Chris Harrison has once again had to defend himself against his seemingly expendable role on The Bachelor. As much as I agree that we really don't need him to announce that "Ladies, Brad, this is the final rose tonight" since the editing makes it irritatingly impossible not to already know as much, I think we need to acknowledge that useless doesn't necessarily mean unwanted. Andy Richter, anyone?
One of my favorite dispensable-but-not-unwanted TV "stars" is the cool and collected Deshawne, Patti's driver on Millionaire Matchmaker. He is featured in somewhere between six and twenty seconds of each episode, unenthusiastically fielding Patti's questions as he carts her toward the millionaires. He's not really serving much of a purpose (in regards to the show itself), but no one will deny that he's a breath of fresh air from the featured crazies who are attracted to women because they like them some "muzzarell'."
The list continues with someone like Vanna White, probably the most impractical figure on TV logistically speaking; but because she is such an American icon, we all let it slide.
Then, of course, there are the non-icons: the useless and unwanted. Padma Lakshmi, for example: not quite a star, and definitely not necessary to the Top Chef dynasty: Tom introduces every challenge with her, so we don't need her there, and I'm far from taking her food critiques seriously since "cookbook author" doesn't really translate into food knowledge.
Even worse than Padma is everyone but the "third judge" on talent competition shows. By third judge, I of course mean the Simon Cowell of the group - be it Piers Morgan on America's Got Talent, Nigel Lythgoe on So You Think You Can Dance, Ben Folds on The Sing-Off... and so on. All the other judges are just decoration (tacky decoration, at that) - I'm convinced they are the reason DVR fast-forwarding exists.
The winning show for meaningless participation, however, is Big Brother, where everyone, from house guest to host to live audience member, is completely and utterly worthless. These people make Chris Harrison look like Walter Cronkite.