It’s no secret that I watch a lot of TV – mostly DVR’d TV series – but I enjoy shows that showcase influential female characters. I don’t think of myself as a hardcore feminist, but it’s pretty hard to find a strong, female role model on something like Jersey Shore. Yeah, okay, I love reality TV, but there is just something about a character that makes you feel like you can learn something by watching her, and the show – where she has something very unique and individual to offer. So, I offer you a few powerful women characters on TV – some of them recent and some of them not so much – but all of them are admirable (to me at least) in a number of ways.
I can’t be the only one who wishes they could handle things the way Tami does! Tami Taylor, played by Connie Britton on Friday Night Lights, is sassy, supportive, loving, and holds high standards for the people in her life. As the moral grounding of the show, she remains neither preachy nor judgmental, always lends an ear, and encourages every character to reach for their potential. There are a few key phrases which, when said a soft Texas drawl, I’m convinced could solve the problems that come up with my family, in my job, and with the random teenagers of my neighborhood (who I’m sure will start coming to me for advice!).
- “I don’t think so.”
- “I appreciate that, I do.”
- “I don’t like your tone.”
- “There’s no weakness in forgiveness.”
The Cosby Show hasn’t been on the air for years, but Clair Huxtable is one that stands out from my childhood. Lawyer, mother, lover, friend – she is all things to all women. Yeah, it was just a TV show, and yeah, there were some pretty cheesy messages, but what was realistic was Phylicia Rashad’s portrayal of what it was like dealing with all those kids while holding down a professional career – and keeping up the romance with a husband who often acted like a sixth kid.
Temperance Brennan “Bones”
Bones (Emily Deschanel) is a world-famous forensic anthropologist. She works at the Jeffersonian Institute in Washington, DC, and writes novels on the side. Dr. Brennan partners with law enforcement (hot F.B.I. agent) to help identify bodies when the remains are basically – bones – hence the title of the show. She often intimidates or surprises others with her incredible intelligence (a genius!), direct communication style, self-defense skills, and her candid commentary about relationships. She is also proof that even if you’re not ready for marriage, children, or a relationship – and even if you don’t want one – you can be successful.
Dr. Lisa Cuddy
Lisa Cuddy is another strong, successful woman who does things her own way. As the Dean of Medicine and Hospital Administrator of Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital – she has simultaneously horrible and awesome taste in men, is a single mom, and doesn’t take no for an answer with her career, her family plan, or her boyfriend.
Brenda Leigh Johnson
Brenda Leigh is the character Kyra Sedgewick plays on “The Closer.” Brenda leads a special homicide unit assigned to the toughest cases and is known for her “closing” abilities. Often, female cops on television are made to look, dress, and act in a very masculine way. Brenda maintains her femininity, yet is very effective in her leadership and detective role. She is gorgeous in a real way – funny, brilliant, and successful – but she has problems too, so you’re never left thinking her life is perfect.
And finally, we have Dorothy Zbornak. Actually, you could say that the majority of the characters played by Bea Arthur were strong women. Maude was more than strong, she was like a revolution. But as far as Dorothy goes, I don’t know, I’d like to be like her at that age!
What strong female characters speak to you?