Since season 2 of The Bridge premieres tonight, I had been planning to write about my love of Diane Kruger’s character Sonya Cross for today, but due to grad school busytime, I never got to talk about Fargo or The Americans, two other FX shows with smart, well-rounded female characters. This made me extraordinarily sad, because you know I like to try to convince other people to watch the shows I love (I finally wore Katie down on Parks & Rec!!), so I thought I’d write an ode to some of my favorite female characters on TV.
I was thinking about what all of these women have in common and they have all made me scream and yelp with delight when they were on my TV. I feel something for them and the excellent work of the actresses who portray them.
I know these characters would not exist without great writers, producers and directors, and I love that a network like FX is able to breed such great talent.
These women are not the lead characters of their shows, but they are nonetheless wonderful.
Martha, The Americans
Martha (Alison Wright) has THE BEST apartment on TV, filled with midcentury glassware and small touches that make viewers understand that she is way cooler than her desperation leads us to believe. She even knows about Clark’s (really, Phillip’s) fake hair! I hope she realizes she is being played and then does something insane. As long as Martha doesn’t die. Please.
Along with sharpshooter Tim, Rachel (Erica Tazel) is the one character fans of Justified long to see more of, and we were all thrilled to see she was made interim chief last season while Art is recovering from being shot by Michael Rappaport. She is so smart, tough and infinitely more capable of being a leader than pretty boy Raylan Gvens, who she puts in his place regularly.
Adriana, The Bridge
One of the things I love most about The Bridge is its ability to create a whole fascinating world through switching between its characters. Adriana (Emily Rios) was paired with Daniel Frye (Matthew Lillard), both reporters for the El Paso paper. While Daniel got his own storyline by being a part of the murder, Adriana was the one who showed the viewer around Juarez, her home. We spent time with her wonderful family, who loves her but does not approve of her homosexuality.
Sonya, The Bridge
I have long admired Diane Kruger’s sense of style and taste in men (HELLOOOOOO Pacey!), but until I saw her on The Bridge, I was never entirely convinced she could act. We have received information about Sonya in pieces: she was close to her sister, who was brutally murdered, after which Lieutenant Hank Wade took her in and (presumably) helped her train to be a detective. She also has a disability, something like Asperger’s, which is handled remarkably well on the show. She’s socially awkward, never says the right thing (insulting Alma’s cooking was one of my favorite scenes), but, unlike Carrie on Homeland, totally rocks at her job and is not disadvantaged by her disability. I strongly relate to Sonya and Kruger’s performance makes her so heartbreaking and sweet but also a tortured badass.
If you would have told me six months ago that the TV show based on the Coen brothers classic film Fargo would be my favorite new show of the year, I would not have believed you. But Fargo was more memorable and compelling than True Detective, in that the stories and characters have stuck with me even after it ended. Allison Tolman was amazing as Molly Solverson, the deputy chief of Police in Bemidji, Minnesota, and the only person in town smart enough to figure out what really happened when Lorne Malvo came to town. I love that Molly isn’t conventionally attractive (read: thin), but her weight is never mentioned and she even gets the dude, charming Gus Grimley (Colin Hanks). I hope Allison Tolman wins all the awards (and beats damn Jessica Lange).
Elizabeth, The Americans
I am so glad Keri Russell is on a TV show that hasn’t been cancelled yet (I was the one person who watched Running Wilde), especially one as brilliant and engaging as The Americans. Elizabeth Jennings, like her husband Phillip, spies on the United States for Russia in the early 80s and wears a huge variety of frumpy wigs while killing many (many, many) people in cold blood. Watching Elizabeth struggle with who she is and what her place is in the Russian spy machine all while balancing a family is riveting to watch.
Many of these shows are streaming on various sites like Hulu and Amazon, and I urge you to watch them if you are able.