If there's anything besides a headache that Hollywood gave us this year, it’s plenty of phenomenal leading ladies on TV.
Anytime I needed a healthy dose of girl power all I had to do was grab my remote. Now, I admit that I love plenty of shows where the women are sassy sidekicks and devoted wives. But sometimes a girl like me needs more in the representation department. Sometimes (i.e. MOST of the time) I want to see leading ladies on-screen that are equal parts funny, smart, strong, and liable to kick ass.
Fortunately, a few ficitional ladies did all of this and more in 2017. From a fearless police detective, to a group of media mavens, to a single mom doing the damn thing, here are eight female TV characters that kept me smiling (and on my toes!) during 2017.
1. Charley Bordelon, Queen Sugar
Why I'm Obsessed: I admit that I was late to the Queen Sugar party, but once I got a taste of the sweetness I was hooked. Commanding my attention every episode was Charley, played by Dawn-Lyen Gardner. While every character brings something I love to the table, I can identify the most with her struggles — being the outcast in your family; dealing with the shade that comes with being the most “successful”; and having to put on a brave face each and every time your world crumbles because you can’t allow people to see you sweat. Charley effortlessly embodies a girl boss motivated by how much everyone (but particularly the men) underestimate her, and that’s something we can all be inspired by.
2. Kelli, Insecure
Why I'm Obsessed: The world of Insecure may revolve around Issa, but this season — once again — it was Kelli, played by the outstanding Natasha Rothwell, that stole the show. Her sassy one-liners and her commitment to being unapologetically Kelli never failed to make me laugh. Behind all the messy breakups, career mishaps, and Tiffany-planned parties over the last two seasons, Kelli consistently delivered as MVP of the L.A. group. She always provided some much-needed humor whenever Issa was reeling over Lawrence, Molly was struggling with dating, or Tiffany was going on and on about Derek. Plus she wasn't afraid to have a little under-the-table fun at a diner, even if her friend was sitting less than two feet away from her.
3. Ashe Akino, Shots Fired
Why I'm Obsessed: Who wouldn’t be inspired by a fearless, badass, street-savvy, woman of the law? The powerhouse played by Sanaa Lathan, was a hardworking single mom, who was not afraid to throw a vase "by" someone else's head if her parenting skills were questioned. She didn't back down from crooked cops no matter how much they threatened her. And while she did occasionally let her personal life get in the way of making sound decisions, in the end, Ashe came out on top and brought some much-needed justice to a fictional city plagued by police brutality. Now, if only we could get more detectives like her in the real world.
4. Gertrude Yorkes, Marvel's Runaways
Why I'm Obsessed: I’m super obsessed with this new Marvel series on Hulu, and standing out from the other Runaways is Gert played by Ariela Barer. I admit it was her purple hair, big glasses, and pin-adorned jean jacket that initially caught my eye. But what kept my attention was her quirky sarcasm and how she never fails to back down from an argument — especially when she knows she’s right. Additionally, I love that there’s a truly intersectional feminist present on TV today and that mental illness is being tackled through Gert's anxiety struggles.
5. Jane Villanueva, Jane The Virgin
Why I'm Obsessed: Much like with Queen Sugar, I was completely late to the JTV club. But after an assignment for Bustle came down the pipeline, I became hooked to the show. I went back and binged every night to catch up to the current season. Jane’s (Gina Rodriguez) anxiety is charming and how she pines over big decisions — and small ones — is super relatable to me. This season I loved seeing her find love again, hit the ground running with her book career and grow closer to her family. Now here’s to hoping she and Rafael finally get (back) together next season, and that there's a sequel to her soon-to-be best-selling book Snow Falling.
6-8. Jane, Kat And Sutton, The Bold Type
Why I'm Obsessed: Point blank if you want to know why I’m obsessed with these three media mavens just watch the first episode of The Bold Type. Seeing the unbreakable bond and the witty banter exchanged between these young professionals onscreen, had me reflecting on all of the good (and bad) days I've had as a magazine staffer. The complaining about shitty editors. The desire for a higher salary. The struggle to finish an assignment you didn't want in the first place. The quest to achieve work-life balance. Ah! Jane, Kat, and Sutton played by Katie Stevens, Aisha Dee, and Meghann Fahy, respectively, shine a much-needed millennial light on one of Hollywood's most fictionalized industries (ex: Ugly Betty, The Devil Wears Prada). In its upcoming second season I'd love to see more issues about race and intersectionality tackled, but as long as the show keeps giving fans a mostly realistic view of what it's like to climb the masthead, then I'll be tuning in.
What TV characters were you obsessed with this year? Let me hear in the comments!