16 years into the 21st century, 10 of those I can probably remember, it’s safe to say that this not the peak era for music or film (it just isn’t). However we undoubtedly live in the Golden Age of television where directors can better define themselves as auteurs, where some shows’ writing has surpassed that of the average film, and where special effects are almost as strong as the big screen (honestly it’s really close now). The greatest thing to come out of modern television is possibly its ability to consistently represent minorities, in America that is, in a positive light. Instead of the typical white male protagonist, we have shows consisting of all Asian casts (Fresh Off the Boat), all black casts (Blackish) and ensemble shows where the cast is extremely diverse (Orange is the New Black). With this new wave of diversity we also see a growing evidence of strong-female characters. Thus I felt inclined, at least for this post, to share how the role of women is changing in modern television through a (unranked) list of my favorite actresses/ characters on the small screen.
- Kara Danvers/Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) of Supergirl
- Annalise Keating (Viola Davis) of How to Get Away With Murder
- Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) Arrow
- Devon Finestra (Olivia Wilde) Vinyl
- Every female cast member of Orange is the New Black
Kimmy Schmidt (Ellie Kemper) of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
The stereotypical female is usually attractive, the love interest, at times a bimbo and follows closely behind the footsteps of her male counterparts. The character of Kimmy has completed destroyed this stereotype by being a tom-boyish, smart, funny, charismatic, kind-hearted, selfless woman who deals with her problems without the assistance of a man ; the kind of female character that we should all women should look up too.
Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) of Jessica Jones
Krysten Ritter shines in Marvel’s second series to come to Netflix (the first being Daredevil) where she plays Jessica Jones. The series follows the eponymous hero a while after she escapes the grasps of the mind-controlling villain Kilgrave, who raped Jessica and made her act against her will. On top of the compelling themes on rape and the difficulties victims face, Jessica Jones is filled with inspiring moments , as any superhero show should, and also empowerment of the feminine. The strongest example is when Jessica is faced with the choice of running away from it all when Kilgrave returns or facing him in order to save other people, primarily women, from what he did to her. Just before she enters a cab heading out the city, she ultimately chooses to stay and fight the villainous man despite her fears.
Angela (Portia Doubleday) and Darlene (Carly Chaikin) of Mr. Robot
Despite not being the main characters, Angela and Darlene prove to be two influential figures in the male protagonist’s life. Not only do they impact, in a positive way, a white-male protagonist’s life but they are also giving something that many characters, male or female, are hardly given, depth. Angela proves to be a strong-hearted women who believes in self-improvement through independence and Darlene, who co-leads a hacker group (one that was truly created for the better of society), proves to be the “f**k the world but I’ll still do all I can to make it better” type girl. Mr.Robot and its two young female stars are paving the way for a reality on television where female characters whose lives revolve around men cease to exist.
Iris West (Candice Patton) of The Flash
I am not sure what is better, the fact that a comic book character as iconic as Iris West is black or the fact that she is not a constant damsel in distress. Indeed Iris has been saved by the Scarlet Speedster a couple of times but she’s saved him just as many. Iris constantly is giving The Flash/Barry advice and encouragement as his double life grows more and more overwhelming. Overcoming the countless life obstacles that life throws at her, Iris proves to be a role model to young female audiences and especially young black female audiences. Candice Patton has truly illuminated the path of a future where we will see more influential black female characters on television.
Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) of Game of Thrones
As Game of Thrones grows bigger and bigger their characters grow more and more iconic. The most iconic on the show? Daenerys Targaryen. There is probably no need to go too in depth to why Khaleesi is a strong female character as the gifs and images pretty much sum it up, and if you are a GOT fan you probably already know. If you aren’t a fan of the show here is a sum up, Daenerys Targaryen has 3 dragons, she frees slaves, murders masters, has thousands of men in HER army, is a woman and oh yea has 3 DRAGONS!
The Entirety of the Clone Club (Tatiana Maslany) of Orphan Black
No one knows how Tatiana Maslany plays all these characters (all of them are not even shown above) not even she knows how. One thing is for sure, it’s awesome to see an amazing female actor at the helm of SCIENCE FICTION show starring herself (herselves?). Maslany adds something special to each character creating 12 clones, or however many there are, with some truly inspiring and moving character arcs. It goes without saying that the Clone Club also proves to be empowering to the LGBT community as Maslany plays a gay female and transgender man.