Feminism – From Bras to Bros: Say yes to TV and strong female characters

In light of a difficult few weeks, we would like to take this chance to escape into television for a bit. Between election season, Superstorm Sandy, the Jessica Ridgeway case and an onslaught of midterms, it has been a trying time. During this strife, a good coping method can be to dive into some fun TV shows, and because it can be difficult to find TV shows with good role models and strong women, CUI would like to introduce you to a few of our feminism favorites.

“I Love Lucy”

(CU Independent Illustration/Josh Shettler)

Starting with Lucille Ball’s “I Love Lucy” in the 1950s, Americans were introduced to the concept of a strong and funny woman. Although this show was very gendered and now seems extremely dated and sexist, Lucy paved the way for many female comic geniuses who would follow. “I Love Lucy” was one of the first shows all about a woman’s everyday life, and America fell in love with her.

“The Mary Tyler Moore Show”

In 1970, “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” came along. It is one of Becky’s favorites and is easy to look at now through the lens of a “30 Rock” viewer (more on that later). After a break-up, Mary Richards, a single 30-year-old, moves to Minneapolis where she works as a producer for a news show. The beauty of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” is that romance is never a central plot point. Instead, the viewers find pleasure in Richards’ platonic relationships with her grumpy-but-lovable boss, her nosy neighbor and her best friend. The show is still funny and relatable today and is on Hulu.

“Xena: Warrior Princess”

In the early ’90s came “Xena: Warrior Princess.” In childhood, Mira’s mother would make her a crispy grilled cheese, and they would sit and watch Xena kicking butt together. Xena is a character who was able to be both sexy and womanly while still defeating enemies with strength that exceeded men’s.

“Buffy The Vampire Slayer”

After Xena came “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” a thin, blonde killer who dated boys and vampires when she wasn’t busy slaying demons (here we must note how infrequently women of color are on TV or portrayed positively). Buffy was badass enough to go out into the dark, scary night on her own to face bloodsuckers. And while she definitely had her band of helpers — including the brain of the team, Willow, also a woman — Buffy carried the show.

“Gilmore Girls”

Then there is Mira’s favorite show, “Gilmore Girls.” This TV show was unique in its portrayal of a single mom who ran away from home to raise her daughter. While Lorelai, the mother, does end up in a fairy tale-like town where the townspeople take in both mother and daughter, which is definitely unrealistic, this show hits home through their strong mother-daughter bond. Both mother and daughter are independent, smart, witty, able to face the world on their own.

“30 Rock”

After “Gilmore Girls,” TV has segued smoothly into Tina Fey’s “30 Rock,” which is almost a modern re-creation of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” “30 Rock” focuses on more than just romantic relationships. In fact, the most endearing and humorous moments of the show come from the interactions that Liz Lemon (played by Fey) has with her boss Jack (played by Alec Baldwin). Fey’s quick humor and cutting sarcasm along with recent pro-woman advocacy have proved that there is indeed space for funny women in today’s TV programming.

Regardless of political affiliations, anybody who appreciates strong women roles and good TV can find some escape in our favorite TV shows. Regardless of what direction our country is headed in, one constant will always be funny, smart women on our TV’s.

Contact CU Independent Staff Writers Mira Winograd at Mira.winograd@colorado.edu and Becky Powell at Becky.powell@colorado.edu.

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