Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Twelve Fictional Females Who Don't Take Crap From Anybody

Hillary Clinton and her pantsuits got me thinking about tough women. Here are 12 fictional females - four a day, in no particular order - who never, ever let anyone push 'em around. Or at the very least have the guts to wreak spectacular havoc if they do.

Laura Roslin, "Battlestar Galactica"

WHY SHE RULES: On a show with genocidal robots, hardened military men, reformed terrorists and a desperate humanity doing anything it takes to survive, it might seem a bit odd that the former secretary of education turned president of the 12 colonies is the scariest bad-ass of all. Then again, this is "Battlestar Galactica," where optimists go to cry big, wet tears of existentialist despair. So it makes sense that the seemingly nice quiet terminally-ill lady is the one who tries to steal elections, airlocks prisoners, kidnaps babies, advocates the mass extermination of the Cylon race, believes herself to be a religious prophet and nearly lets a man bleed to death before her eyes. The thing is, she's pretty much right in doing all those things -- certainly not right in a moral sense, but right in a "these things have to be done and since I'm dying anyway, I may as well be the one to lose my soul by doing them."

Roslin is a character you root for despite her flaws, a woman made all the more three-dimensional by the fact that she does these things because she has to -- and she does them at the expense of her own soul. With every action she takes to protect humanity, she becomes less human and more like the machines she is trying to defeat. Lately, though, it seems like she might be on the road to redemption. Will it stick? Who knows? Wondering what that crazy Laura Roslin is going to do next is half the fun.

Mary Richards, "The Mary Tyler Moore Show"

"The Mary Tyler Moore Show," aside from being pretty damn funny, earns kudos for introducing one of the first female characters who truly functioned as an independent entity. Mary Richards wasn't anyone's wife or girlfriend or mother -- she was just a woman in her 30s trying to have a career and build a life for herself amid a never-ending stream of wacky neighbors, crazy potential boyfriends and hilariously bizarre co-workers. More often than not, Mary was the straight man, so to speak, the foil off which all the weirdness bounced but that also made her the rock. When everything else went phloo-ey, she was the one everyone held on to...even when clowns died and made people laugh so hard they nearly vomited. Truly groundbreaking, the character of Mary Richards paved the way for a lot of the fictional ladies we love today, including a certain neurotic resident of "30 Rock." Way to go, Mary Richards. No wonder she's got her own statue.

Dr. Jennifer Melfi, "The Sopranos"

First, let me just say that as much as I love "The Sopranos," I pretty much hate every single character on that show except for Silvio's hair and Dr. Jennifer Melfi, Tony Soprano's therapist, who time after time turns out to be way tougher than her whiny mobster patient. First poor Jennifer has to go on the lam because of Tony's shenanigans, then she gets raped and proves she's a much better person than I'd ever be by not letting Tony exact revenge on her assailant, then she has to spend time with her dumb-ass ex-husband who has the weirdest Italian fetish ever and then she's got to spend time with Peter Bogdonavitch - which, hello, how much torture can the woman endure? Worst of all, she has to endure the advances of Tony, who claimed he loved her and probably did in his own sick way, but what woman could handle all his wheezing and loud suits? (Although the loudness of the suits would probably drown out the wheezing...) No matter how many times Tony raged at her or tried to woo her, though, she stood up to him -- no small feat given that a) she kind of liked him and b) he's fucking scary! Melfi is a no-frills tough lady, one who holds her own against anyone and anything but without flash and flair. You gotta respect that.

Princess Leia, "Star Wars"

Because she never killed herself over that hairstyle. Seriously, that's strength. And she wore a metal bikini, which is INSANE! Talk about chafing. No, the real reason Princess Leia rocks is because she was the brains of the organization. You got your Ben Kenobis and your Luke Skywalkers and your yummy Han Solos but without her, they're all just lightsabers and muscle. Leia was a kick-ass soldier in her own right, never caving to Darth Vader's weird floating dental school torture devices and never giving up her comrades, even when the baddies blew up Alderaan and her father Jimmy Smits. And she killed Jabba the Hut in pretty much the most time consuming demise of a giant rubber slug ever. How cool is that? The only negative: she kind of made out with her brother, just like Angelina Jolie. Ew. Still though, she was a role model -- how many of us wanted to be Princess Leia when we were little? Yes, that's right, ALL OF US. Sure, mostly it was because we wanted to make out with Han Solo but a lot of it was because she kicked ass and knew how to take numbers. By Force. Get it? Force. Ha. Yeah....

Read Part II here.


Ailsa said...

I was expecting to see Cordelia Vorkosigan on the list.

Nightfall said...

Hooray strong women!!

And hooray Silvio's hair!!

Can't wait to see who else made the cut...

Kathe said...

I hope you put yourself on that list cuz you totally rule! And hell yes, I still want to be Princess Leia. :)

onepinkshoe said...

I'm not sure if you saw this, but this is a list of Hollywood's 5 Saddest Attempts at Feminism:

At least they get it right sometimes! Oh, and Roslin FTW. I love her.

grace said...

That description has very nearly convinced me that I need to watch "Battlestar Galactica."

The Modern Gal said...

Mary Richards is the reason I'm the strong woman I am today. I AM going to make it after all.

Liz said...

Ailsa, I'm sorry to say I've never read those books but I am a fan of characters named Cordelia, whether they're in King Lear or Buffy.

Nightfall, so nice to get a hooray for Sil's hair. That wig should've gotten its own spin-off. I love that thing.

Kathe, thank you so much for your comment. I was having a lousy day at work and you totally made me smile.

Onepinkshoe, that's a great list. And totally true. I'm going to link to that one tomorrow.

Grace, trust me. You want to watch BSG. It's awesome in every way imaginable...and this is coming from someone who had to be dragged in front of the TV to watch it for the first time. I really think you'll like it.

Modern Gal, high five on Mary Richards. Whenever I feel like I've done something well, I picture her throwing that hat up in the air. It's like a girl solidarity thing. :)

Anna van Schurman said...

Mary Richards? Really? Because I always wanted to be Rhoda. She let you KNOW what she was thinking and feeling. Mary seemed so...limp.

Liz said...

Anna, I agree that Mary always seemed passive but she was the problem solver. Rhoda would get upset about stuff and Mary would be the one who fixed it. That's why Mary got my vote. Nothing against Rhoda though...she was a pretty swanky lady too. :)

cleartrampoline said...

Nice list. I couldn't agree more about Mary Tyler Moore. She's so awesome. :)

ea757grrl said...

Absolutely right about Mary Richards! I grew up with that show, and learned an awful lot from her about being strong and independent.

I'm looking forward to the rest of the list.