Six great female TV characters

Netflix has seen fit to highlight a specific category of TV programmes “with a strong female lead” – which means that they are getting to know me very well. (Though the fact that they keep trying to force a Snoop Dog – Lion? – documentary on me shows that they still have a way to go.)

sagaI’m currently enjoying Saga Noren in Season II of The Bridge. She’s smart, tough and blunt, oblivious to social cues –  there are more than a few hints that she might be on the autistic spectrum. Sometimes, it’s hilarious. In one of my favourite scenes this season, her work partner Martin thanks her for helping to save his son from danger, and he gives her a massive hug. She pats him awkwardly on the arm and asks him: “Are we done yet?” She also honest, direct and drives a great sports car.




ladonnaLaDonna in Treme. She’s fierce, true to herself and incredibly brave. The scenes involving her sexual assault and how she coped afterwards are incredibly moving. She’s nobody’s fool, but also quite loving and sentimental.




kalindaKalinda Sharma in The Good Wife. The definition of badass. She’s not just a top-notch investigator, she’s loyal, loving and fiercely protective over those she cares about. She’s also…Kalinda. There is no other female character on TV with such agency and complexity, emotionally and sexually. She defies stereotypes of both gender and race. Archie Panjabi fully deserves her Emmy and should be celebrated more here at home in Britain.






bassettOk, so American Horror Story is not a show I particularly enjoy (mainly because it is ridiculous) but Angela Bassett chews up every scene she is in. Marie Laveau is a bit of a prickly pear – but she’s a survivor. Bassett gives her an intensity that elevates the character from  simply being a foil to Fiona, played by Jessica Lange. She’s cunning, passionate and unapologetic.






damages Patty Hewes in Damages. Yes, it’s off TV now, but it’s one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. It’s sharp, keeps you guessing and Glenn Close is the brilliant,  morally ambiguous, often cunning, sometimes vulnerable, Patty Hewes, a top lawyer who is vastly successful in her professional life but pretty dysfunctional in her personal relationships. It’s also wonderful to see an older woman headlining such a brilliant show.







creggCJ Cregg, White House spokesman and all-round clever lady in the West Wing. Again, off TV but CJ is one of the best characters Aaron Sorkin ever wrote. Let’s just forget the Newsroom ever happened.

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