Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Five Female Characters I'm Glad Exist on TV

I was thinking about updating my list of favorite TV characters when considering different things to do for list posts. (by the way list posts are all the rage the way of the future, etc. thanks Buzzfeed)

But I don't really know that I think of characters in terms of favorites as much anymore, I have my old standbys but the rest are fleeting, etc. But there are certain characters that I'm glad exist on TV because they feel different to me somehow, underrepresented segments of society or just fresh in some way. So here are five female characters I'm glad exist on TV, that I enjoy watching, in some cases that I love and might have made a list of favorite characters if I did that. (or do it in the future)

Jackie Florrick on The Good Wife

I was tweeting with someone just the other day about how it was hard for me to conceive of the idea of an Jessica Fletcher type character even being greenlit for TV nowadays. Elderly characters are in short supply and ones that might fully showcase the condition of moving on into this part of life (as opposed to Maggie Smith's character on Downton Abbey who gets to shoot off snappy lines and not much else) seem even rarer. It's for this reason first and foremost that I'm glad Jackie Florrick exists, that her character rings true as an elderly woman for me, that she continues to be overly involved in her son's life, that she has opinions and an agenda, she's sharp around the edges, borderline awful at times, and feels SO REAL. I remember especially feeling that during the second season The Good Wife allowed Jackie to be both an antagonist to Alicia, but one with fully realized motivations. She was lonely and watching Peter's family fall apart affected her own life quite a lot. This portrayal of the way a family breaking affects the whole family was one of the better things about the show. Jackie's own traditional ideas about what makes a good wife and mother vs. Alicia's own attempts to manager her life are always very interesting to watch.

And in this last season, I really loved her relationship with Cristian! It amused me and it was funny to watch Peter get upset about it. I'd really hate for it to turn out that he's really an evil dude. Anyway, I also give full credit to Mary Beth Peil who I think does a great job of bringing Jackie to life.

Sarah Linden on The Killing

One of the biggest things I just LOVE about Sarah is that she's no fuss. I've watched a lot of crime procedurals in my day and it's always sort of hard to believe that all the female detectives and police officers are really that gorg on the job. (of course there's nothing wrong with looking stylish and beautiful, it just sort of reminds me of what Maggie Q says about how men think women fight in their high heels!) But Sarah wears her hair in a ponytail, no/little makeup, and carries on the tradition of the Scandinavian sweater of her predecessor, Sarah Lund. Sarah is consumed by her job, a workaholic who is willing to go the extra mile in order to see justice done. And you know what else? She's not an ideal mother. She puts her work ahead of her son. And that's such a breath of fresh air because while women are often allowed to be many things, they are very rarely allowed to be bad mothers and still be rootable characters. (obviously I'm not saying Yay! Bad Mothers! what I'm saying is that this is like the big untouchable area for women, in order for female characters to be sympathetic they are often depicted as excellent mothers even if show evidence seems to be the contrary, see: Alicia Florrick) Probably could spend some whole other time on this subject as it fascinates me. But anyway, these are some of the reasons I love Sarah and find her unique.

Also, even though Sarah dresses down, Mireille Enos is stunning. And she has a very unique way of acting out Sarah, like the weight of the world is on her shoulders, the whole way she carries herself as Sarah is different to who she actually is...facial expressions and all.

Tawney Talbot on Rectify

I briefly mentioned Tawney in my post about what kind of characters I'd like to see on TV and there's no way she wasn't going to make this list. Tawney is an evangelical Christian who is allowed to be one hundred percent an evangelical Christian without being treated in show like she's wrong, evil, crazy, or stupid. In fact, I was delighted to find this quote from Abigail Spencer about Ray MacKinnon and his characters because it's exactly how I feel about Tawney, that she's been so compassionately and lovingly drawn. Tawney believes wholeheartedly in God, believes God is everywhere, and believes that if Daniel gets saved and baptized, he'll be happier. She does genuinely care about him, but she also cares about his eternal soul and that motivates her greatly in reaching out to him, even when her husband would prefer she didn't. But this caring and compassion provides Daniel with someone to talk to and they strike an unlikely friendship that spawns some of the series best moments to date.

But I also love all the other little touches that go into Tawney, like her discomfort with her husband's raw longing for her sexually, and her own naked body. She's just visibly uncomfortable with it, and that makes so much sense for a girl who of her background.

Daphne Vasquez on Switched at Birth

It's not that TV has never had a deaf or hard of hearing character before, but Daphne might be the first teen main character who is deaf. And I love that she has an uneasy relationship with being deaf, she's never only ever gung ho about it. She hates it at times, that her deafness makes her a target for other people and creates bigger challenges for her to succeed. But even while she feels that anger, she never succumbs to self pity and she doesn't depend or rely on other people to fix her problems or make things right. She's been deaf since a young age, and her mother is an alcoholic, so she's always had to be rather adult.

Switched at Birth is endlessly interesting in its exploration of identity and clashing cultures. Hearing world/deaf world, upper class/working class/ white/Latin, etc. Daphne embodies so many of these conflicts. If I ever get around to writing about my favorite relationships on TV, her relationship with Regina will definitely be on the list because I love how deep and conflicted it is. Knowing that her mother knew about the switch and didn't make things right leads to a lot of questioning for Daphne that never really goes away. It's the kind of relationship break that can never fully be healed.

Daphne is also very empathetic and takes her own experiences to heart when interacting with others. She wants to see things be made right for them. And she tries to come to grips with her new birthright...a wealthy family with connections when in the past she's had to do everything for herself/work hard for it. It's an interesting struggle to watch.

Michonne on The Walking Dead

It might seem strange to include Michonne since she seems very much a popular character type...she's tough, a warrior, a fighter, badass. But I've seen a lot of complaints about her characterization that I want to address in saying why I love Michonne exactly as she is, the strong silent type. :)

She's a woman of few words, but that doesn't mean she doesn't know how to use the ones she has. I had friends that complained about how rarely she spoke on the show, but that is who she is! She was on the road with Andrea for months and Andrea barely felt like she knew her (though Michonne argued she knew the important things about her) and so viewers couldn't expect to get to know her right away! She's fiercely guarded, untrusting, a sharp observer, ruthless, kind, and a survivor.

She first exploded on the scene with two zombie "pets" whose jaws had been removed. They were deterrents to the other zombies and kept them from bothering her because their own smell masked hers. But we learn later on in the show, she probably knew them and they were slowly starving to death. We get the impression they were some bad dudes and Michonne is enacting her own kind of torture. She slays zombies to relieve stress and because she enjoys it.

Yet, she has great instincts. She gets what's going on with Rick. She knows he won't turn her over to the Governor. She knows exactly what to say to Merle to get him to let her go. She helps out Carl. She has those softer moments and they are just enough. But interestingly enough, I read an interview with Danai in Vulture just yesterday that fans want her to be more vulnerable. Noooooo. But lol this is the great problem facing female characters, they have to be tough, but also soft, kick-ass, but they better speak enough words to satisfy.

Anyway, I love Michonne as she is and I find her characterization refreshing.

So there you have it! Do you also love any of these characters?


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