Character Crush: Ladies on the Small Screen

Hello, hello, friends. Happy Women’s History Month from your favorite MWB woman. And I don’t even mind that I’m the only one here, thus leaving you with very few options for favorites.
I’ve finally managed to drag myself out of a work-exhausted stupor, which was coupled with an “adjusting to new medication” fog, to make a glorious return to the blogsophere. Well, I won’t say glorious; this is going to be extremely off the cuff. The point is that I’m here!

Because it’s Women’s History Month, I thought it apropos that all my posts this month be about fictional women in TV, books, and movies that I’ve enjoyed. Then I thought, Oh! I should do these on Wednesdays because of #WomanCrushWednesday. Then I realized it was a Thursday when I thought of it, and already the second Thursday of March, so I was already behind. So I decided I’d wait till today and talk about enough ladies to make up for the deficit. Which means I’m starting with my favorite characters from television.

Let’s jump in!

The Women of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”

Brooklyn NineNine Ladies

You may recall from our end-of-year podcast that I brought up how much I love this show. One of the reasons is absolutely because of the characters pictured above—Rosa, Amy, and Gina (from left to right, if you’re a heathen and haven’t watched the show). I love these ladies.

First, we have Rosa, the rough-edged, heavily armed detective who is a loyal friend and don’t you dare ask her any questions about her personal life, got it?! Then there’s Amy, the sweet but competitive type-A who comes from a long line of detectives, is obsessed with her commanding officer, and is currently dating detective Jake Peralta (played by Andy Samberg). Last, but if you called her least, she’d insult you and your entire family, Gina. She’s described herself as both “the Paris of people” and “the human form of the 100 emoji.” Do you really need to know more than that? Okay fine: She’s insanely sassy, often self-centered, and loves to make an entrance.

My favorite thing about these characters is how often they’re working together. They fight because friends often get into tiffs, especially when their personalities are so wildly different. But there’s none of that cattiness that people tend to expect from women who are potential sexual competitors. When the chips are down, these women are there for each other. They get their own subplots that don’t have anything to do with the male characters—and I feel like the ones with Captain Holt don’t count because he’s gay and therefore it’s not like they’re trying to appeal to his male gaze or whatever it is that’s supposed to make me mad when women are talking about men.

It might surprise you to learn that Gina is my favorite of the three. She’s brassy but she’s not TOO over-the-top, even when she’s insanely over the top. She’s nice when she wants to be, which is rarely, and she has her own kind of wisdom. She’s also fierce as hell. I’ve spent my life being too much of an Amy; I could stand to use a little more Gina in my life.

The above photo comes from a great episode where the three co-workers push each other to face a fear. For Amy, it’s being in an enclosed space; for Gina, it’s being around businesspeople; and for Rosa, it’s giving blood. At one point, Gina reveals that she was wearing a wig because she refused to put her hair in a ponytail. Classic!

I wish I could more easily think of a moment for each character to sum up why I love them so much, but the only one that springs to mind is Gina, and that’s because I always retweet or share this whenever I see it.

The Women of “Parks and Recreation”


Here’s another set of powerful, supportive, eclectic women whom I just love. Because I’m SO sure that you’ve watched this show, or at least vaguely familiar with the characters, I’m not going to tell you which one is which. Google it if you’re confused, and then get yourself to Netflix/Hulu.

Obviously everyone loves the best friendship between Leslie and Ann. Somehow I feel like I’m both of them in a friendship. I often aspire to be Leslie, anyway, because I love to craft and bake for people but I just don’t have her energy (I don’t think any actual human being has her energy). Leslie is the ambitious dreamer who somehow puts her career AND her loved ones before everything. Ann is the well-meaning, sometimes emotionally confused friend who isn’t afraid to make a few mistakes. They play off each other well, raising the other up or gently bringing her back down to Earth whenever she needs it (and sometimes not so gently because that’s friendship too). Their arguments are the right amount of ridiculous, and they both get their happily ever after even with the unfortunate Brendanawicz of it all from the second season. They are truly bestie goals.

Then there’s April and Donna. Donna was my gateway to loving Gina. She’s so sassy! She knows how to take care of herself—Treat Yo Self 2017 is in October!!—and she’s not embarrassed by her eccentricities. She loves herself, but she can admit when she’s wrong (somewhat begrudgingly, of course). I can even forgive her for the fact that her spirit dog is a cat. With all her side hustles, she’s arguably the most successful character on the show.
April is everyone’s favorite feigned child of darkness. Dead-pan and spiteful, with an incredibly soft spot for her lovable oaf of a husband, April is probably who Daria would’ve become if she had an internship in a small town’s parks and rec department instead of Jane (and if you subtracted the love of literature). Her anger is often a show, which makes it fun instead of frustrating, and she gave us Oren, who will always haunt my nightmares. I love that she grows throughout the entire show but never loses the essence of April.

I never questioned the amount of love I felt passing between these four, even April and Ann. It’s honestly just such a feel-good show, and these ladies are a huge part of that.

Penny Hartz from “Happy Endings”


Eventually, when my heart is slightly more healed from the devastation of its cancellation, I will talk about my love for the gone-too-soon “Happy Endings.” But for now, I will talk about my favorite character, Penny. She’s, in a word, ah-mah-zing. (Did you guess?)

Penny is definitely the least stable character to appear on this list. She’s the perpetual single girl who’s always denying her age and dealing with career ups and downs (but at least her mom is played by Megan Mullally!), and she’s pretty much always some kind of mess. But she’s also the reason that I started watching “Happy Endings” in the first place. In a commercial for the pilot, she’s at the gym with the two other women from the show when a younger woman comes up to her and calls her “Ma’am.” Penny freaks out and says, “I’m gonna go bawl my eyes out, and then I will be back to physically fight you.” For some reason, this cracked me up. I think it was actress Casey Wilson’s commitment. Regardless, it made me want to check out the show.

Penny quickly became my favorite character. She has great lines, great fashion, and she’s easily the most lovable character. She’s extremely optimistic (until you take away her sugar), and she’ll go so far as pay a roomful of strangers to lie to an old friend just so that person won’t think Penny is mean. That last one may be a bit extreme but that’s just part of Penny’s charm and her contribution to the shenanigans that make up the show. I’m the most like Penny, except for the ways that I’m like the married perfectionist Jane.

She also provides some great physical comedy and sight gags.
penny in helmet
penny baby tees

Penny is the best. “Happy Endings” is the best. You’re the best. I’m just okay.

I hope you enjoyed this first installation of my Women’s History Month posts. They’ll be kind of light and fun, which may not be what people are looking for when it comes to feminism . . . but with the way the world is going these days, I think we could use it. You’re welcome lol

See you next week!

May your all-women scenes pass the Bechdel test,

Photo Credit 1: The Mary Sue
Photo Credit 2:

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