Jessica Jones launched on Netflix over the weekend, and I couldn’t have been more excited. Watching the series over a day, Jessica secured herself as one of my favourite characters to watch on TV. She’s the kind of character I had in mind when I asked for more unlikeable female characters in videogames. Flawed but no less wonderful for it, Jessica is absolutely human, even if she’s superhuman. As a celebration of Jessica Jones, I’ve put together a list of female characters it’s been a pleasure to watch kick ass on TV over the years. This isn’t an exhaustive list by any means (I watch a lot of TV, but I do have other obligations too) it’s just a celebration of characters on TV who aren’t just there to be female figures, they feel like real complex people. So, in no particular order:
17) Becky – Utopia
Becky in Channel 4’s Utopia might be the only female member of the online chat group, but she proves herself to be a good leader of the group, albeit a reluctant one. She’s practical, witty, and self-preserving. Best of all she’s a character that seems genuinely real and we love her for it.
16) CJ Gregg – The West Wing
For the longest time I wanted to be C J Gregg. She’s the White House press secretary and as the White House press secretary, she doesn’t have time for anyone’s bullshit, particularly not sexist political bullshit. CJ is intelligent, and funny, and she’s more than capable of putting anyone in their place.
15) Buffy – Buffy the Vampire Slayer
As a vampire slayer, Buffy is tough in the traditional “I’ll kick you ass” sense of the word, but she’s also a relatable teenage character you can’t help but love. She has her flaws, but even if she didn’t spend her night hours killing vampires, she’s loyal, protective, and has more emotional strength that I ever will.
14) Kara Danvers – Supergirl
Supergirl’s first series came out just before Jessica Jones, adding another much needed female superhero to a pretty dude-dominated landscape. Not only does she make a point of reclaiming the word ‘girl’ and making it mean something badass, she encourages women not to hide their own power and strength just to make others feel comfortable. She’s super.
13) Starbuck – Battlestar Galactica
Starbuck is one of the toughest female characters to have graced our screens. She’s talented and she knows it, but her arrogance is part of what makes her a great TV heroine. She also has great growth as a character throughout the series, remaining the tough Starbuck we love whilst opening up to those around her.
12) Scully – The X-Files
Agent Scully is one of my favourite characters to have been on TV, largely because she approaches everything with a healthy dose of skepticism despite her field of work and she’s around 75% sass. She’s intelligent, capable, and always sure of herself. Remember that time she called Mulder out for his bullshit insistence that he be the one to drive? Yeah, she’s awesome.
11) Jessica Pearson – Suits
Jessica is the boss. Full stop. She demands the best of those who work for her because she knows they’re capable of it, she’s cutthroat when she has to be, and she runs a successful law firm like she was born to do it.
10) Peggy Olsen – Mad Men
Peggy Olsen is a character who shatters the thick-as-hell glass ceiling of the 1960s ad industry and works her way from secretary to being a successful Copy Chief. Peggy knows what she wants out of her career and she makes sure she gets it, even if everything is against her. Watching her achieve her goals is one of the most enjoyable character journeys I’ve watched on TV.
9) Abbi and Ilana – Broad City
Abbi and Ilana are inseparable friends and the strength of their friendship is part of what makes them some of our favourite heroines on TV. They might be loud, careless, and generally flawed, but they’re also endlessly supportive, liberated, and confident in themselves.
8) Daenerys Targaryen – Game of Thrones
Daenerys might start her story subject to the whims of her tyrant brother and husband, but pretty soon she’s walking through fire and raising three dragons. She’s principled, staunch in her beliefs, and she won’t suffer traitors nor fools, Daenerys still manages to be a compassionate leader, determined to do what’s best for her people.
7) Detective Kate Beckett – Castle
Detective Kate Beckett works hard, demands authority, and gets the job done, all in the name of making the world a better place. Kate is intelligent, professional, and she has an incredibly strong moral compass, and she’s one of my favourite characters on TV.
6) Leslie Knope – Park and Recreation
Leslie Knope is the queen of positive motivation. She doesn’t let failure discourage her, instead she uses it as another chance to try. She’s a loyal friend (the best gift-giver), a hard worker, and a political force to be reckoned with.
5) Peggy Carter – Agent Carter
Peggy Carter is so much more than the love interest of Captain America; she’s a quick-thinking ass-kicking spy who’s more than capable enough to handle the crap that comes with working in her male-dominated field.
4) Alicia Florrick – The Good Wife
Alicia Florrick takes her husband’s sex scandal head on, returning to her law career after years away and works her way up to partner whilst providing for her two children. If that’s not strength in action, I don’t know what it. Plus, she has a brilliantly wicked sense of humour.
3) Michonne – The Walking Dead
Michonne is stoic, resourceful, and absolutely a survivor, never shying at the back when it comes to taking on some Walkers. But even despite the hardships she’s faced, she still manages to be compassionate and a loyal friend to those she travels with.
2) Veronica Mars – Veronica Mars
Veronica Mars is another teenage character who is wise beyond her years when it comes to some things, but still finds herself lost in teenage dramas, proving that when you’re a teenage girl they can feel just as important as hunting down criminals and they shouldn’t be dismissed. Veronica is smart, perceptive, and a great detective.
1) Sophia Burset – Orange is the New Black
Orange is the New Black is filled with strong female characters, but Sophia stands out as being particularly amazing. Sophia is brave, confident, and most importantly, she’s strong enough to continue to maintain a sense of self in a transmisogynistic system that does its best to tear her down.
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