Female Sundays: The best female leads of 2017

Next on my mission to celebrate the best in film and television during 2017, I’d like to give out 10 shoutouts to the best female characters on television this year. Let’s kick things off with….

Michaela Pratt (Portrayed by Aja Naomi King)- How to Get Away with Murder 

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Favourite Quote: He doesn’t love me. But here’s the thing: I love me

Despite all of the insanity that Michaela and crew have gone through for the past 4 seasons of HTGAWM, she has never lost sight of her greatest strength: determination. Season 4 proved this more than any other season, as it saw everyone try to move forward with their lives after Annalise fired the Keating Five that abruptly became Four after Wes was murdered. Michaela wasn’t having it after having dedicated her life to Annalise and risked everything she had for a woman she so strongly admired and aspired to be, but she quickly picked herself up and decided that Annalise nor the demons from her past were going to halt her from success. She immediately got offered her dream post-grad job at a legal firm and quickly impressed Tegan, her new boss. Michaela isn’t perfect, of course, and her biggest flaw is her need to impress her superiors when really she has all the capability to run her own firm. Annalise pointed out herself that Michaela is using Tegan to replace her, and always seems to be seeking a ‘maternal’ figure to compensate for the fact that she didn’t have a reliable one growing up. That may very well be true, but you can’t fault Michaela when you consider everything she’s powered through. She also fights for everything she’s passionate for, and while she is one kick-ass independent woman that doesn’t rely on a man, her blossoming relationship with Asher has been genuine and mutual. When questioned by Asher on whether she really loves him and admires him, Michaela goes to the lengths of splashing ketchup all over her would-be wedding dress to ex-fiance Aidan. It will be interesting to see how Michaela moves forward with life in the second half of season four, premiering in Jan, as she is now implicated in another potential homicide.

Favourite Moment from Season 4: When Tegan gives Michaela a pair of blue studded Chirstian Louboutin heels as a reward for her hard work- seeing Michaela so happy in that moment is wonderful and she totally deserves it. We then are treated to the most joyful scene in the midst of a rather gloomy and anxiety-ridden season, where Michaela walks through the halls of the law firm in her new heels and totally owns it- she is not one to mess around with.

 

Beth Pearson (Portrayed by Susan Kelechi)- This is Us 

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Favourite Quote: You and me? We can do anything. 

This is Us is composed of many wonderful characters, all who are worth recognising, but for the purposes of this female celebratory post, Beth leads above all the rest. Beth is not defined by being the wonderful wife and mother that all us viewers know she is- what makes Beth so special is her ability to be real with every person in her life. Beth has an unmatchable calmness to her, even when she becomes upset, she manages to remain cool as a cucumber. Her interactions are genuine and never merely reactive, and she is always polite but she will never beat around the bush. A refreshing contrast from her husband Randall, the ever so loveable but ultimate people-pleaser, Beth knows what she wants in life but is willing to understand what other people in her life want to. She has a very subtle way of making everyone around her feel comfortable, such as when Beth encouraged Deja to open about the condition her hair was in through conversation. Or when Rebecca visited Beth and Randall when they were pregnant with their first child, and Rebecca asked Beth for help to join Facebook because she wanted to feel part of a community. Beth quickly caught on that Rebecca was feeling lonely and was missing a partner in life after Jack- she is incredibly perceptive and has a natural ability to make those around her feel at ease but simultaneously on edge as she’s not afraid to call you on your bullshit (and she will).

Favourite Moment from Season 2: Beth smoking the ‘imaginary cigarette’ is one of the greatest moments of season 2. Something that appears to be such a silly coping mechanism is actually evoked as incredibly powerful. In this scene, Beth is ‘smokes’ an invisible cigarette that she holds between her fingers as she contemplates whether she wants to adopt a child and becomes frustrated with Randall’s impatience to quickly move forward with such a big decision. Randall then joins her outside and they discuss their thoughts on everything, and this moment becomes even more touching when the two share the imaginary cigarette together as a stress reliever.

 

Janet (Portrayed by D’Arcy Carden) 

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Favourite Quote: Fun Fact- Columbus is in the Bad Place because of all of the raping, salve trade and genocide. 

In the Good Place, which is actually the Bad Place in one of the best twists a sitcom has ever granted us with, Janet is the only real good ‘thing’- I say thing because Janet is not real. Michael stole Janet from The Good Place in order to have a convincible ‘good Janet’ in his twisted neighbourhood. Janet always managed to lighten the mood, and never fails to put a smile on my face. No matter how many rebooted versions of Janet we are treated to, Janet always remains more charming than ever and manages to deliver even the most pessimistic news with genuine optimism and cheer.

Favourite Moment from Season 2: When Janet starts malfunctioning in the funniest ways (e.g. barfing a frog) and therefore endangers the functioning of the neighbourhood because of her jealousy over Jason and Tahini’s relationship. Janet may not be ‘real’ and is not meant to be capable of love, but she is the most loveable character on the show and to see her relationship with Jason flourish and then disappear because of all of the reboots and wiping of people’s memories is heartbreaking. As hilarious as it can be to watch how Janet’s jealousy manifests itself, it also proves how emotionally developed Janet has become.

