What follows is a highly subjective, woefully incomplete list of some of the coolest ladies on TV in 2011. Despite my best efforts, I can’t watch everything, and so I’m 100% positive I’m overlooking an unfortunately high number of badasses. Don’t view this as an authoritative list (what constitutes boob tube authority anyway?), but rather as a start to a list that can only get longer, better, and more diverse.
This is a collection of characters that are eminently watchable (and not in the Jersey Shore train-wrecktastic kind of way). They are independent, outspoken, and complex. They are flawed and hesitant and uncertain, but simultaneously bold, ambitious, and brash. They are the characters I identify with if only for that delicate and truly human combination.
Diane Lockhart (The Good Wife) – On a show full of ball-busting ladies with killer wardrobes, Christine Baranski is the ball-busting and sartorial stand-out as a partner in a Chicago law firm triumphantly perched atop a shattered glass ceiling. She speaks in clipped four word sentences, but damn do those four words speak volumes.
Robin Scherbatsky (How I Met Your Mother) – Everyone’s favorite 4 am news anchor has had a lot of meaty stuff to work with this season on HIMYM (blame the writers for any shark-jumping, it’s not Robin’s fault!) Cobie Smulders’ comedic timing is impeccable, and her Canada-defending never ends, but her plaintive portrayal of a modern career women’s misgivings about motherhood and marriage is spot-on.
Penny Hearts (Happy Endings) – ’90s Long Island Bat Mitzvah, anyone? Happy Endings is all about the dynamics within the gang, but Casey Wilson is the lady standout as the resident spaz who only speaks Italian when she’s wasted. I love her because she dreams for Prince Charming, but buys herself a condo while she waits.
LaDonna Batiste-Williams (Treme) – In a cast full of knock-outs, Khandi Alexander’s raised eyebrow should get it’s very own credit line, and probably an Emmy. LaDonna embodies all of the dashed hopes and chronic disappointments of post-Katrina New Orleans. And Season 2′s personal tragedy (no spoiler!) is quite possibly the most emotionally agonizing television hours I’ve ever not cried through. If I had cried, I might have missed a split second of Alexander’s incredible performance.