If you haven’t already noticed from my past videos – I love tv. It is my hobby, my interest, my crutch, my rock, and my favorite.
I watch while I work, while I research, while I write, while I tweet, gif, plan, Instagram, Facebook, etc. I am pretty much constantly watching television. And I have this sticker to prove it.
So this blog post is focused on television and the impact certain female characters have had on my life. I tried to list them in order of when I first started watching the shows they’re on so just bear with me here.
#1 Lizzie McGuire.
Thank you Disney Channel for helping me navigate my young adolescent life as guided by Hilary Duff ie. Lizzie McGuire herself. Now I never had cable growing up so Lizzie McGuire was strictly a Saturday morning show for me – as in the one day of the week the regular broadcast channels would play Disney Channel shows. I woke up early every Saturday of my young life just to get my fill of cable television.
So what made Lizzie so special? I think it was just how normal she was. She wasn’t a secret superstar, or a time traveler, she was just a girl navigating through teenagedom. I think if I’m being honest, the best part of the show was her cartoon conscience – a little animated self who broke the third wall and describe her real thoughts and feelings to the audience. It wasn’t just like here’s what Lizzie does, it was here’s why she does it. And there’s something incredibly important about giving a young teenager real thoughts and feelings and not just making her a one-dimensional caricature of a person… Lizzie was relatable.
#2 Rory & Lorelai Gilmore.
My second person, who’s really two persons but I thought I’d combine them for the sake of time, is Rory and Lorelai Gilmore. Ah, the Gilmore girls. Now you’ve heard me talk about them before – I have an entire video just dedicated to the wonderful show that is Gilmore Girls but this is less about the show as a whole and more about the characters.
Okay so since Lorelai is the mother we’ll start with her. She’s a strong, beautiful, fast-talking, coffee-guzzling, mess – and unapologetically so. She is Lorelai – take it or leave it. She makes bad decisions sometimes, but she learns from them. After getting pregnant at 16 she raised a child (Rory) on her own and worked her way up from a maid to the owner of her very own Inn. She is ideal in that she really is counter to any real ideals (besides her looks of course). She scarfs down pie and hamburgers and charms with her quick wit. And she raised Rory to do the same.
Alright so Rory, I love Rory for many of the reasons I love Lorelai – in that she is strong and can hold her own. Her love of books and knowledge set her apart from some of her peers, but it is her kindness and honesty that truly make her a great character. But as with Lorelai, Rory makes some bad choices – but like her mother, she survives.
They teach girls that its okay to be loud, and talk out of turn, and make mistakes. You can be girly and strong and feminine and still rule the world. You can love, and lose, and win. You are more than one defining trait.
#3 Pam Beasley-Halpert.
The third TV woman who shaped my life is Pam Beasley from The Office. Now I’ve watched this show in its entirety more times than I can count, and Pam’s growth in it still amazes me. When The Office first started she was a quiet, soft-spoken receptionist, with a secret love of art, and engaged to Roy – a dude who literally never appreciated her, and took her for granted. She has accepted her lot in life and is basically just living with it, saying “Dunder Mifflin this is Pam,” every time she answers the phone and pretending not to notice that Jim is pining for her. So the show goes on and she courageously breaks up with a man who took her for granted, goes to art school, pursues her dreams, gets married to Jim (who appreciates her), becomes a mother, etc.
I still remember the episode where the Office is on the beach and there’s the like walk of coals and Michael is trying to see who’s brave enough to walk across and Pam volunteers and he tells her no because at this point she’s still the receptionist – so later when nobody is watching she literally just runs through the coals just to see if she can. I remember watching that and just being in awe of her bravery and courage.
#4 Cristina Yang.
The next person on my list is Cristina Yang from Grey’s Anatomy. Now if you’ve ever seen an episode of Grey’s Anatomy, you probably already know why she’s included in this video. She’s a strong, independent, driven, relentless surgeon.
She is great at what she does, and she doesn’t pretend not to be. She tells it like it is when others won’t. And she dances it out, when she’s feeling low. She’s confident. She stands up for herself, and the people she cares about. She’s Meredith’s ‘person’ and would go into battle for her. She saves lives. She gets angry. She knows her worth, and accepts nothing less than perfection.
There are many other great female characters on Grey’s worth mentioning that I won’t go into great detail about like Meredith, Callie, Lexie, Bailey, etc.
#5 Mindy Lahiri.
The final character on my list is Mindy Lahiri of The Mindy Project. This show is only in its third season which is why its last but not least in this roundup of female characters.
In the show Mindy is to be honest, a hot mess. She dates all the wrong guys, and rides her bike into a stranger’s pool after crashing her ex’s wedding. But she’s so much more than her romantic decisions. She’s confident, self-possessed and laden with pop culture references. She eats what she wants, she wears what she wants, and she says what she wants. But most importantly she believes in herself.
It took me all of the first 5 seconds of the pilot to become obsessed with her character – it starts with a voiceover throwback montage of clips of her talking about how much she loves Romantic Comedies so like duh.. I think the line that really won me over though was “In college, everything changed, no supervision, total freedom – I could watch Romantic Comedies whenever I wanted.”
There are many other female TV characters that are near and dear to my heart that I did not include on this list mostly because I didn’t want to literally write a book, but I’ll just briefly mention them right now: Leslie Knope, Donna Meagle, Jessica Day, Tami Taylor, Kristina Braverman, Kelly Kapoor, Kate Austen, Lily Aldrin, Blair Waldorf, and many more.
Why They Matter.
I wanted to make this because I think we underestimate the importance of TV, and having female characters who are multidimensional. I was fortunate enough to find these ladies on my screen and learn some lessons from them – whether that be about life, love, or the pursuit of chicken wings. They taught me to speak up. To not be ashamed of my interests. To pursue my goals. And that it’s okay to mess up.