Strong Women on the Tube

Sometimes commercials for TV shows just cannot get out of my head. Such is the most recent adds for Damages' star Glenn Close. In these TV ads she is portrayed as a tough woman yet I cannot say for sure as I have never seen the show. The commercial reminds me of the many television characters that came across as tough women. Here is a short list:
  • Lucy Ricardo in "I Love Lucy" played by the amazing Lucille Ball in the 50s and 60s. In the middle of all the comedy and slapstick an amazingly strong woman emerged. And make no mistake about it, though Lucy often deferred to Ricky, she was the strong one on the show.
  • Mary Richards in "The Mary Tyler Moore" show played by the wonderfully talented MTM herself in the 60s and 70s. This might have been one of the first shows that accentuated working woman. Though she worked for a man there was little doubt that Mary was a strong woman.
  • Major Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan in "M.A.S.H." played by Loretta Swit in the 70s and 80s. I loved the way that Swit played this nurse with sexy humor, tenderness and toughness. The character highlighted the role and courage of nurses in our military in a funny but serious way that had not been done before.
  • Claire Huxtable in "The Cosby Show" played by Phylicia Rashād in the 80s. Clair was representative of tough women who balance careers (she was a lawyer), motherhood and family life. The show was so funny yet the reality of family life was so representative of the times because of the way that it showcased a strong woman.
  • Murphy Brown in "Murphy Brown" played by Candice Bergen in the 80s and 90s. I loved the way that her toughness so often gave way to her gentle side. Her pregnancy caused quite a stir but surfaced an issue so prevalent in culture.
  • Peggy Olson in "Mad Men" played by Katherine Moss since 2007. The character is a bit retro as the setting is in the 60s. Yet Peggy's struggle to be seen as an equal in a male dominated corporate world is timeless. I like the way that she is shown as a very competent, though sometimes struggling, ground breaker in that world.
  • Deputy Chief Brenda Lee Johnson in "The Closer" played by Kyra Sedgwick
  • since 2005. Brenda is such an interesting woman - a multidimensional blend of southern femme fatale, genius detective and tough cop. I think that many people are like that. Maybe that is why the show is so popular?
When I think of these characters I am amazed at how so many of them are characters in situation comedies and not in TV dramas. Maybe that is the message in these characters? Maybe strength is all about what we do in the normal things of everyday life?

Who would you add to the list of strong TV women. What draws you to them?


  1. The star of CHASE, forgot her name. She was tough . She cared so much for those that she worked with and fought for those that couldn't help themselves. She was true to her convictions. Lol sounds funny talking about a tv character.

  2. I would add Ziva from NCIS!!! We do see her "soft" side but not often. She's all business!

  3. As I watch I Love Lucy re-runs I am surprised that what I found cute in the past now seems not so cute. Lucy the actress is very talented, and the show was a great vehicle for her. The role as I see it now is of a very sick person who could not be a worse role model. Totally self absorbed, the role is a recipe for disaster. Actress great! Role a mess of psychological disorders!


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