 

Fallon Carrington (Portrayed by Elizabeth Gillies)- Dynasty 

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Favourite Quote: The best thing mom ever taught us is what we learned when she left- you can only rely on yourself. And me. 

Overly-priveledged? Yes. Entitled? Yes. Selfish? Yes. Narcissistic? Yes. Manipulative? Yes.

All qualities that I do not admire in a person, but this is television after all, and I’ll admit that I’m always far more intrigued and rooting for the ‘queen-bees’ purely from an entertainment value perspective. Dare I say it, but Blair Waldorf, you have met your match. Fallon has a lot of growing up to do, but despite her flaws, she equally balances them with her charm, quick wit, intelligence, and ambition. No one knows how to deliver a one-liner/loaded come back like Fallon does. Underneath her nonchalant/greater than thou attitude is a vulnerable being that has been consistently disappointed by those closest to her. We know this more than ever when Culhane abruptly ends their love twist that Fallon took too long to acknowledge as a relationship- Fallon was clearly heartbroken, and this showed a refreshingly honest and real side to her.

Favourite Moment from Season 1: When Fallon hardly even flinches to the realisation that herself and her entire family are being held at gunpoint by the the not-so-crazy pretending to be crazy (which is actually crazy) Claudia. There is a lot you can fault Fallon for, but one thing she is consistently brilliant at is being fearless. Watching her call out Claudia for all her bullshit while she had a gun pointed straight at her face was terrifying but solidified why I love Fallon as a character so much.

 

Angela Valdez (Portrayed by Lela Loren)- Power

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Favourite Quote: Esto fue por Greg (this was for Greg) 

Going into its’ fifth season next year, Power deserves praise for it’s diverse casting of several African American and Latin American actors that are main characters on the show. Angela Valdez, a bad-ass Latina federal agent, makes this list because of Lela’s brilliant performance of a woman caught between her passion to put an end to a drug cartel, and her love for the man heading up said cartel. I get the feeling that Angela is the character you love, hate, love to hate, or hate to love- I just love to love her. In a series full of anti-heroes, Angela is no exception. Her work ethic is questionable at best- but her intentions are always in the name of justice (she did get the supposed love of her life arrested when she thought he killed her colleague and former boyfriend, Greg).

Favourite Moment from Season 4: This was one bounces directly off from my favourite quote- the moment Angela received justice for Greg. When we find out that Mike Sandoval is the mole, Angela brilliantly and deviously orchestrates a plan that manipulates Sandoval into thinking the best way to protect himself is to testify with all the information he has on the drug cartel, including it’s participants (Ghost aka Angel’a on-again off-again lover). Really what this does is ensure that someone murder Sandoval while he’s in protective custody, which is guaranteed as he has too much information on everyone. When Angela walks into the crime scene of his death, she kneels over his dead body and says ‘Esto fue for Greg (this was for Greg)’.

 

Cheryl Blossom (Portrayed by Madelaine Petsch)- Riverdale

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Favourite Quote: I’m in the mood for chaos 

Oh Cheryl- she really hasn’t had the easiest time. Manipulative, hypersensitive, mean, and catty, it would be easy to group Cheryl into the ‘basic bitch’ mean girl clique. But Cheryl is far more than a stereotype. Cheryl is a character that you root for because of the series of unfortunate events her life keeps taking, and she maintains a great amount of strength despite it all. No one is safe in Riverdale, but it’s safe to say that Cheryl’s had the darkest turn of events. Right off the bat, we discover that Cheryl’s twin brother (and closest companion), Jason, was murdered. By the end of season one, we discover that it was Cheryl’s dad who murdered Jason in cold blood, and when confronted with his reality, Cheryl’s father proceeds to hang himself (which Cheryl sees). She is now left in the care of her evil mother who seems to only care about keeping up appearances. In season 2, Veronica’s ex-boyfriend spikes her drink and attempts to rape her (fortunately her friends beat the shit out out him before he commits his sickly crime).

Here’s hoping that Cheryl has a better 2018- she sure deserves it!

Favourite Moment from Season 1: When Cheryl burns down her house in the season one finale, enraging her mother, but finally having control of what happens (even if only momentarily) is a liberating moment for Cheryl and the viewer.

 

Madeline Mackenzie (Portrayed by Reese Whiterspoon)- Big Little Lies

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Favourite Quote: I love my grudges. I tend to them like little pets. 

Madeline is a fearlessly loving and loyal friend that I would love to have but would hate to have an altercation with regarding who saw that last available parking spot first. Her biggest flaw is her hypocrisy- after all she always seems to be judging others but simultaneously she can be the most non-judgmental person you’ll ever meet. She is also incredibly passionate, about everything, but that passion more often that not turns into angers which then produces some hilarious one-liner zingers such as ‘get fucked’. Madeline may always be getting ahead of herself, and she is the definition of stubborn, but she instantly becomes loveable because of how unhinged her actions and reactions are.

