It is a truth universally acknowledged, that people watching TV like to feel identified with the characters in the story they’re following. Women, with our strong sense of community and need for relationships, know this even more than men.
While we are common in this way, obviously no two women are the same (let’s be real - that would be just plain boring). Women don’t look the same, don’t like the same things, don’t have the same jobs or participate in the same activities.
The plurality of pov's and female characters seen on TV today didn't always reflect these differences. Even if today some shows with great ratings continue to objectify women, the truth is women have come a long way and there are a lot more shows that celebrate the diversity that exists among us.
In some genres, there have always been the archetype of the strong woman (aka The Badass) that would most likely be the love interest of the male lead. However in the 90’s, some shows (and movies) started to tell stories about these characters not only in regards to their relationship with the male lead, but in respect to their own story and goals - it was't just a love equation. It has allowed the TV scenery to flourish with the characters that we see today, beyond being tethered to a certain genre.
We have nerdy introverts that struggle to live life and keep on going finding a place on earth; we have the nerdy extroverts that like to make the people they love happy and want to change the world, like Leslie Knope; there are the ladies that don’t know what to do with their lives, others do know exactly where they’re going and what they’re doing, for example Miranda Bayley and Donna Paulsen; some overcame abusive partners and are healing, like Abby Whelan or Carol Peletier; women that don’t always make the best choice but keep going. Characters one can empathize with because one treat or another, because of their flaws, tastes, virtues, values; there’s something we can relate to, we can admire or disapprove, but understand.
There are characters that struggle with their own baggage while fighting for justice for others, like Kate Beckett; and characters that lost everything but always put others before their own happiness, like Juliet Burke. We even relate to characters that fight evil in apocalyptic worlds, and know how to handle a gun, maybe, better than any man or a computer as much as any other team member.
We see ladies that had travelled in time, with only their own selves as the biggest enemy. Take HG Wells for example, having to overcome her own story to redeem herself. There are characters that never felt love and life hadn't helped them either; Reginal Mills is the Evil Queen - but we can understand why. Sometimes, (most of the time, in my case, at least) we even find ourselves rooting for them. We have ladies that kick zombies’ butts, lawyers, doctors, working moms, single moms, first ladies, retailers, ballerinas, unemployed, politicians, producers, actresses, cops, fairytale characters, vampires, doctors, nurses, FBI agents, chefs, spies, queens, assistants, paralegals, students,etc. A whole spectrum of professions is reflected in the small screen; as many professions as types of personalities. Little by little the representation of women in TV is becoming more real (for example, slowly, it seems, not all the characters look like as if they are out of the hair salon.)
There’s still a big road ahead until television reaches a point of gender equality, but it’s refreshing to watch this wide range of diversity. March 8th is International Women’s Day and in turn the perfect date to celebrate the fictional women gracing our TV screens and becoming part of our lives.
As there are many more characters that I had forgotten or am not yet acquainted with on TV, I’ve asked the knowledgeable team of writers at SpoilerTV for their favorite women in TV. Here they are:
- Sharon Seymour mentioned: Dana Scully, Temprance Brennan, Debra Morgan, Carrie Mathison, Elizabeth Jennings, Joan Watson, Sarah Linden, Sister Jude Martin and Constance Langdon.
- Jamie Coudeville talked about Kate Beckett, Elena Gilbert, Haley James Scott and Nikita Mears
- CJ Allan’s favourites are Buffy and Willow and Sarah Walker. Lucy Perussi’s choices were Alicia Florrick and Kalinda Sharma, Brenda Leigh Johnson, Andy, Gail and Tracy from Rookie Blue and Veronica Mars
- Darth Locke named Charlie Matheson and Rachael Matheson, all the ladies from Lost, all versions of Olivia Dunham, Nina Sharp, Astrid Farnsworth, Elisabeth Bishop, and Etta Bishop; Sydney Bristow, Irina Derevko, Nadia Santos, Joss Carter, Zoe Morgan, Laura Rossalin, Caprica 6, Messenger Six, Diana (the 3's), Callie, Boomer/Athena (8's), and Admiral Kane
We would like to know, what are your favorites? and Happy Women’s Day!
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