict with her own jealous possessiveness, but he often seems to spend most of his life going to ridiculous lengths to protect his secret. The only person he trusts enough to confide in is his best friend Major Healey. Major Healey is an example of a character specifically created to keep the big secret of the star.
Jake Ochmonek: ALF
Jake Ochmonek is the type of character that is a late addition to a show for the purpose of letting the secret out just a little bit. Jake was the nephew of the Tanner’s next door neighbors on “Alf” whom they had spent the first season and half of the second season keeping in the dark about their alien friend. Midway through the second season, Jake was introduced and became one of the show’s few secret keepers not related to the Tanners. Major Healey was a great secret keeper because he was vital to the integrity of the premise. Jake, not so much.
Amy Cassidy: Bosom Buddies
Keeping the secret of a friend who found a genie capable of granting wishes or the secret that the family next door is housing an alien from another planet is one thing, but keeping the secret that the girls who live across the hall are really guys is something else entirely. Amy Cassidy worked in the same advertising agency as Henry, the love of her life, and Kip, whom she barely tolerated. The stimulus for Amy keeping the real identity of the women known as Buffy and Hildy is therefore much more emotional and perhaps believable than some other famous secret keepers. Amy wanted to be near Henry. At the same time, however, keeping secret genies and aliens from a world that would only exploit or harm them is actually pretty noble. Not letting the women who live around you know they are exposing their own secrets and other things to men dressed as women brings into question any nobility in being a secret keeper.
Emerson, Chuck and Ned: Pushing Daisies
Keeping secrets is about half the premise of “Pushing Daisies.” Emerson, Chuck and Ned all keep secret from those around them that Ned has the power to bring people back from the dead and that Chuck is one of the people that he permanently brought back from the dead. These secrets must specifically be kept from Chuck’s (who is a woman) aunts and Ned’s Pie Hole assistant Olive. In effect, they are all secret keepers, but eventually you get to the point where you wonder if it is all necessary. Would it really be the end of the world of Chuck’s aunts knew she was brought back to life from the dead? Who are they going to tell that Emerson, Chuck and Ned won’t? “Pushing Daisies” is a great show, but it’s also an example of how sometimes a show relies on secret keeping as a narrative device that it doesn’t really need.