1. Leslie Knope, Parks and Recreation
I could write a whole post about how Leslie, played by the amazing Amy Poelher, is the most empowering woman currently on television. (If you haven’t watched Parks and Rec, stop what you’re doing and start binge-watching. It gets amazing from season 3 onwards). For the uninitiated, Leslie Knope is a hugely passionate member for the (faux town) Pawnee district council of Indiana who has more enthusiasm and joy for what she does that anyone you’ve ever met.
Although her and Ben’s relationship may just be one of the cutest on-screen, the strongest relationship on the show is between her and BFF Anne (Rashida Jones). Knope basically coined the term ‘ovaries before brovaries’. Her feminist idols are Hillary Clinton and Eleanor Roosevelt. She’s a lady who’s not afarid to go after what she wants and fight for her morals and she believes in empowered women which we can see through her acting as a mentor for April.
2. Liz Lemon, 30 Rock
Right off the bat, we knew this show was going to be a goodie. Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) described Tina Fey’s Liz Lemon as a “New York, third wave feminist, college educated, single and pretending to be happy about it, over-scheduled and undersexed, you buy any magazine that says ‘healthy body image’ on the cover, and every two years you take up knitting for – about a week.”
One of the most striking things about 30 Rock, was that it brought to the attention of thousands, the importance of balance between work and life for women. Through her passion for work, self-depreciation, love of food and staying home on Saturday nights, Liz Lemon single-handedly became a generation’s ‘spirit animal’.
3. Lisa Simpson, The Simpsons
Lisa Simpson is pure gold. I grew up watching The Simpsons every night at 7pm (you kiwis out there will know what I mean). But it wasn’t until I re-watched some episodes in my late teens that I realised what a strong, empowering female character Lisa is. She always stuck up for what she believed in (she’s a 8-year-old vegetarian) and had unapologetic views about the way women are portrayed. One episode that always stuck out to me was when ‘Malibu Stacy’ was introduced to Springfield. Lisa was so outraged by the sexism portrayed through this doll that she co-created her own doll, Lisa Lionheart, to give girls something they could actually look up to.
4. Miranda Hobbes, Sex and the City
I only watched the whole SATC series last year and completely fell in love with Miranda. She is the definition of a second-wave feminist, she is a strong, powerful, career-driven woman who doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her. She stands up for what she believes in, will always stick up for her friends and her cynical manner about relationships is refreshing.
5. Daenerys Targaryen, Game of Thrones
Daenerys’ (Emilia Clarke) transformation from the beginning of GOT to the end of the current season is astounding. You could almost say she found feminism before feminism was a thing. We have seen the evolution from a naïve young girl who was sold to Khal Drogo by her brother for an army of 40,000 men (#jerk) to Khaleesi, mother of dragons. If that’s not the most empowering thing you’ve ever heard then please leave.
6. Shoshanna Shapiro, Girls
When we were first introduced to Brooklynite Shosh (portrayed beautifully by Zosia Mamet) she was a NYU student who believed loosing her virginity was of the utmost importance. But we’ve seen her transform over the series into a woman who knows what she wants (but not always how to get it). She’s fiercely loyal and always supportive of women.
7. Mindy Lahiri, The Mindy Project
Ever since The Office, Mindy Kaling has been my favourite. Her unapologetic self-confidence is truly inspiring. As well as writing and acting in the show (with her own namesake might I add), Mindy also produces and occasionally directs a show that is a champion for women the world over. We are shown a strong, feminine character that isn’t overtly feminist. She isn’t yelling from the rooftops or burning her bra. The Mindy Project encapsulates exactly what we here at The Undercover Feminist stand for – believing in equality and the power of females, without shoving it in anyone’s face.
8. Jessica Pearson, Suits
I love Suits. I love it almost a bit too much. I adore Harvey and Louis but what really shines through are the strong female characters. Rachel and her determination to get into law school, Donna and her quick wit and of course Jessica Pearson (Gina Torres), partner of her own law firm and one of the most powerful female characters currently on TV. What makes this show so great is that Jessica is a mentor to Harvey, one of the two male protagonists, and the tables are never turned. Whenever he is unsure, he will go to Jessica and it’s great to see woman, so passionate about her career path, bestow that knowledge onto her protégé.
Who are your favourite feminist TV characters? Let us know in the comments below.