March is Women’s History Month. For a long time, women were excluded and silenced from history altogether. While the stories of women should be addressed all year long, we take this month specifically to honor women and to tell the history of one kick-ass group of human beings, emphasizing especially positive role models and the importance of women from all backgrounds.
With that being said, I thought it only fitting to honor some of my favorite strong female characters on television, both past and present. These fictional ladies truly kick ass in all walks of life. They are a combination of smart, funny, tough, courageous, and a myriad of other adjectives that make them relatable to us all at one point or another in our own lives.
Here are 9 that I am celebrating this year:
1. Mary Jane Paul — I feel like “Being Mary Jane” often gets overlooked because it’s not on one of the four broadcast television networks. However, the show shouldn’t be dismissed because it’s incredible and its lead character, Mary Jane Paul, is truly a bad ass boss. Part of the reason I love this show is because Mary Jane is one of the most relatable characters I’ve seen on television in a long time. She tries to balance a demanding career (and all of the fabulous career perks it comes with), complicated relationships with her family, and a flawed love life. What makes her such a strong and relatable character is, despite reaching her breaking point many times throughout the series, she reflects on her mistakes and learns from them. Now, that’s the true definition of a bad ass woman.
2. Petra Solano — While many “Jane the Virgin” fans (including myself) initially saw Petra as just a villain, over the past three seasons she has been humanized while maintaining her antagonist status. Viewers learned how Petra escaped a toxic marriage, saw her climb from poverty and witnessed the twisted dynamic she has with her mother Magda. Simultaneously, we’ve seen Petra continue to scheme. Although her backstory does not necessarily make her likable, just more realistic and believable, she has become a more 3-dimensional character I enjoy the hell out of.
3. Erin Lindsay — Erin Lindsay is the dictionary definition of “bad ass.” She’s tough-as-nails, respected, and she sure as hell knows how to shoot a gun. On top of all that, and being a pretty damn good cop on “Chicago PD,” one of her strongest and best qualities is her loyalty. The girl is fiercely protective of her own, even if it means sacrificing everything she’s worked for. She is also compassionate; her compassion becomes one of the most valued things amongst her team. In many cases loyalty and compassion are viewed in women as a fault, one that is used against them. For Erin, they are her greatest strengths and ultimately make her an even better cop and teammate.
4. Meredith Grey — Meredith Grey has been to hell and back. She has survived a bomb, a plane crash, a near-drowning, a mass-shooting and the death of her husband, our beloved Derek Shepherd aka McDreamy. Despite all of that, she has been able to shine as a surgeon and Chief of General Surgery. She’s also not afraid to say what’s on her mind. Many times throughout the past 13 seasons of “Grey’s Anatomy,” Meredith was nothing but sassy and blunt, no matter how much it may have offended or pissed someone off. She’ll stand up for herself and her beliefs in a way I find admirable for any person.
5. Peggy Carter — Despite the amount of sexism she endured on a day-to-day basis–a prejudice reminiscent of her time and, unfortunately, still today–Agent Peggy Carter impressed me with how she never let the chauvinism affect her. “Agent Carter” kept a level head and demonstrated that a woman can be both feminine and bad ass. She dressed in feminine clothing and, at the same time, was the most competent person in the room, easily outdoing her male colleagues in skill and ability. She’s also independent, never expecting anyone to do anything for her. In fact, Peggy is one of the strongest female characters I can remember seeing on television in a long time. I can simply sum up her character with one of her quotes from the show: “I know my value. Anyone else’s opinion doesn’t really matter.”
6. C.J. Cregg — C.J. Cregg, always and forever, is one of my favorite fictional characters on television. She broke the mold on “The West Wing” and led the way for more portrayals of strong and independent women. In a profession dominated by males, C.J. proved to be a powerhouse. Most of the time, her male counterparts, whether it be Sam or Josh or Toby, were trying to keep up with her. She was never afraid to voice her opinion and stand up for what she believed in. If anyone, whether it be within the administration or from a media member she dealt with on a daily basis, tried to push her around, she had no problem pushing right back.
7. Liza Miller — Some may find it weird to include a 40-year-old woman who pretends to be 26 in order to break into the world of publishing on my list. However, I include Liza Miller from “Younger” because her real age/fake age conundrum opens the door for her to live the life she always wanted to but couldn’t due to feeling trapped in her marriage. We get to see her be youthful and carefree as she falls in love with a young, tattooed-stud named Josh and makes a new BFF in her colleague Kelsey Peters. While Liza’s life, at times, seems a little bizarre, she also proves herself strong and empowering by putting herself first, at age 40. Her storyline also allows for discussion about what it means to be a young woman, as well as what has and hasn’t changed about “womanhood” over time.
8. Tami Taylor — Tami Taylor was more than just the coach’s wife on “Friday Night Lights.” She might’ve come off as just another nice southern belle, but she was strong and tough in multiple facets of her life. She didn’t fall for people’s tricks and she never backed down from a challenge. She was also a mentor to her students. As a guidance counselor, she fought for them against the bureaucracy of the public school system. Taylor was also the mother everyone wanted. She always knew exactly what to say. Looking back, she was the ultimate role model. In Tami, I trust.
9. Callie Adams Foster — I admit to having personal problems with the character of Callie Adams Foster, but she deserves a place on this list because, despite all she’s been through, she doesn’t compromise on the person she is and what she believes in. Although she may come off as nothing but trouble, based off her past experiences in the foster care system, Callie is actually a kind and compassionate young lady. Throughout “The Fosters” she is shown always putting the needs of others ahead of herself, even if it gets her in trouble. Viewers especially see this in the pilot as Callie tries to rescue her brother Jude from an abusive foster home.
Who are your favorite fictional female characters on television? Let me know in the comment section.