My TV Feminist Role Models

For most people, we consume entertainment as a means of escape from our daily lives. We imagine we are space western outlaws fighting to survive on the outskirts of the solar system or are Mr. Manager running our own awesome banana stand. We use entertainment to examine parts of us that we may not necessarily even realize exist within. Some of my favorite characters are ones that I identify with the most. Is it necessary to identify with a character on a show? Probably not, but for me, it makes watching TV much more enjoyable. Some shows like It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia have no likable characters, but that forces you to really examine your most inner demons.

I try to consume entertainment with a feminist bent as well, trying to filter out the nonsense and misogyny that a lot of TV drivel contains. I am always so elated when I realize shows present feminist themes and even more so when characters describe themselves as feminist. I present to you a not so complete list of some of my favorites from current TV shows that are my role models.

I love Leslie Knope. Who doesn’t, actually? She is the confident strong political minded woman that I have always striven to be. Ever since Parks and Recreation came on the air, my world has been a better place. Leslie is the current standard bearer on how I view women on TV. If I had a teenage daughter, I would encourage her to watch Parks and Recreation just to show her that women can be confident and strong, two qualities that are looked down upon women having in some circles. Parks and Recreation overall might be the hallmark of feminist shows. Donna, Anne, and April all too have qualities and a strong sense of self worth.

Spencer Hastings from Pretty Little Liars might be one of the most underrated characters on TV. Like Leslie, she is confident and strong. She is how I wish I was in high school. Every time I watch PLL, I get glimpses of teenage Alyson in her and it gives me the feels. Spencer definitely has spawned from characters like Willow Rosenberg (All Time Pantheon of TV Role Models). Over all, Pretty Little Liars is an amazing show for being a teen drama. Seriously, all of you go watch it so we can discuss!

Finally, Penelope Garcia represents the “how I wish I didn’t give a care about what people thought of me” side. Criminal Minds is a typical procedural, sure, but Garcia is awesome. She is the grown up nerd I wish I could be. I find her so charming and sweet, I just want to give her the biggest hug ever. I have always struggled for acceptance and tried to fit in and not be myself. Her blatant individualism is something I have always wanted and craved.

These characters to me represent the best sides of how I want to be viewed as: a sweet, charming, smart, funny, intelligent woman. Feminism to me has always been about empowerment. I love it when I feel empowered by pop culture. I am struggling to love myself and feel empowered but at least I can disappear into Leslie, Spencer, or Garcia any time I want.

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Alyson

Queer Pop Culture Junkie in the Northwest. Addicted to Coffee, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Fantasy Sports, The Mountain Goats, and Tottenham Hotspur.

12 thoughts on “My TV Feminist Role Models”

  1. How about Kate Beckett on Castle? She’s super tough, she leads a group of men unquestioned. Her biggest flaws are masculine – unemotional, closed off, solitary. Even though the title character of the show is male, it has a predominately feminist message. The show is essentially about Castle’s relationships with women (Beckett, his daughter and his mother). And Castle is the physically weak one in almost every circumstance, standing behind Beckett as she protects him from harm.

    1. Seconded! I love both shows, but I love Joan Watson so, so much. Say what you will about CBS’s demographic, there are some great women characters on that network. Alicia Florrick, Kalinda Sharma (both on the Good Wife), Detective Carter (Person of Interest), Joan, and Elementary’s take on Irene Adler. (I almost spoiled something huge here.)

        1. Oh, I forgot to ask about Teresa Lisbon from The Mentalist! She’s a sidekick, and she puts up with a lot of shenanigans, but I still like her character. Mayyyybe not the most role-model-y, since she allows for so much rules-bending? But definitely a badass.

    1. I don’t know. BBC Prime Suspect had a certain feel to it that I think the U.S. one from last year lacked. It’s the same with CSI or Cold Case versus BBC’s Waking the Dead.

      Bones is different. They have a good cast and good writers and directors because it’s always so well played out.

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