Favourite Moment: When she explains/attempts to justify/hilariously fails at recounting her hook-up with Joseph. Clearly knowing what she’s done is wrong as she’s cheated on her husband (multiple times at this point), she first make it sound like Joseph un-welcomingly put the moves on her when she indeed very much welcomed it- she then reveals she slaps him in the end when she realises what they’re doing isn’t right.

 

Rebecca Bunch (Portrayed by Rachel Bloom)- Crazy Ex-Girlfriend 

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Favourite Quote: I don’t want to feel this way. I reject this feeling. I respectfully decline this feeling. 

There is no show out there like Crazy Ex-Girlfriend- a musical dramedy that tackles mental health head on while still managing to be hilarious and genuine (and never mockful). Much of its’ successful formula is due to the show’s lead, Rebecca, who manages to become a character that viewers empathise with whilst combating mental illness. Over the span of three seasons, we have seen Rebecca spiral and constantly commit self-destructive decisions that are selfish and ultimately also harm those around her. However, the viewers (like Rebecca) know deep down there is real hope for her and that she needs to face her inner demons head on. While it was painful to watch Rebecca hit rock bottom this season and attempt suicide, it was refreshing to see a show portray mental health so honestly while in no way glamorising it. We then see Rebecca get a diagnosis- something that really made me connect with her character as I am constantly seeking to understand where I fall in the mental health spectrum). The show continues to evoke hope as Rebecca is determined to get better, but also shows that recovery will take time and is in no way linear. It was also healing for me to see a mainstream program treat characters of mental health with empathy and show the need to look after ourselves whilst not being hard on ourselves.

Favourite Moment of Season 3: After Rebecca starts getting treatment for her Border Personality Disorder diagnosis, she originally gets ahead of herself and attempts to be an ‘A Plus’ student in hopes of a quick fix, but quickly learns from her doctor that her treatment will be a journey. The beauty from this moment is that Rebecca learns how to become more connected with her decision-making process, while also giving herself a break and allowing herself to be silly without overly questioning herself. We then are treated to a hilariously innocent sexting session between Rebecca and Nathan, where they use trees as a sexual euphemism. It was comical and heart-warming to see Rebecca genuinely happy and at peace with herself.

 

Amy Santiago (Portrayed by Melissa Fumero)- Brooklyn Nine-Nine 

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Favourite Quote: I’m a notary. No big deal. I met the comptroller. 

Brooklyn Nine-Nine, the NYPD situational comedy, successfully put together a diverse set of characters that kick stereotypes out the door whilst also tackling the very present issues these characters must face due to their gender and ethnicity.

Amy Santiago, an ambitious type-A personality female detective, is a brilliant ‘fuck-you’ to the Latina stereotype that Hollywood loves to depict in television and film. By the way, I am not saying there is anything with owning the qualities Hollywood defines as being Latina, the issue is that more often that non female Latina characters are simply defined for being Latina. They’re expected to always be loud, speak broken English, start salsa dancing whenever Latin music comes on, sexy, voluptuously shaped, and to be very carefree. I love it when television programs have Latina female representation at the forefront whilst also having developed those characters into people who are in no way defined by being Latina.

Over the 5 seasons she has been on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Santiago has stolen our hearts with her high-achieving (whilst hilariously overly-anal at times) female empowering persona. It was has been wonderful to see her fall in love and become engaged to Jake Peralta, her literal polar opposite whose living style would have probably set her cleanliness/organisational anxiety over the roof a few seasons ago.

Keep on doing you Amy, everyone’s rooting for you!

Favourite Moment of Season 5: In the show’s 99th episode, when the squad is stranded and crunched for time to get back to New York so Captain Holt can make a very important interview, Amy’s superpower organisational skills take charge and she plans out a complicated yet incredibly effective journey to get them all back to NYC with 5 minutes to spare for Holt’s interview. The squads jaws all drop seeing Amy going into planning mode, and the best part is seeing how proud and in love Peralta is at seeing his fiancé completely kick chaos in the ass.

 

Kimmy Schmidt (Portrayed by Ellie Kemper)- Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

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Favourite Quote: Hashbrown: no filter

Life can feel rather bleak at times and television is the perfect form of escapism when we need a break from the world and ourselves. Kimmy Schmidt has always been wonderfully joyous, optimistic, and proof that if you somehow ever get kidnapped by a reverend who keeps you locked up in a bunker for 12 years, there is still plenty to be grateful and hopeful for.

Kimmy may come off as daft at times, but she’s never short of genuine and sweet and has the biggest heart out there (in television, that is). She never fails to put a smile on my face 🙂

Favourite Moment from Season 3: Anytime she smiles- it’s just so darn genuine and very heart-warming.

 

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