Five TV shows with kickass female characters

Did you know that only 30% of TV writers in the United States are women? That means that 70% of the content consumed by the American public is written by men, and the result is often painful to watch. Situation comedies like Everybody Loves Raymond and According to Jim are on my most hated list because the women have no depth to them – except for the fact that they are wives and get angry because of (supposedly) stupid things. Ain’t that hilarious ha ha ha, Debra is yelling at Ray again, what a bitch.

Actually, no it’s not hilarious. It is, quite frankly, the equivalent of a fart joke. I’m not saying that all women on TV are badly written. But the ones who are make me wonder if the writers have ever interacted with females at all. Are their wives’ lives revolved around them? Do they have no other interest or feelings except for anger and reconciliation?

Don’t even get me started on Two and a Half Men.

Anyway here are SEVEN shows you can watch if you want to avoid clumsy, depthless females on your screen. In no particular order (though I am quite partial to Gilmore Girls).

1)      Gilmore Girls

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This show has an interminable list of kickass female characters. Main characters Lorelai (Lauren Graham) and Rory (Alexis Bledel), mother and daughter, are clever, witty and sharp who have intelligent conversation with about a million pop culture references. The mother-daughter relationship is the focus of the show as Rory pursues her dream of going to Harvard.

The charismatic town of Stars Hollow (and its surroundings) is where it all happens and it takes no time at all for you to fall in love with the characters, the scenery and the fast-paced conversations.

But let’s talk about the women. Lorelai is a self-made woman who ran away from her extremely wealthy parents when she got pregnant with Rory. Though she started as a maid in the local inn she worked her way up to manager and raised Rory by herself (and with a little help from her Star Hollow quirky friends).

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Then there’s Rory, a brilliant young woman whose ambition is to go to an Ivy League school. She’s strong, sometimes shy, a tad socially awkward, studious and funny. The real treat is when both Rory and Lorelai are onscreen, bouncing off of each other, talking about anything and everything.

The great thing about this show is that it shows that a girl or woman can be a hard worker, a pursuer without surrendering their interest for boys or men. They’re not mutually exclusive; a woman can get a career and get married, they don’t need to take care of a middle aged man who gets home at the end of the day and expects dinner to be on the table (cough, cough – The King of Queens, I am looking at you). Their world doesn’t have to revolve around their romantic interests.

The female minor character are also amazing.

2)      Scandal

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This is a relatively new show that I only just started watching. By the creator of Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal is the first American network drama series to have an African American actress as a lead since 1974’s Get Christie Love!

Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) makes problems go away. At first she is a Communications Manager for the White House, working to keep the President’s (Tony Goldwyn) reputation clean and pristine. However it is her own presence in the White House that might ruin POTUS’s reputation as they are having an affair.

For reasons you should find out on your own, Olivia Pope leaves her post at the White House and start her own crisis firm.

What is so great about this show? Well, Olivia Pope is tough and knowledgeable but she is also human in her weakness for the President. She has actual depth, she’s not defined by one quality.

And let me just mention a quote about the show that I absolutely love, and it pretty much says everything.

“[This show] has prompted discussion among academics and fans of the show about whether Scandal represents a new era of post-racial television, in which cast members are ethnically diverse but are not defined by their race or ethnicity.” – Tanzina Vega, The New York Times.

3)      Parks and Recreation
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I have declared my love for this show before. It is feminist and hilarious. The determination of Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) to succeed and break up the “boys’ club” that is the American government in a light hearted and sometimes disastrous fashion makes for clever dialogue and ultimate proof that women are funny.

Breaking stereotypes like “friendships between women are catty and it’s better to be one of the guys” and the pathetic “can she have it all?”, Parks & Rec is the best feminist show around at the moment.

4)      Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

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Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) has been putting paedophiles and sexual abusers in jail for 14 years now. I will happily sit for hours watching this fearless woman put disgusting men away and learning about things like victim shaming, slut shaming, victim blaming, rape culture, the backlog of rape kits in the state of New York, etc etc.

And I think that, for women, it is a release to see these men put away. Rape conviction rates are extremely low…

Fleet Street Fox pointed out that last year a total of 23,582 rapes were reported in India, which means that every 20 minutes a woman is raped in India. She then goes on to say that the UK is no better, with one rape taking place every 40 minutes. According to the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), 54% of rapes and sexual assaults are not reported to the police in the US. Putting this figure together with that of reported rapes that rarely get prosecuted (only about 9% ever make it to court), only about 3% of rapists ever serve a day in an American jail (statistics as early as 2010).” – I am sick of rape culture so listen up, by yours truly

I can say that personally, I am terrified of being raped. It’s a fear every woman has to live with when walking down a dark road. But seeing Olivia Benson fight for her victims makes me feel a little bit safer, as stupid as that sounds.

5)      Dariatumblr_mowya0A0eY1s3ta29o1_500

Daria is grumpy, cynical and misanthropic. And that’s awesome.

Women are expected to be nice, not rude and antagonistic. They’re meant to smile and please people. But Daria doesn’t take any of that and she is just who she is, a cynical and hilarious I-hate-the-world teenager.

Her character reminds me of a recent campaign called “Stop telling women to smile”. It’s that whole thing: if a woman is in a bad mood, she has to pull herself together and be nice – what, are you on your period or something? Or the infinitely more annoying You are too emotional about this subject so let’s not talk about it.

Pleasing people isn’t your job. You don’t have to do it. You don’t have to adjust your behaviour to be nice to a guy who asks you out. You don’t have to pretend it’s flattering. If you don’t like someone or something just be honest. Say “No thanks dude” and move on.

And that’s what Daria is about.

Bonus: Veronica Mars and Buffy the Vampire Slayer are also badass but I haven’t watched them so I can’t really write my thoughts about it. Why don’t you comment below and tell me why they’re BAMFs?

“Nobody tells an actor, ‘you’re playing a strong-minded man.’ We assume that men are strong-minded. A strong-minded woman is a different animal.” – Meryl Streep
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7 thoughts on “Five TV shows with kickass female characters”

  1. Also worth noting that the Gilmore girls talk to each other about things other than men quite frequently, but the men in the show rarely talk to each other about subjects other than the girls themselves. Which makes a lovely change, for once.

  2. The fact that the bit on Gilmore Girls when Rory dresses and acts like a 50s housewife for Dean is so repulsive to the viewer tells you all you need to know about why that show is great.

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