I thought since March is Women's History Month, I would do a few posts to celebrate the amazing women in film, both real and fictional who have inspired me. This post will focus on featuring some of the great women found on television. Especially considering all that came to light this past year about how women in the industry have been treated, hopefully, these posts will get you thinking and talking more about how women are considered both on and off screen. And make sure to check out my previous post about the Bechdel Test, to learn more about women's representation in films!
Television has been great in for the development of women in film. Unlike in a movie, where a lot of girls are cast as just a love interest, the best friend, or a mother figure, television shows allow us to get to know all of its characters more over many episodes. This allows them to develop more over time. There are many female characters that I love from TV, but this list will just discuss my absolute favorites. They are not in any particular order because let's be honest, there are enough lists ranking women out there, I don't need to do it here!
1. Brooke Davis - One Tree Hill
Okay, I know I said this list was not ranked, but I have to admit, Brooke Davis is definitely my favorite female character from a TV show. Every time I watch an episode of One Tree Hill, I am reminded of just what a unique and great female role model she is. She starts out the show as a spoiled, selfish rich girl, who pops up naked in the back of Lucas's car. As the show goes on though, she slowly starts to realize who she is and that she does not need to let boys and possessions define her. She starts her own fashion line, helps fund Peyton's record label, fosters a child, and even finds the man of her dreams to marry. She gets the total package, but not without failure and heartbreak first on her way to get there. Brooke always puts her friends and family first, almost to a fault, and is a great example of a woman in power who is also a kind and generous person. Not many other female characters that I can think of that own their own company are portrayed in such a positive light as she is.
2. Buffy Summers - Buffy the Vampire Slayer
I mean, can you really have a list of great female characters without Buffy? Joss Weadon's whole concept for the show was to see that the blonde cheerleader from all the horror films who is usually the first to die, could also kick butt. And he succeeded. Buffy is an incredibly powerful character, and it is so refreshing watching a show where the girl is always the one to save the day. Buffy is also a great character in that she is extremely relatable despite having supernatural powers. She falls in love, gets her heart broken, suffers loss, and even has to deal with taking the SATs. She definitely helped pave the way for many of the great female leads we have today on television.
3. Claire Fraser - Outlander
It would be hard to find another character quite like Claire. Even though she travels back in time to a period where women are not heard or respected, she does not let that stop her from achieving her goals. She is an extremely skilled surgeon, not afraid to show her sexuality, and is very intelligent and knowledgeable in many subjects. It is no wonder Jamie is drawn to her from the moment they meet.
4. Caroline Forbes - The Vampire Diaries
Caroline might not seem like the most obvious choice to make this list, especially since The Vampire Diaries has so many amazing leading ladies, how are you supposed to choose right? But when you look at the way Caroline developed over the entire course of the show, it's pretty obvious just how much of an amazing female character she truly is. Like Brooke, she starts out very selfish and controlling, but when she is turned into a vampire she turns into a true badass. She saves almost everyone on the show countless times, acquires so much self-confidence, and finds and loses love multiple times. Caroline is also the best of all the characters at controlling her vampire abilities. She is often a light that the other characters see which draws them back to the good side, especially since she has the amazing ability to see the good in others when they can't see it themselves. And of course, she throws the best parties and events Mystic Falls has ever seen. She is such a well rounded, strong, and independent person, you can't help but admire her.
5. Leslie Knope - Parks and Recreation
Leslie Knope is a character all women should be able to look up to. She is a woman in power who is dedicated to her work and is not discouraged being one of the few females in a male-dominated industry. She works hard to achieve her goals, is kind-hearted and giving, and is also lovable and fun. Leslie always puts others before herself and goes out of her way to make everyone in her life feel special. I could go on and on listing all of the great qualities that Leslie possess, but she is also just such a well-written character in that a lot of those attributes can also be her weaknesses. Because of her love for both her job and her loved ones, Leslie often times has trouble finding a healthy balance between work and her social life. She also sometimes becomes overbearing with her positivity, which makes her somewhat exaggerated personality seem grounded. But overall, she is a great example of a woman who knows what she wants and is not afraid to go after it.
6. Daenerys Targaryen - Game of Thrones
I loved Daenerys from the very first episode of Game of Thrones and only grew to love her more as the show went on. Daenerys begins the show as a timid naive girl who just does whatever her brother tells her because she has never known anything else. But when she marries Kahl Drogo and realizes the influence she can have over such a powerful man, she truly begins to come into her own. She learns her new husband's language and rules confidently by his side. As she carries on throughout the show, Daenerys makes sure to never again let a man tell her what to do. But, she is also respectful of the opinions of those around her whom she recognizes are more knowledgeable than her when it comes to war. She is kind, passionate, and in my opinion, definitely, the best choice to rule the Iron Throne.
7. Annalise Keating - How to Get Away With Murder
I just remember watching the first episode of How to Get Away With Murder and thinking, wow, we have yet to see a woman like Annalise yet on TV, and we need to see more like her. While she starts out the show as the typical woman who is great at her job, so she must act like a bitch to get things done, we have since seen many sides to this amazingly complex character. She is vulnerable, motherly, strong, intelligent, and above all confident in herself. Even when she is put in the toughest of situations, we always know Annalise will find a way to get out of it and will come out the other side a stronger person. She is also definitely not perfect and is a great example of a well rounded female character. And lastly, she is able to show the perspective of a strong female woman of color, which allows her to display characteristics and viewpoints we do not normally get to see from a lead character on television, something I hope we continue to get to see more of.
8. Lorelai Gilmore - Gilmore Girls
Lorelai Gilmore is a character that I feel like people have very different opinions on. Some admire her for the way she was able to raise a daughter and establish a life all on her own at the age of 16. Others condemn her for leaving her rich family in the first place just because she did not always agree with their opinions. But either way, you can not deny that no matter what, Lorelai is an amazing single mother, a vision we do not usually see portrayed so fully on the small screen. She does whatever she has to to make sure that Rory will have the best possible life, and she makes sure that they both remain true to who they are no matter what. But she is not without flaws, Lorelai is stubborn, not always the most motivated, and has a great deal of trouble with commitment in relationships. It is these things though, the fact that she is not perfect, that make her such a relatable, and fun character to watch.
9. Clark Griffin - The 100
There are so many reasons that I love Clark, but before I get into that, I feel like I need to first pay respect to the show which brought her to life. The 100 is such an underrated show, that does something I have not seen anywhere else. Since it takes place so far into the future, and the main goal of all the characters is to just stay alive, no one is judged based on things they can not change. No one is ever turned away or questioned based on their gender, race, or sexuality. In fact, Clark begins the show falling for a guy named Finn, but after he dies she begins falling for a woman named Lexa. There are no questions from anyone about if she is bi or gay, everyone just already accepts that she dates both genders and moves on. I don't think I have seen anything like this yet on TV. Clark is also strong, independent, and a great leader, who is shown to have to make some difficult choices with such confidence.
10. Beth Pearson - This is Us
There are so many things to love about This Is Us, and towards the very top of the list is Beth. Coming from someone who suffers from constant anxiety, it has been so refreshing to watch Randall's portrayal of this illness on the show. And just like I could not deal with it alone, and without my significant other being so understanding, neither can he without Beth. Beth is calm, collected, and good in a crisis. She is also smart, beautiful, strong, and so much more. I admire her so much and am so glad to see someone like her on screen.
So there you have it! My top ten favorite female characters on TV. Now I want to hear from you! Which characters from the small screen do you admire? Let me know in the comments below.
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