For a long time television treated its female characters as little more than supporting players – people who played second fiddle to the men in their lives. It gets tiring to see women in the same, old roles with little to no variation on their personality (nagging girlfriend, anyone?). But things are changing. It’s a slow burn, but we’re starting to see women who are role models, women who stand up for what they believe in and women who refuse to let the world hold them back. In that vein, here are some strong female characters we can all look up to.
1. Emma Swan – Once Upon A Time
Emma Swan spent much of her life looking out for herself. As a foster child, she knew from an early age that she couldn’t rely on other people to protect her. We quickly find out that Emma is actually the daughter of Snow White (yes, that Snow White) and Prince Charming, and that she’s the Saviour who will stop an evil curse. Since she’s the physical manifestation of true love, this means Emma has some intense superpowers. However, that magic can’t be activated until Emma’s reunited with her parents, proving that a family’s love is the most powerful thing in this world. Even though we know magic isn’t real, this show might make you want to re-evaluate your relationships and give them some more time and nurturing.
2. Clarke Griffin – The 100
Clarke Griffin is a teenager who’s sent back to earth 97 years after the nuclear war to see if the planet is safe again. She’s just one of 100 other juvenile delinquents who have to carry out this task, but straight away we find out Clarke is determined, loyal and intelligent. Clarke is a born leader who’s more concerned about the survival of her people than a romantic relationship. While she faces many moral quandaries throughout the show, she does her best to follow through on her ideals of what humanity should look like. The next time you’re feeling unsure of your own power and abilities, take a look at Clarke and remind yourself that you’re up to any challenge life throws at you.
3. Beverley Goldberg – The Goldbergs
It might seem counterintuitive to include proud, stay-at-home mom Beverley Goldberg on this list, but I have to give credit where it’s due. Bev might not work outside the home, but she has no problem reminding her family just how much work is actually involved in staying home. She’ll go to the ends of the earth for her family, is fiercely protective of her kids and has no problem laying down the law. When you watch The Goldbergs, you might start to reflect on all the sacrifices your own mom made all because she wanted the best for you. She might be a bit over the top at times, but Bev is definitely the kind of person I would want to have in my corner.
4. Abbie Mills – Sleepy Hollow
Abbie Mills has all the makings of a contemporary hero. She’s a smart policewoman who’s about to join the FBI when instead she find herself pursued by a headless horseman and has to team up with Ichabod Crane to try to stop the apocalypse. With a combination of wit and quick thinking, Abbie can always figure out a way to outsmart her enemies – even when the real battle is about fighting her personal demons. This goes to show that even the strongest women still need to let themselves get in touch with their feelings. Abbie is the perfect example of a woman learning to forgive herself for past transgressions.
5. Annalise Keating – How To Get Away With Murder
Of course I had to save the best for last. How To Get Away With Murder is one of the biggest new shows on TV and there’s no doubt that its popularity is led by Annalise, as portrayed by Viola Davis. Annalise is a Criminal Law professor and has all the qualities you’d expect from a great defense attorney – she’s brilliant, charismatic and persuasive. She won’t let anything get in the way of winning her case, even the truth. Annalise might have a hard exterior, but she’s powerful and has no problem owning her success. While her methods might be unorthodox, it’s refreshing to see a character who goes out of her way to get what she wants.
None of these women are perfect – just like none of us are in real life – but they’re shining examples of strong women we can all admire. Full of gumption, resourcefulness and moxie, we look forward to seeing what they’re going to do next. So the next time you’re feeling unsure of yourself, just ask, ‘what would these women do?’