2017 is fast approaching, and with it, a slew of expectations that it will somehow treat us better than the past year. My own 2016 was filled with highs and lows. Highs: I got to travel more (and often for free) than I have in ages. I moved to a new city. I got more work published than ever before. My kid is happy and healthy. Lows: I attended funerals for two well-loved individuals. Another old friend was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. I wasn’t able to save a dime thanks to unexpected costs. And I haven’t been able to care for myself as much as I would have liked and probably needed. Thus, I am turning to television for inspiration and invoking my favorite feminist TV heroines for advice.
Peggy Olson (Mad Men)
It’s hard not to look up to tough-as-nails, copywriting badass Peggy Olson from Mad Men. She went from timid secretary to being a creative lead at top ad agencies, surrounded by the men who would keep her down if they could. I invoke Peggy for her ability to move on after challenges and tragedies, for her incredible work ethic, and for her general bad-assery.
Alicia Florrick (The Good Wife)
I remember being skeptical about watching The Good Wife, thinking it was going to be a dull CBS lawyer show. Instead, Julianna Margulies brought the character of Alicia Florrick to a whole new level and caught hold of my attention span. You might not think a wife that stays with a cheating husband would make for a good feminist TV heroine, but you’d be wrong. Alicia’s ability to see the bigger picture, her resolve to only do things on her terms, the way she bounces back after doors get shut on her…all these traits inspire me. And actually, Kalinda and pretty much all the other women on this show are fantastic and inspiring as well.
Leslie Knope (Parks & Rec)
Who doesn’t automatically think of Leslie Knope when considering feminist TV heroines? Leslie is pragmatic as hell. She’s unbelievably organized and meticulous. She is kindhearted, generous, and a wonderful friend. And she has incredible drive to do the things she sets out to do and rarely takes no for an answer. Especially at a time when we’re on the brink of political upheaval, we need to invoke our inner Leslie Knope and stat.
Daenerys Targaryen and Arya Stark (Game of Thrones)
They are both so different, sure, but they are also a lot alike. Both are driven, especially in the face of adversity. They are quick thinkers and great at getting out of scrapes. They are brilliant and resilient all at once. Plus Dany has dragons and Arya can change her face and be anyone she wants. So really, there’s no reason not to love these feminist TV heroines.
Stella Gibson (The Fall)
Stella doesn’t give a damn what you think. She can come off a bit cold, but that’s just her being a professional (and let’s face it–you wouldn’t say that if she were a man). Stella is also very realistic. She deals with misogyny daily with a grain of salt and something of a chip on her shoulder to deflect the bull that’s often thrown her way. Plus she’s at least a little bit queer. Anyway, what I really want to say is that Gillian Anderson is my feminist TV heroine because everything she does turns to gold and I cannot wait to see her in the next season of the Fall (and hopefully of the X-Files as well).
Christina Yang (Grey’s Anatomy)
Yang might have left the show, but her presence continues to exist on Grey’s. Christina’s character remains on everyone’s minds because she was a force to be reckoned with. A gifted mind, and a gifted set of hands, and a gift for being able to prioritize her life and never let unexpected shit get in her way. She’s also one of those rare few characters who got an abortion on television (bravo to her for doing what was best for her). In 2017, invoke your inner Christina Yang: study hard, work harder, impress people, make your enemies uncomfortable, love passionately, and at the end of the day, always have tequila and a good friend around to dance the world away.
I know there are plenty others I must be leaving out, but these are certainly at the top of the list. Who are your favorite feminist TV heroines? Which feminist TV icons inspire you to be your baddest (most feminist) self? Let me know in the comments below.