Thursday, May 30, 2013

Staff Picks: Favorite Women of Television

From Lucy Ricardo to the Dowager Countess of Downton Abbey, women have been entertaining us with their wit and charm for decades. And because we are us, we have decided to tell you about the ones we like best, in a very wordy manner. Here are some of our favorite women of television:

Lorelai: I can't believe you're going to a therapist. You know they're totally going to ask you about me.
Rory: What?
Lorelai: They always want to ask about your mother. It's okay. Say whatever you want. But make sure you start with "my mother's very hot."
Rory: Yes, that won't seem at all disturbing to the doctor.

I didn't jump on the train boarded for Stars Hollow until long after Gilmore Girls ended. I don't know what I was waiting for, but when my sister finally convinced me it was worth my time I was hooked. I couldn't get enough of the fast talking, pop culture referencing, rabid metabolism of the Gilmores' world. Lorelai is a single mother to Rory, raising her to appreciate Metallica and The Bangles. Resentful of her silver spoon upbringing, Lorelai rejected her parents' vision for her, and chose to raise her daughter alone in spite of her parents' substantial means. Rory is incredibly studious with a penchant for reading. She shares her mother's musical tastes, insatiable appetite for junk food, and coffee addiction. Both women are usually armed with a witty remark or pop culture reference for each situation they find themselves in. They are devoted to each other. For the most part they support each other... although there was that one time when Lorelai started dating Rory's teacher... or that other time when Rory started dating the troubled nephew of Luke Danes. What I love about the Gilmores is their resilience and passion for life, their ability to find humor in most every situation, and the acceptance they show to one another, even though they are far from perfect.

It's time for complete and total honesty.  I have a wicked bad girl crush on Amy Poehler, even more so when she is playing Leslie Knope. I am convinced that Leslie Knope is quite possibly the perfect television character.  She started off a little shaky, but has become this fantastically well-rounded, in-depth character.  Her traits are exaggerated for comedic effect, but when it comes down to it, she is fiercely loyal, she stands up for what she believes in, she truly cares for people and she LOVES waffles.  I want to be her best friend.  She has also given us all the gift of Galentine's Day, which is definitely a new favorite holiday (most appropriately celebrated by eating waffles).

I love her relationships with her best friend, Ann, and her husband, Ben.  She has a way of being there and in your face and way super excited about things, without becoming overbearing or annoying.  And when she makes a mistake, she steps up and apologizes and/or fixes it.  She knows her flaws and she is humble when she needs to be, even if she kind of hates it.  She is pretty much the perfect role model. 

I really like the new Jane Bingum on Drop Dead Diva. She's the best of both worlds of model (Deb Dobkins) and lawyer (old Jane Bingum). Jane is pretty, fun, smart, sassy, and not the usual super-thin main character. It's interesting to see the two opposite worlds collide into one person. She learns a lot about acceptance and love. It's a fun show that I always enjoy watching.

I went ahead and gave away Leslie Knope and Buffy to avoid conflict, but just know that they are beloved by me. However, I am pretty excited to tell you about the amazingness that is Veronica Mars.
First, can we just take a time out to talk about how awesome Kristen Bell is? She has a very public irrational love of sloths. She is open about her lazy eye, which she has named. I am not threatened by the fact that my husband loves her, because it is completely based on her role in Heroes, in which she shoots lightning from her hands.

Veronica Mars is one of those cult shows that was cancelled prematurely despite the wailings of its rabid fan base. In fact, the Veronica Mars creator just put up a Kickstarter campaign for making a Veronica Mars movie, and it reached its two million dollar goal in about twelve hours. Is it really that good? Yes. Yes it is.

Veronica is a girl detective. Which sounds dumb, when you type it out like that. But she's part of a brilliantly modern noir world in which she solves crimes for (and behind the back of) her detective father. They are both outcasts in their town because her best friend was murdered the year before the series started, and her dad didn't think they caught the right guy, throwing him in opposition to the most powerful family in town. Veronica has lost all of her friends, and her dad has lost most of his business. Which means that Veronica is in a perfect place to be a hilarious, snarky outsider who solves everyone's crimes from her lunch table. She wears the occasional wig and dons the occasional accent, almost like the Sydney Bristow of the 11th grade, and for people who like mysteries but are sick of CSI and similar procedurals, it's a smart, funny alternative with a brilliant woman at its head. It's like Buffy for mystery lovers, minus the bad special effects.

I know I would totally be friends with Mindy Lahiri. I hate waiting for the new The Mindy Project to go up Hulu. I want to know what kind of a crazy mess the group has ended up in. Sure, Mindy is a bit selfish and celebrity obsessed, but who isn't? Her independence, sweet job, and amazing apartment gives me hope for the future of smart, strong, women. This girl always knows what she wants and she at least tries really, really hard to get it. Even if it's the ability to do nothing.

Reasons why Liz Lemon and I would be best friends...

She hates new experiences.
"I just want to go home and watch that show about midgets and eat a block of cheese."

She isn't afraid to admit she's a hot mess.
"Oh you don't want my advice on this. I ate a Three Musketeers bar for breakfast and this bra is held together with tape."

Her insults are witty and creative.
"Your toes look like dried up shrimps."

She has excellent coping mechanisms.
"I'm going to go talk to some food about this."

She's not overly affectionate.
"Lovers? Oh that word bums me out unless it's between the words meat and pizza."

She also likes to confess.
"One time I laughed at a blind guy eating spaghetti. Sometimes I pee in the shower if I'm really tired. I saw my grandparents making love once and I didn't leave right away."

