Last week while writing my post on comfort TV I realized two things, I like TV shows with strong female characters who kick ass and/or shows about older ladies (I’m omitting The Golden Girls from this post because next Thursday I am finally going to write an epic love letter to my favorite ladies of Miami who all kick ass even Rose). So without further ado…
My TOP ten favorite ladies who kick ass
Sidney Bristow – Alias (Jennifer Garner)
When Alias premiered, Sydney Bristow was a romantic grad student studying English who was also secretly a kick-ass super spy! At the time she thought she was working for a black-ops group in the CIA, but in reality she was working for a terrorist group only masquerading as the CIA to most of their employees. Alias was created by J.J.Abrams who at this point in his career had written a few movies (Regarding Henry, to name one) and had created only one TV series, Felicity. In its initial conception and for the first couple of seasons, Alias was about a young woman still trying to get her shit together while also having a high stress job which was then further complicated by becoming a double agent for the CIA. She was also played by Jennifer Garner whose picture should be in the dictionary next to girl-next-door. Garner is amazing as Sydney and Alias would not be the show it is had Garner not played her. Garner’s ability to be calm and reassuring is perfect for a spy. She also is amazing when showing the audience how difficult Sydney’s job is emotionally. Though Alias would become slightly silly and get stuck in its own mythology as it aged, it never wavered on Sydney Bristow’s ability to do her job and to protect those around her.
Buffy Summers – Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Sarah Michelle Geller)
You cannot have a list like this a NOT have Buffy Summers, Joss Whedon’s high school vampire slayer. Whedon had not liked the movie version of the script he had written so he in 1997 he made his first foray into TV with Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV show (man, that sentence sounded like it was for E! True Hollywood Story). Whedon actively wanted to subvert the common horror convention of the damsel in distress so instead he made the damsel into a hero. Buffy was played by Sarah Michelle Geller, who had played Kendall Hart on All My Children (she was Erica Kane’s angry illegitimate daughter, a bad girl if you will, she was FABULOUS). Not only was Buffy a badass but she was also snarky and HILARIOUS. After watching all of those episodes of Supernatural, I keep meaning to rewatch Buffy.
Clair Huxtable – The Cosby Show (Phylicia Rashād)
Clair Huxtable was not only the wife of Bill Cosby’s Cliff but she was also, and I think more importantly, a highly respected lawyer AND mother of FIVE. Though she and Cliff were a unified team when it came to the children she was also quite clearly the BOSS as she was the only person in that house who truly had her shit together. According to whomever wrote the Wikipedia article on The Cosby Show, Clair let Cliff think he was in charge but if you have ever watched the show you know that Clair would have NEVER allowed anyone to think that she was not SMART and in charge. Instead she often used her excellent skills as an attorney to prove definitively to Cliff time after time that her way was not only right but also reasonable and logical. Even as a child I knew that Clair was something special on TV, she was so much more than a wife or a mother she was always the smartest person in the room. To this day anything with Phylicia Rashād is automatically great by her being involved.
Julia Sugarbaker – Designing Women (Dixie Carter)
Like Clair Huxtable, Julia Sugarbaker could make a fucking speech. Julia was a southern, liberal, feminist, business owner of an interior design firm in Atlanta, Georgia. Julia was known for her speeches expressing her views on every issue and fierce loyalty to her sister (whom she often disagreed with) and friends (she and BFF Mary Jo were often joining together for one cause or another). Julia was played by Dixie Carter who was a libertarian, registered republican and strongly in favor of gay rights so not quite exactly Julia in real life. She once joked that if she had to deliver a speech she did not agree with, they had to let her sing a song.
Zoe Washburne – Firefly (Gina Torres)
Zoe is another amazing character created by Joss Whedon (is there ANY reason to NOT love Whedon). She is second in command on the spacecraft Serenity in Whedon’s “space western,” Firefly that was cancelled way to soon on Fox (thankfully Whedon got to wrap up the story in the film Serenity). Though she is second in command, Zoe is often seen as the voice of reason by the crew AKA she is the Clair Huxtable to Malcolm (Mal) Reynolds captain. Like all of the women on this list Zoe is extremely loyal to her crew and especially Mal who she served with in the Unification War. Zoe is super calm, cool and collected in almost every situation which makes her an ideal smuggler. She is also played by Gina Torres who always plays a badass, whether it’s the big bad on Alias OR the managing partner of a law firm on Suits.
