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The Most Empowering Women on Television

I like television. I can admit that. For as long as I can remember, there have always been the people who have turned their noses up to the idea of watching Primetime’s most popular shows.

Some would rather read, and others would rather play a video game or crossword puzzle. There are also those who simply prefer movies (films are less commitment in the long run). While I can respect all of that, I do not yield to the idea that television is useless.

In recent years, TV has brought us some of the strongest female characters. Though they are, of course, mostly fictional, the authority they command in their domain couldn’t be more real. For teenagers and young women, the display of diverse, smart, and ambitious women is nothing short of inspiring.

Olivia Pope (Scandal)

With the world at her feet, Olivia Pope has become the number one “fixer” in all of Washington D.C. Come hell or high water, Pope works tirelessly to satisfy her clients’ needs and serves as a tough but supportive leader to her staff. She’s a total badass. And based on her wardrobe and apartment, I think it’s safe to say that the job is rewarding for reasons beyond precedence.

Jane Villaneuva (Jane The Virgin)

As one of the more relatable characters on television for her dedication to her family and middle-class lifestyle, Jane’s most admirable quality is her integrity. She’s honest with herself and others. Although this honesty sometimes comes off as bluntness, the bottom line is that she can’t keep a secret from her loved ones. At only 24 years old, she lives her life by the rules she’s set forth for herself, and she doesn’t let anyone change her mind (She owns her virginity!)

Mindy Lahiri (The Mindy Project)

This goofball marches to the beat of her own drum, and what’s more empowering than that? By showing us that there’s always room to grow (she successfully opened her own fertility clinic while still working as an OB/GYN and being a mommy to her toddler, Leo), Lahiri is the perfect example of the smart, funny, opinionated, and fearless gal everyone wants to be.

Alicia Florrick & Diane Lockhart (The Good Wife)

Although The Good Wife just recently said “goodbye” to Primetime, the show’s essential qualities of the female leads are embedded in my brain forever.

Alicia Florrick, though difficult to understand at times (why didn’t she just divorce Peter from the beginning?), showed us exactly what it means to take control of our lives—and that it’s never too late to do it. She held her own (on and off) in an office of sharks for seven years. In the time that she didn’t spend at Lockhart/Gardner, she spent starting her own firm. She wasn’t afraid to be bold, and she never apologized for who she was.

Having held a name partner position at a law office for decades, Diane Lockhart served as a strong, but graceful leader and mentor throughout the season. She was never afraid to speak her mind, putting her mentees in their places when necessary (The best example: GW ’s series finale).

Miranda Bailey (Grey’s Anatomy)

For nearly a decade, we watched Bailey climb her way to the top. While it was clear all along that the lady was a born leader, her perseverance is most significant to female viewers. She believed in herself; she owned her talent (“I was made for this job. This job was made for me.”) Who isn’t inspired by that?

Annalise Keating (How To Get Away With Murder)

This superstar attorney takes orders from no one. She leads fearlessly and teaches pridefully. While, of course, we wouldn’t want to mimic some of her methods for literally getting away with murder (!), her dedication to her profession as a lawyer and a teacher is admirable (It was this devotion that seemed to have gotten her out of near-poverty.)

Temperance Brennan (Bones)

Charming viewers for years with her incredible wits, Brennan’s inventiveness and strong will (she’s almost always right and reasonable, and she likes to let everyone know it!) is something to commend.

Red (Orange Is The New Black)

In a mere three seasons, this badass has managed to teach us quite a bit about loyalty, leadership, and personal growth. She shed her naivete (as we saw from the flashbacks to her life before prison) and developed a new persona. Throughout the years at Litchfield, she successfully fed, protected, and guided her fellow inmates. She’s also demonstrated that she’s a force to be reckoned with (who can forget that bloody-tampon-for-breakfast bit?)

UC Davis Senior Orange County, CA English & French Double Major Writer, old Hollywood film fanatic, world-class shoe collector
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