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5 Strong Women From Our Favourite Shows

Edited by: Swarnima Mishra, Aatreyee Ghoshal

The pandemic life has us sitting at home, restricted from interacting with the outside, for a good reason. This means those of us fortunate enough to be privileged digitally, have had some time to watch (and even binge-watch) some new shows, even old ones that we couldn’t ever get around to watching. Dealing with a real-time pandemic and the anxieties that came with it also meant going back to comfort shows; those we have binged a dozen times but simply cannot move beyond. Either way, most of us turned to the media to help us get through these difficult times, and TV shows have undeniably been a massive part of most of our lives in lockdown. 

As Phoebe Waller-Bridge said, “I’ll never get bored of watching flawed women on screen.” And that is precisely what these women are: flawed, strong, inspiring, and wonderful in their ways. Read on to find out about five of the strongest women from our favourite shows and what we can learn from them and their stories!


[Spoiler warnings; proceed with caution]

Nairobi from Money Heist

“Let the matriarchy begin.” Nairobi was a force to be reckoned with ahead of her time. She didn’t stand down for anyone, not for Berlin, not for the Professor and most certainly not for Gandia. She knew that courage, in its most real sense, meant accepting her feelings head-on. She always supported her girls, right from cheering Tokyo to saving Stockholm from Denver’s sexist quips. 

She stood up for what she thought was right, no matter what the cost. She knew how to stay calm in even the most stressful situations, yet, knew when not to keep quiet. Nairobi was a strong, brave, smart, and beautiful character. She captured hearts everywhere. Nairobi didn’t get the ending she deserved. It was cruel and unexpected, but she was triumphant in teaching us a thing or two about courage and beauty before she left. Hopefully one day, we too shall say “Let the Matriarchy begin” as we think of this amazing character with a smile.


Khaleesi from Game of Thrones:

Queen Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen, the First of Her Name, Queen of the Andals, the Rhoynar and the First Men, Lady of the Seven Kingdoms and Protector of the Realm, Lady of Dragonstone, Queen of Meereen, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, the Unburnt, Breaker of Chains and Mother of Dragons… what a mouthful, right? But the Mother of Dragons offers us a lot to learn. She went from a scared, abused girl to a revered, respected and relentless leader. She never let loss or difficulty stand in the way of the success that she knew she deserved. She believed in herself even when no one stood beside her. Maybe her ambition clouded her judgment sometimes, and at times, we could see her relentlessness become recklessness. No one said she’s perfect (except maybe Ser Jorah). 

Of course, she didn’t quite get the end most of us hoped she would, but her journey is an inspiration to the ones who wish to stand tall. Her character arc and journey tell a story that reiterates that our past does not influence our future; no matter how dark or troublesome it is. Daenerys’ character itself, left a profound message behind, that even though the journey to achieve our dreams is painful, it’s one that we can embark upon with a heart full of courage. 


Monica Geller from Friends

Monica is a timeless character from a timeless show, so painfully human, and incredibly easy to empathize with. She’s mildly OCD, which is probably why she was obsessed with cleanliness! She is kind and considerate. Monica would do anything for her friends (remember all the Thanksgiving dishes she tried to make following the burnt turkey?) and was very forgiving (taking in Rachel even though she wasn’t even invited to her wedding).

She knows it’s okay to be down whether it’s due to job termination or a messy breakup; she knows that she’ll eventually be up again. That’s the kind of confidence we all need. Monica continues to remind us that we’re capable of being the change we want to see. She reminds us to stay true to our dreams and ourselves, no matter what the cost. 

Since the show was from a time when the standards for humor were considerably different, it is advisable to critically engage with these characters and stories and acknowledge that they may not always put out the best messages. Monica’s arc from being fat disliked and bullied to thin, beautiful and well-liked by everyone around her can be considered quite problematic, especially to a younger, more impressionable audience. However, to an audience more capable of nuance, it can stand as a powerful testimony to how easily hurtful words can affect us in real life. Monica reflects real women: vulnerable, and at the mercy of societal standards of women’s ideal appearance.


Isobel Stevens from Grey’s Anatomy

Izzie was one of the first characters in Grey’s Anatomy. And while most of the limelight went to Meredith and Cristina, Iz certainly had her charms that left an impression on the show’s fans. She personified strength and made it known that strength can be quiet and fiery simultaneously; it doesn’t always have to be loud and screaming.

Not only was she a doctor, who used to be a model, but she was a person who battled stage four cancer happily, just so that her friends wouldn’t worry about her. She didn’t judge people based on what met the eye, she often saw beneath the surface, searching for the goodness in people.

This is why she recognized Alex Karev beyond what everyone else saw him— a ‘jerk’ and paved the way for him to fall in line with others. She loved fiercely without any reservations – sometimes, admittedly, a little too much (Yes, she did go a little overboard with Denny’s LVAD, but she’s only human.) She didn’t let her competitive edge ruin her relationships with her friends, because she always recognized her priorities, even when it was easy to push them away. Izzie Stevens showed us that our past has no impact on our future, as long as we decide it doesn’t.


Nancy Wheeler from Stranger Things

It does get a bit hard to pay attention to character development with all the demagogues and the Mind Flayer running around in this one. But look a little closely (maybe on a rewatch), and you’d see Nancy Wheeler grow with circumstances, from a typical high school girl into a young woman who’s proud of who she has become.

Nancy did have her priorities slightly out of order at the beginning of the show, but to be fair, high school is a confusing time for most people. As the storyline progresses, we see her learn from her mistakes (which is an essential lesson in itself), turning into someone who knows how to follow her instinct. We see her dilemma fading away, and her voice becoming louder.

This may not seem like much, but Nancy’s story tells us essential things: confidence and clarity are not always qualities you are born with. They are qualities that are developed over time, and anyone can cultivate them. Moreover, it’s okay if you don’t have it all figured out yet. You don’t have to have all the answers right now; sometimes things just work themselves out. We sure hope to see more of Nancy in the upcoming season!



Smriti Singh

Manipal '22

A passionate writer since my childhood, I’m a true believer of the saying, “The pen is mightier than the sword.” Among many other things, I’m a technology enthusiast. I’m fascinated by artificial Intelligence and all things ML. I’m also a proud feminist, a budding coder and confident leader.
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