We like to cheer on the underdogs because their fortune is a kind of reassurance that there is, in fact, a way to beat the odds and succeed. The Pattersons encounter a few underdogs and it’s not always obvious who they are. Here are five of the most loved characters who we either didn’t expect to succeed, or whom we didn’t really think of as underdogs right away.
After the cut it’s number Three:
#3. Candace Halloran
Candace’s story comes at us in a different manner. We first are introduced to her through the eyes of her peers. In high school, we see Dawn and Liz talking about a group project for which Dawn says she promised Candace she’d work with her.
My comment: This is not where we are first introduced to Candace. In the beginning Candace was considered to be a part of Elizabeth’s gang of friends introduced into the group by Dawn much in the way Shawna-Marie was introduced, because Elizabeth is far too anti-social to attract friends by herself and Dawn was tired of being Elizabeth’s only friend.
Candace was intended to be the character where Lynn would introduce all the vices she felt were the failings of the younger generation in the 1990s. If she is an underdog in junior high and high school, it’s because Lynn Johnston was unrelenting in all the things she loads on Candace.
We get an implied anorexia/bulimia.
Although instead of binging and purging to get thin, Candace is a smoker.
Evil Candace convinces Dawn to get one of those haircuts Lynn hates on women, which many readers considered to be the best haircut Dawn ever had.
Then Candace has the temerity to judge Elizabeth for dressing like Patterson
Then Candace goes see-through
Then Candace interferes with Elizabeth and Anthony’s nonexistent love life.
Then Candace convinces Elizabeth to skip going home
Then Candace convinces Elizabeth to break up with Anthony so she could go with him to a dance. Frankly, this is the stupidest thing Candace ever does not because she betrays Elizabeth but because it’s Anthony. Have some self-respect!! This moment does officially pull Candace out of the group of friends that hang around with Elizabeth.
Then after all that, we finally get to the story about group projects that was supposedly Candace's first appearance. Also Shawna-Marie (the person replacing Candace in the group) makes her first appearance because, you know.
Most of Candace’s story is told through Liz, Dawn, and Anthony and we get the distinct impression that Candace is not a team player. We start out not liking Candace at all. I mean, who likes the person who makes the rest of the group do all the work in a group project, right?
My comment: Candace is a bad student that takes advantage of her friends. Remember this when Candace gets to the university and turns into a completely different student.
We’re even more askance when we see Candace after she shaves her head. She comes across as snobbish and elitist because she loudly proclaims that people must accept her for who she is instead of for her attributes – namely her “perfect hair”. It feels like an attempt to force approval from her peers and there is a small feeling of schadenfreude when she gets teased for her shaved head.
My comment: This is Elizabeth’s actual schadenfreude moment for Candace’s hair:
My comment: This is Candace’s final high school appearance and at this point she has parents and a brother and a limited time to drive a car. This will be different the next time Candace talks about her family.
Remember that face because when Candace reappears 2 years later, her face is completely different with different lips, nose and jawline. Elizabeth, however, still acts like a Patterson. The next person who treats Candace like an underdog is Elizabeth and her constant sniping at Candace.
Candace takes too long to get ready in the morning.
Candace still smokes.
Um. Elizabeth uses Candace’s shampoo? Does Lynn think college life means communal shampoo? Elizabeth continues to list her grievances and tells us readers pretty clearly why it is going to be tough for anyone to be married to Elizabeth.
Candace may be eccentric, but Elizabeth still dresses in her brother’s clothes.
It turns out that Candace gets good grades because she doesn’t study like a Patterson.
Candace retcons her life and claims she was a bully because people didn’t like her. I don't really remember Candace being a bully. Nevertheless, remember this because later on she will retcon her life again to blame her mother and the step-dad.
Elizabeth moves in with Eric and starts treating him like she treated Candace, proving it’s not Candace. It’s Elizabeth.
The fatal moment comes and Candace reveals it has been 1.5 years since she has been home. No more parents. No more brother, but we have the step-dad who hits on her. Notice that Elizabeth is aware of all this.
Later on, we learn from Candace herself, that her home life has been anything but “normal” and we get a brief glimpse into what it must be like to be Candace. It is much later in the storyline, and the kids are off at college but home for the December holidays. Candace shows up at the Pattersons’ and asks to stay the night. She tells Liz how her mother fights with her and how her mother’s boyfriend is targeting her with uncomfortable attention, leaning towards sexual assault. It feels like a brutal blow to our initial impression of her, and rightly so.
Candace tells Liz her story
My comment: Actually, Candace tells Elly her story, but she has her hair down, so I know that can be confusing. Liz already knows the story, but does not care. She is more concerned about her own love life because at this moment, she is out with newly-engaged Anthony. Candace is the underdog at this point because her family life has been transformed by Lynn to make her into an underdog. This is like same thing Lynn did to Gordon Mayes’ family. We get a mention of a family problem in order to get sympathy for a character and then it will never get mentioned again.
This is the very next comic strip. No one but Elly with her monstrous ego would consider Candace’s story to be a compliment to her.
There’s a lesson here too – when we encounter difficult people who try our patience, it is often important to remember that everyone is fighting their own private battles. Candace rises above her abuse; she is in college, she knows she has a safe haven for when she feels unsafe, and she has friends she can count on and she makes use of that later on life, even if she didn’t ask for help or talk about her challenges as a child.
My comment: There's a lesson here too. When Lynn tries to make a character look bad, she makes them look good and vice-versa. Candace has a safe haven because she starts living with her Aunt Ruby, who is apparently also taking care of Elizabeth too. So much for having a rich dentist father.