With the recent success of Jodie Whittaker representing female leads on the small screen, why not take a look at other strong leads that perhaps you haven’t heard about? Whether you need a bit of female empowerment to get you through the week or just want something new to obsess over, there’s plenty of women on the small screen that you definitely need to hear about.
Villanelle – Killing Eve (2018)
Jodie Comer’s talent is encapsulated in her depiction of Villanelle. The way she embodies a completely different representation of the assassin archetype proves that the overdone TV tropes still have the capacity to be reimagined. Villanelle is a serial killer who you can’t get enough of. Her performance within the programme proves there is an art to television. Her fashion, humour and charisma are what makes the show so captivating. The cast accommodates numerous three-dimensional female characters, in addition to the eponymous character. The interplay of the relationship between the lead detective’s obsession with Villanelle and Villanelle’s equivocal desires towards the detective replicates how you will become hypnotised by Villanelle.
Evie – Lovesick (2014-2018)
In a programme with two dominant male characters, Evie shines through as the female lead. She is the typical girl next door but can hold her own, her character is portrayed so naturally that you can’t help but love her. The programme follows the relationship of three flatmates, Luke, Dylan and Evie in a non-linear time frame. The cutting back and forth between past and present gives you a glimpse of how the characters end up, adding a special hint of nostalgia to the moments like when the characters first meet. For what started as a sitcom and developed into something that deals with heartbreak, Evie is a female lead with a twist, she’s a character you can admire whilst also wanting her to be your best friend.
Morgana – Merlin (2008-2012)
I can’t think of any other female lead to have transformed as much as Morgana did across the five series of Merlin. The complexity to her character goes beyond any other female lead that I have seen in historical/mythological fiction the past few years. Although Merlin aired on the BBC in 2008, the politics it deals with are still relevant today. Morgana was betrayed by her family and scared of the powers she possessed. Her fear pushed her to find help from others and ultimately turn on her family because of the rejection and betrayal she endured. The progression of her character is spurred by reason. She begins as the ingenue that everyone adores, her genuine compassion embodies her character in the initial series. When she is failed by her family, you’re encouraged to fear her transition into the minacious woman she ultimately becomes whilst understanding the reasons for her doing so. Her motivations elevate her power in the programme making her a fair match for the main protagonist and someone to not be reckoned with, even though she isn’t technically the lead there wouldn’t be a show without her.
Donna – Suits (2011-present)
Donna is a powerhouse. She is the all seeing, all knowing, God of a woman who can do anything. She is the voice of reason in the show. She is the person keeping everyone in check and on their toes. Her performance exudes confidence, from her walk to her smile, Donna grabs your attention in every scene she is in. Her belief in herself is never faulted, even in positions of vulnerability. When beginning the series I questioned her ability to do everything, is her presentation positive for women? Is it constructive to present a woman without any doubts at all? But the answer is yes! She never lacks confidence but her emotions are brought to the forefront, showing a woman that can do both. Her indestructible confidence is something different than what is commonly shown on television.
Whether you’re looking for a thriller, comedy, fantasy, or drama, why not look for one with a disparate approach to the female character? I promise you’ll love them!