There are so many great female television characters, but honestly there are not nearly as many honest and well written women in television as there are men; they are either too one dimensional, too flighty, too over the top or display any other number of flaws that make them completely unrealistic and un-relatable. I think this is probably due, in great part, to the fact that the screenwriting profession is one (among many) professions dominated by men, and I don’t think many men have the capabilities of writing a truly great female character (who does, really?).
But this is a list of some of my favorite female television characters of all time. The ones that inspire me and continuously make me smile.
1) Elizabeth “Liz” Lemon, 30 Rock; My idol, my heroin, my archetype. What woman hasn’t been able to relate to L.L. in one way or another at some point? From her binge eating, lack of laundry-doing and generally non-existent social graces she is an exemplary role model for any woman.
2) Gemma Teller Morrow, Sons of Anarchy; Some might consider her to be, well… an evil bitch. But every evil and underhanded thing she does is under the pretense of protecting her family. She is without a doubt one of the strongest, most badass women on television, on top of being a loving and devoted mother, to her own family as well as every member of the club.
3) Dr. Temperance “Bones” Brennan, Bones; For those who have never caught an episode, Bones is a forensic anthropologist (which means she studies dead bodies… which is awesome) and a genius basically when it comes to all things science. Socially speaking, however, she is totally lost. Her awkwardness is hilarious and her brilliance is inspiring (Bones is also based on real-life anthropologist Kathy Reichs, who really did help the FBI solve murders and also produces and helps write all the episodes. Once again, awesome.)
4) Lorelai Gilmore (Sr.), Gilmore Girls; Lorelai is the mother no one had, but every girl wanted (and I know I’m not just speaking for myself here). While she may lose her cool every now and again she is always there with a shoulder to cry on, a witty come-back or suggestion for the perfect outfit. Basically Gilmore Girls is the most up-beat, optimistic, drawn-out episode of Sixteen and Pregnant that was ever created…
5) Dee Reynolds, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia; She’s crass and she’s rude and she’s kind of a little evil…. but I love her. She can drink like a fish, beat up masturbating homeless creeps and looks damn good dressed as a peacock. She’s one of the guys (as much as they might… well, hate her) and despite all the messed up stuff she’s done, you can’t help but hope she gets everything her wicked little cold black heart desires.
6) Joy Turner, My Name is Earl; Joy knows who she is and does not apologize for it. She may not be the most intellectual or the classiest but she always takes care of her own. While she makes mistakes, no one can doubt her ingenuity when it comes to living on less, her indomitable love for her family and overall badass-ness.
7) Buffy Summers, Buffy the Vampire Slayer; If you don’t agree with me you haven’t watched enough of the Slayer. Not only does she look super cute while literally kicking ass, consider that in 1997 Buffy was really a first of her kind; a main-stream action hero that has breasts and knows how to use mascara! The concept was revolutionary.
8) Murphy Brown, Murphy Brown; Most people my around my age or younger probably have never heard of or seen an episode of Murphy Brown (they used a lot of really great music in the original series, which was sweet, but made it nearly impossible to get the rights needed in order to show the program in syndication or even sell on DVD). Murphy is a brilliant no-nonsense, highly decorated news reporter. She tightly wound and struggles with her past addictions and habits while still maintaining her status as one of the greatest reporters of her time. She was also the first female television character to be a single mother; though the show received a great deal of flack it also began to make the single mother family structure more socially acceptable.
9) Detective Olivia Benson, Law and Order; SVU; Liv has been a staple of television for almost fourteen years now. In that time we have watched her become a modern day hero; saving countless lives (mostly those of innocent children) and putting way dozens of bad guys. But what makes Olivia even better is not only can she disarm a suspect and chase down a rapist, she can also (at times) be very vulnerable. She has regrets, she falls in love, she makes mistakes. Like all women, she is multidimensional.
10) April Ludgate, Parks and Recreation; I’m really just in love with April. I love her creepy lack of affect, her love of all things morbid, disgusting and depressing, her love of animals and playing pretend. And I love the way she loves her husband, Andy. Not to mention she is down right freaking adorable/sexy as hell.
11) Lady Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham, Downton Abbey; She is overtly dignified, stuck in her ways and unapologetic about it. She may be the eldest of the Downton clan but she has the quickest wit and perhaps the driest sense of humor. She has high standards for herself and everyone around her but she also knows when to forego the status-quo in order to do what’s right.