Women On Telly

Remember when we were younger and a show’s leading lady was funny, intelligent, relatively good looking and a normal size?  No, me neither – I wasn’t born then.  So that’s why when I was growing up, my Mom insisted that I watch the trials and tribulations of “smart” women.  (You know, the opposite of Heidi Montag and what reality TV has taught us is socially acceptable.)  So in celebration of these aforementioned starlets, I’ve assembled the ultimate list: women of television we’re not afraid to love (and because most of television today is awful, most are 20th century shout-outs).

WORDS: Anne Donahue

Tina Fey

When I say “night cheese” and “lady blazer”, you say Liz Lemon and “I want to go to there”.  Not only was she the first female lead writer of the previously male-dominated Saturday Night Live, but Tina Fey has made it cool to be normal (and nerdy) again.  Now, instead of insisting my tendency to eat M&Ms for breakfast and to dress similarly to my male best friend (which only happened once – and in my defence, oversize denim shirts are technically “in”) is normal, I can simply quote Tina and move on with my life.  After all, she’s justified the fact that being able to quote Star Wars in its entire is pretty badass – and I no longer need to hide who I really am.


Bea Arthur


Few people can deliver the perfect insult like Bea Arthur, and if you’re confused as to what I’m referring to, please consult her roast of Pamela Anderson immediately.  Star of Maude, The Golden Girls and of our hearts (aww), Bea brought sarcasm and drollness to a new level, teaching all of us that as long as you’re no-bullshit and to the point, regardless of what you say, people will love you.  (Right?  . . . Right?!)  I may have been considered a little young for Maude (after all, I was raised in a Catholic household), but when I could, I would soak up the wonder of Dorthy Zbornak and attempt to apply her wit and nonchalance to my everyday life.  The only downside?  Evidently, in grade three, eight-year-olds aren’t quick to respond to monotone-esque one-liners.

Lucille Ball

When I’d go to my grandparents’ when I was young, we’d spend lunchtime watching reruns and The Price is Right.  And while I hated Mrs. Cleaver of Leave It to Beaver (apparently my dislike for domesticity and the white picket fence began as a child), I loved everything about Lucille Ball and her ability to make the simplest task the most hilarious and disastrous – as well her uncanny ability to laugh at herself.  (Enter: the beauty of self-deprecation.)  Forget the fact that Ricky was a buzzkill and that his show was terrible (frankly, she could do better), Lucy and Ethel were the ultimate partners in crime and brought the concept of sisterhood a whole new meaning.  Blair and Serena could learn a thing or two.

Mary Tyler Moore


Whenever I have work-related meltdowns and moments of “where did all the ‘gentlemen’ go?” I take to The Mary Tyler Moore Show, curl up and promise myself “I’m going to make it after all”.  (And depending on the day, I run out to the street and toss my hat into the air – unless the street’s populated, and in that case I only do it mentally).  Strong, independent, career savvy and a total babe, MTM may have been battling alcoholism during the filming of her iconic series, but she taught the masses a thing or two about their pre-conceived notions on gender roles during the sexual revolution.  It may be 2010, but I still think we could take a page out of the book of Mary.  (Why?  Because after the atrocity that was Sex and the City 2 women still idolize Carrie Bradshaw.)

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