Pam Swynford De Beaufort – True Blood (Kristin Bauer van Straten)
After Skarsgard, Pam is my FAVORITE person on True Blood, in fact she might actually be my favorite but he is just so dreamy. There is nobody on True Blood who embraces the camp like Kristin Bauer van Straten (even her REAL name is awesome). Everything she does on True Blood is brilliant. Seduce therapist at anti-vampire concentration camp so that she can get perks –abso -fucking- lutely. Wear Walmart sweats to save Tara by turning her into a vampire –yes but I will snark my way through it. Throw a complete fit when her Maker/best friend has a sister he has never mentioned –you betcha, he was being an ass. Remind viewers that the show is often driven more by Sookie’s vagina than actual sensible decision-making –points that fucking shit out as often as possible. There is nobody more fun than Pam and her absence in most of the season finale is the reason it sucked the most (lack of Pam can’t be made up for by a Swedish penis).
Dr. Miranda Bailey – Grey’s Anatomy (Chandra Wilson)
If all that happened on Grey’s Anatomy was Bailey yelling at interns I would have not dropped that show in the middle of last season. Miranda Bailey is one of my FAVORITE characters ever on TV. She is smart, sassy, über competent, in fact she might actually be the only surgeon worth a damn at Seattle Grace/Mercy West/Sloan Grey/Grey Sloan worst hospital in Seattle (seriously what is the shit hole called). Bailey is so iconic that I swear to god Emily Owen M.D. ripped off her opening speech which is why I fell in love with Grey’s Anatomy to begin with.
Dr. Christina Yang – Grey’s Anatomy (Sandra Oh)
Christina Yang is the second reason I watched Grey’s for as long as I did. OH SANDRA OH, you beautiful majestic pony. Your brilliance rocked me into a false sense of what I was watching was good. Your commitment to your character and all of her flaws and skills made me think that what I was watching was not a sinking ship of crap. I hope after this, your final season of Grey’s, you go on to star in everything and you win all the awards. Most importantly I hope you somehow end up as Leslie Knope’s new BFF on Parks and Rec (seriously Melissa wouldn’t she be amazing) [MAKE THIS HAPPEN, SCHUR. -M]. I also feel the without the friendship that is Meredith Grey and Christina Yang, Shonda Rhimes and ABC will finally have to put the hospital soap out of its misery.
Sarah/Alison/Cosima/Helena/Beth and many more – Orphan Black (Tatiana Maslany)
If you read this site you might have notice my undying love and devotion to Tatiana Maslany and all the ladies she plays on Orphan Black. OMG! I cannot recommend this show enough. It is suspenseful, dramatic and shockingly funny, a lot of the time. Alison the uptight suburban mom (who once tortured her husband with hot glue) and Felix, Sarah’s gay foster-brother are a gift that keeps on giving. The fact that every character Maslany plays is SO different from each other and that she can change the level of chemistry she has with other actors depending on the character she is playing is AMAZING. I also love that each character is a bad ass in their own way, Cosima is super smart, Sarah is streetwise and tough, Helena is psychotic, Beth was a cop, and most of all if you push Alison she will fight back in ways you can’t even imagine.
Veronica Mars –Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell)
Veronica Mars is the queen of snark. She is by far the most acerbic lady on this list (seriously I love Buffy but she has nothing on V). She is tiny, tough and super smart. There was nothing more fun then watching a teenage girl continually out smart and take down smug old dudes, rich kids, and basically everyone in her way. I’m so excited about the MOVIE! [When this show was on, I knew Veronica was something special. There was not anyone on TV like her–a funny, smart, loving daughter who was also kind of unlikeable and bitchy. I miss this character a lot. -M]