She knows just what to say if a guy offers to buy you a drink.
"Really? I already have a drink. Do you think he'd buy me mozzarella sticks?"

She knows how to interact with the general public.
"This morning I stole a cab from a pregnant lady on crutches."

She knows when to give herself credit when credit is due.
"Who has two thumbs, speaks limited French, and hasn't cried once today? This moi."

Rose: Now, I know no one wants to hear any of my stories right now...
Dorothy: That's always a safe bet, Rose.
Rose: ...but you need to hear about my cousin Ingmar. He was different. He used to do bird imitations.
Blanche: Well, what's wrong with that?
Rose: Well, let's just say you want to park your car under their oak tree.

You might find this strange, but I remember the first time I ever watched a Golden Girls episode. I was in the sixth grade, and I found myself sitting with my friend in her living room, blatantly avoiding my homework and trying to find something funny to watch on TV. There was absolutely nothing good worth watching (duh, Saved by the Bell had already ended), but while we were channel surfing, we stumbled upon four old women arguing over men half their age and then laughing about it over a delicious cheesecake while the credits rolled thirty minutes later. Honestly, most of the jokes went right over my head at the time, but Betty White's character, Rose Nylund, stole my young heart with her love for animals, incredible excitement over everything, and, most of all, her terrible stories of adventures in St. Olaf. While I loved all of the women on the show, I related to Rose the most because anyone who knows me knows that my sense of humor is, well, a little silly… like Rose herself. While most people roll their eyes at Rose’s lines, you’ll find me doubled over laughing on the couch right next to them. Rose just has a way of making a tough day so much better. You can always count on her to say something utterly ridiculous, served with the right amount of crazy. I literally watched this show from middle school all the way up to college until someone finally got the courage to buy me all of the seasons on DVD knowing full well that he would have to suffer through all of them with me. My husband is a brave man. 

I'm sure you won't be surprised to learn that my fascination with Rose Nylund led to my love for all things Betty White. I'll probably regret sharing this later, but I've entered into a sweepstakes twice to meet her in California, I proudly displayed her calendar a couple of years ago, I own every one of her television show seasons on DVD, and a friend of mine almost conviced me that bidding on the couch from the Golden Girls living room set was a good idea. Fortunately, American television has been graced with a number of funny ladies; however, Betty White's Rose Nylund takes the cheesecake. 

I must say that all of my favorite TV women have pretty much been mentioned, but there is one more.  Topanga Lawrence.  That's right, everyone's favorite girl from that awesome TV show Boy Meets World.   You may think this is weird, as throughout the series she had her definite ups and downs as a character, but I love her.  She is always true to herself, and (for the most part) completely honest with Corey.  When he does something she doesn't like, she tells him.  If she wants to do something her way, she is totally comfortable with who she is; and come on, everyone wanted her hair, am I right?  Besides, who doesn't love the love story of Corey and Topanga? They make it through everything, and I even hear there is a sequel series coming? Excuse me while I squeal for joy!
I guess it was inevitable that with this group of blog writers, there were going to be overlapping interests, and probably no one is surprised to learn that Buffy Summers was one of them. (If you were surprised to learn it, that means you haven't watched Buffy yet. You should get on that. Right away.)

The thing about Buffy is that she's a totally relatable superhero. She has super strength, she trains hardcore, and she's a natural leader—but she also fights with her mom, likes cheerleading, and sometimes has a hard time choosing her Slayer duties over her social life. She makes mistakes, and sometimes they're big ones. She doesn't always do the smart thing (but she is very smart). She has a close group of friends, and she will do anything for them. She loves passionately and hurts deeply. She learns so much throughout the series, and her character growth is really amazing. But most importantly, Buffy kicks ass. This sounds like I'm sort of joking, but I really mean it—there is something so fantastic about 144 episodes of a show in which a woman saves the world, every time. She's small, blonde, beautiful, and powerful. She breaks stereotypes left and right (and it's especially satisfying when she fights the misogynistic villains Joss Whedon does so well). For me, what it boils down to is this: Buffy is a female superhero who never once wears a skintight bodysuit. The show is not just an excuse to watch a hot girl do cool things in unlikely heels while holding a giant gun. She's a realistic character (if a tad over-scripted; thank you, the 1990s). And when I watch this show, I actually find myself walking around feeling stronger and more confident. That's a pretty great thing to get from television. 

Who are your favorite TV women?


Elise216 said...

I love all the women on this list! I'm glad to see others do as well. I would have to add Pam Beesly Halpert from The Office. Not only does she have a very real and never annoying sweetness about her, but she's funny, odd, strong, and she acknowledges and confronts her weaknesses. She is the kind of woman I look up to. Her relationship with everyone at Dunder Mifflin is unique, and to me she is the glue that holds that office together.

Adam said...

Liz Lemon is hands down my favorite on this list because not only is she probably the funniest person here, but Tina Fey is a genius. Without her amazing writing talent, that show would not be my second favorite comedy show of all-time (the #1 spot goes to Arrested Development). Plus, Liz Lemon seems like she would be so easy to get along with.

grburbank said...

I love most of these women!--the girls Gilmore, Leslie Knope, Liz Lemon, VMars, Buffy.

I would also add Kara "Starbuck" Thrace and Laura Roslin from Battlestar Galactica: both are strong women who must make difficult moral judgment calls. And I love the women from The West Wing: C.J. Cregg, White House Press Secretary extraordinaire and later Chief of Staff; the firecracker of a First Lady, Abbey; along with Donna Moss, Margaret, and Amy Gardner.

Two hilarious characters I adore, who are certainly NOT role models are Karen Walker from Will & Grace and Lucille Bluth from Arrested Development.