He might be gaining major accolades and award show buzz thanks to his performance in Fruitvale Station (out in New York and L.A. today; everywhere July 26), but Michael B. Jordan is a familiar face to fans of Texas football, Baltimore street life, and overly talkative families, thanks to his work on beloved television dramas like Friday Night Lights, The Wire, and Parenthood. Regardless of the role in which you first came to know him, it’s highly likely at least one of his performances has made you well up like a baby–he’s just got that touch.
For those who aren’t familiar with the 26-year-old actor, we’ve created a quick cheat sheet for some of MBJ’s most poignant moments over the years to help get you up to speed. Whether your older brother has been telling you to watch The Wire since before you got your first Facebook account, or you just got broken up with (on a Post-It) and are in serious need of a release, here are five ways to give those tear ducts a workout. Log on to Netflix, borrow your neighbor’s HBO Go password, and take a deep, deep breath.
1. Wallace, The Caregiver
The Wire, Season 1 Episode 12
“Hold up, take your plates first!” Wallace tells a group of hungry children upon arriving with fresh Chinese food. This short glimpse into his living arrangement provides more insight into the life of a 16-year-old who is not only raising himself, but a gaggle of children in one of the harder neighborhoods of West Baltimore. Wallace provides for his team, helping with homework, distributing meals, and, of course, teaching proper etiquette during meal time.
2. Teach Me How To Be Better
Friday Night Lights, Season 5 Episode 3
Vince Howard’s sudden reunion with his much absent father is not as happy as his mother would hope, bringing years of resentment and frustration to the surface. Vince’s dad hasn’t been around much thanks to a prison sentence, and when he has, his rash decisions have had detrimental effects on the family–especially his mother. After serving as the man of the house and bearing the brunt of his parents’ dysfunction, QB1 confides in his coach (Kyle Chandler) about what he’s going through: “I don’t know how to be better, because he never taught me how! He never taught me how to be better!” Fortunately for Vince, Coach Taylor always has a life lesson at the ready.
3. Alex Breaks Up With Haddie (And Her Mom)
Parenthood, Season 3 Episode 4
After initial hesitations about Haddie (Sarah Ramos) dating a 21-year-old recovering alcoholic, Alex becomes a part of the Braverman clan thanks to his friendly demeanor and ability to patiently withstand one of Max’s passionate beetle discussions. Even if you didn’t think the frustrating daughter of Adam (Peter Krause) and Kristina (Monica Potter) deserved the affections of someone so lovely and selfless as Alex, his visible response at the realization that breaking up with his girlfriend also means breaking up with her family is hard to shake.
4. ’This Is Me, Yo”
The Wire, Season 1 Episode 12
D’Angelo gives Wallace an out, the Baltimore police department gives him an out, and yet, the young man who’s barely left his own street corner in the last 16 years can’t bear to look weak in the eyes of his peers, and can’t go through with fulling leaving “The Game.”
5. “Don’t Go”
Friday Night Lights, Season 5 Episode 10
Coach Taylor gave a kid on the verge of throwing his life away a chance, instilling character and leadership in the process. It wasn’t always sunshine and roses, but with his tumultuous home life (see above) there’s no question Vince doesn’t want to see his surrogate father walk out the door to run drills with some other football team. Here, he makes his case for why Coach should stay (Texas forever, right?) and their entire relationship is summed up beautifully in three sentences. Watching this scene only makes figuring out who Coach loves the most–a question that routinely keeps us up at night–all the more difficult.
And if you need something to yell during said moment of emotional catharsis, we have a suggestion…
Yes, 11 years have passed, but we still haven’t moved on.
[Photo: Getty Images]