My class at Second City had auditions for our writing 6 show, a couple of weeks ago. The eight of us writers and our director had a bunch of actors come in, sing, improvise, and read sketches while we watched them and judged them. (Never, never, never become an actor. It looks terrible.) We needed to come to a consensus on the six actors we were going to have in our show.
I thought it was going to be easy. There were clear stand-outs who I liked immediately. People with a little edge who played well with others but kept their exuberance in check. It turned out that many of the other writers didn't feel the same way. A couple of my favorite people were rejected out of hand. And actors that other people loved were ones that I voted down, easily.
This probably isn't coming across as so remarkable to you - we disagreed on actors, so?
In my mind, someone's likability was more concrete than that. I thought people who drew me naturally and immediately drew everybody naturally and immediately. But this was not so!
It matters because creators, editors, and audiences argue about the likability of characters. A character or person's perceived "likability" can determine whether or not they get on the air. It matters because when someone doesn't like me, I tend to assume that everyone doesn't actually like me. And it matters because the ability to like someone or thing is something of a gift. Liking people or things feels awesome. It requires a degree of connection to that person, and feeling connected can be hard.
So what I'm taking away from this is the admonition to like ferociously. Be like a massive dog who bounds down the hallway when guests arrive and jumps all over their bodies because he's so excited to see them. Give hugs that crack ribs. Clobber people. Murder them in your elation over their existence. Like who you like, A LOT.