Women in TV have proven to set examples for individuals today, helping shape their goals and ambitions. Healthy and overdue are characters that don’t only maintain empowering and hardworking stories, but offer the multidimensional realities of what being a woman entails. There is no perfect way to be ‘iconic’ as women should not set themselves up to fulfil a perceived power standard for breaking gender barriers.
Wilhelmina Slater – Ugly Betty
“Should she slow down or you speed up?”
With unwavering drive to propel herself through the fashion industry, Wilhelmina is the supervillain we should all aspire to be as we take control of our lives. As a cold and intimidating career woman we see her conniving and utilising her resources to get to Editor-in-Chief (as she deserves) after four long seasons. Wilhelmina’s devotion and talents consistently are ignored as her dream position was handed to an incompetent man born into the company. Can we really see her as the enemy the show makes her out to be, for simply desecrating the barriers of misogyny and nepotism in the workplace? Although self-prioritising, she defends fellow overlooked voices, rewarding them for their loyalty and pushing them to assert themselves. Her imperfections are apparent, which she accepts, attempting to reconcile with her daughter, making motherly efforts and helping her hide a self-defence murder. Wilhelmina is passionate, strong-willed and stops at nothing for those she loves.
Lana Winters – American Horror Story
“I am tough, but I’m no cookie”
Lana is an LGBTQ+ icon who will do anything to get a good scoop. She becomes successful in the journalism industry, documenting her trauma to shed light on asylums and better herself. The ‘60s bigotry deemed her the same as the murderous and violent due to her sexual orientation. It takes a powerful woman to undergo Aversion therapy, sexual assault and giving birth to a murder’s child; whilst then being able to survive and prosper. Suffering these atrocities we gain insight into real, oppressive institutions. Despite the understandable incapability to raise her rapist’s child, she does visit him to see that he is okay and living the normal life she couldn’t possibly offer. Lana is a strong, courageous person persevering against almost all adversities the ’60s could throw at her.
Miranda Bailey – Grey’s Anatomy
“Men. From the very beginnin’ they just suck the life right outta you. I’m not leaving. I’m pregnant.”
As the only woman in her class as an intern, Miranda adopted a no-nonsense attitude towards being a surgeon, knowing she’d have to work twice as hard as a black woman to prove herself in a male-dominated industry. Being introduced as ‘The Nazi’, Miranda is a harsh, decisive, ball-busting Resident who is taken seriously because of her reputation and skill. She handles prejudices and struggles daily, treating a white supremacist rising above calmly and refuses to stop performing surgery despite being heavily pregnant. Miranda has no time for favouritism and values hard work, speaking out against favours shown by male attendings who are sexually involved with interns. Also, she reminds her colleagues constantly that they are medical professionals who don’t need men as she also leaves her husband for giving her ultimatums about her career. Miranda ultimately knows her worth!
Pam Beesly – The Office
“There’s a lot of beauty in ordinary things. Isn’t that kind of the point?”
Thinking of iconic women, we often go to outspoken individuals who know what they want and how to get it. Pam’s interesting journey of self-discovery is relatable. With limited portrayals of the mundane woman, powerful to audiences is this revelation within the unremarkable. Pam is unsure of who she is, stuck in an engagement to someone who doesn’t help her reach her true potential. Pam ending her abusive relationship is commendable, gaining confidence and emerging as the new Pam; who unapologetically expresses her true feelings. Though Jim is supportive, he is not the source of her passions. Those are her own as she ventures into art school making it work long distance and in the end starts a small mural business. Pam is subtle when breaking gender norms, changing tires despite men being present and addressing situations when unhappy and feeling diminished in later seasons. Essentially, Pam shows us that achieving your dreams doesn’t require you to be at the top. Goals and achievements are your own and we should not compare women against each other for not fitting an ideal of what inspiring is.
Lorelai Gilmore – Gilmore Girls
“One day, I decided that instead of being hurt and upset by your disapproval, I’m gonna be amused.”
She named her daughter after herself, traditionally done by father’s, how more iconic can you be? Despite coming from wealth, she broke the mould by being independent of her family’s money, except when it came to putting her child first. Lorelai is stubborn and empowered, yet admirably swallows her pride to offer Rory opportunities to achieve dreams of her own. Lorelai is a crash course in doing the unconventional. Becoming a teen mother and accepting those responsibilities, the constant relationship throughout the show is that between mother and daughter; no matter how many men come along, Rory is put first. What some may deem as over-emotional, I recognise as passion. She went back into education, obtaining a business degree, keeping that drive; eventually opening an inn of her own like she envisioned. Lorelai proves that as an iconic woman, the uncommon doesn’t always result in failure!