characters, favorites, heroines, Life Talk, TV, Watch

Television Heroines

As promised, the companion post to my piece on favorite tv heroes. This time, it’s all about the ladies! Without further ado, I present my top five favorite tv heroines.

Lorelai Gilmore, Gilmore Girls: Oddly enough, I never really liked Rory on this show. You’d think I would, right? Quiet, bookish, ambitions of writing … yet I always felt like she came across as this spoiled, pampered little princess who assumed everything would go her way and couldn’t handle it when life got a bit difficult. Lorelai, on the other hand, is the kind of mom I can only dream about being. She’s fun and loving and kind and savvy and present (not just physically, but wholly); she’s not perfect but she never quits trying; she has a life of her own but still always puts her kid first. And she has great hair and a razor-sharp wit. Yep, pretty awesome.

Zoe Washburne, Firefly: I love Zoe. I want to be Zoe when I grow up. She is a rarity in television, an action heroine who is also happily married. Her combination of deadly combat skills, fierce loyalty, dry wit, and loving fidelity is amazing. Plus she gets awesome one-liners. My mom likes River the best, and I know a lot of people really love Kaylee (and don’t get me wrong, I like both of them, too – I think Kaylee would make a terrific best friend), but for me, it’s all about Zoe. She’s strong and still human, and that’s hard to find in any kind of heroine these days, television or literary; most are either all strength and no human emotions, or all vulnerability and weakness with a side helping of unrealistic warrior skills. Not Zoe. I also really love the fact that she’s a sci-fi action heroine who does not spend the entirety of the show running around half-dressed. And she’s a really, really good shot.
Captain Kathryn Janeway, Star Trek: Voyager: I know I complained in my heroes post about the fact that Voyager focused almost solely on Captain Janeway … but that doesn’t take away from the fact that she’s still a fantastic character. A female starship captain who never exhibits any signs of belligerence or insecurity toward the men under her command, or the other officers in Starfleet; a leader thrown with a totally unconventional crew across the galaxy, trying to get them home without ever going against her principles; a captain trying to maintain protocol with the crew while still providing them with the stability and comfort they need; an explorer faced with unprecedented challenges … as long as she had her coffee, Janeway took everything in her stride and faced it with humor and dignity.
Detective Kate Beckett, Castle: I only recently started watching Castle, and so far have only made it through Season 1. Season 2 should be coming to me through inter-library loan any day now. (edit: just picked it up from the library. can’t wait to start watching.) So I’m not sure how Beckett’s character developed in later seasons, but based on Season 1, I think she’s fabulous. She’s tough but compassionate, which I love in any character, male or female. She doesn’t take any nonsense from anyone. I love watching her get the best of Castle in any of their exchanges, and the developing friendship (which I know from things I’ve read turns to romance later, but is really great as a friendship, too) between them is so much fun to watch.
Donna Noble, Doctor Who: This one is kind of cheating. Donna’s not technically one of the stars of this show, more of a supporting character (and that only for one season, weep, weep) … but I love her so much that I don’t care. I really liked Rose; I would have liked Martha if she hadn’t let her inferiority complex turn her into such a drip; I loved Sarah Jane in the one episode of the new series (no, I haven’t watched any of the classic series, and Netflix doesn’t have The Sarah Jane Adventures, so I need to start borrowing those from the library too before I can know more about her); but Donna has turned out to be my favorite so far (I’m in the middle of Series 4). She’s the perfect foil for the Doctor, in her humor and compassion and strength. She’s not in love with him (thank goodness!) but their friendship is so, so strong, and they both grow and gain so much from the other. I even love her abrasiveness, the fact that she doesn’t take any crap from anyone. Her relationship with her grandfather is just icing on the cake. I know how her story arc ends (yes, I read spoilers, especially when I’m watching old seasons of a show), and I’m finding myself really reluctant to finish watching Series 4, because I don’t want to leave her behind. Well, I don’t really want to say goodbye to the Tenth Doctor, either, if I’m being perfectly honest.

It seems that my favorite female characters share the same traits I admire most in male characters – strength blended with compassion, the ability to stand up for themselves and for others, loyalty, a ready wit, and a thorough love for adventure. Being ready and willing to take out the bad guy doesn’t hurt, either.
characters, heroes, Life Talk, TV, Watch

Television Heroes

I’ve done a list of my favorite literary heroes, but never of favorite tv heroes. Silly me! Lately I’ve been looking at the rather disparate list of characters I love on tv, and trying to figure out what it is about them that draws me – whether there is one common theme, or if I like each for completely different reasons. So then, naturally, I decided to blog about it.

Here, then, is my list of top five television heroes, with one thrown in as a bonus at the end.

Chakotay (Star Trek: Voyager):  Carl and I recently started re-watching the Voyager series (re-watching for me, first time for him – true love!), and I was astounded to discover that it was nowhere near as awesome as I remembered from when I was watching it as a teenager. I mean, the basis is awesome, and the acting is brilliant, but the writing, oh the writing. It’s pretty much “The Janeway Show,” and none of the other characters really get much development until Seven-of-Nine shows up. Then it’s the “Janeway and Seven Show.” And that sucks, because really, it could have been so amazing. And Chakotay was one of the most amazing characters on it. A basically kind, gentle man with enormous compassion and such strong ethics, forced by his principles into a life of violence. So much conflict in him, and clashing loyalties, and his rarely-seen but wickedly delightful sense of humor … yeah, even after all these years, and even with the major issues I now see with Voyager, Chakotay is still one of my all time favorite television heroes.

Leroy Jethro Gibbs (NCIS): Ah, Gibbs. I knew I loved him from the moment I heard his preferred method of dealing with politicians was to shoot them (actually, that’s his preferred method of dealing with most people, come to think of it). Taciturn, rude, terrible people skills … Gibbs still manages to win the hearts and loyalty of those who work with him. Probably because along with all those negative traits, he’s also fiercely loyal to his people, protective, deeply loving, and almost always right. The NCIS team really is like one big family, and Gibbs is unquestionably the father-figure to them all (well, aside from Ducky, who is most definitely the eccentric great-uncle of the clan). If I were ever in mortal danger, it’s Special Agent Gibbs I’d want protecting me.
Malcolm Reynolds (Firefly): I hate to admit that I was kind of on the fence regarding Mal at first. It wasn’t until the end of the episode “Safe” that I made up my mind on him. When Simon was asking him why Mal came back for Simon and River, Mal says “You’re my crew.” “Yeah, but you don’t even like me,” Simon pointed out. “You’re my crew,” Mal said blankly. “Why are we still talking about this?” And that’s when I fell irrevocably in love (not really, Carl). I love Mal’s stubborn loyalty, the fact that he will do anything at all to protect his people, whether he likes them or not. The fact that he never, ever gives up, even when he is utterly beaten just adds to his endearing qualities. As someone whose stubbornness goes far beyond reasonable limits (be quiet, Carl), I like seeing that portrayed as a good quality in fictional characters.
Carson Beckett (Stargate: Atlantis): It is entirely possible that much of my fondness for Carson is influenced by his adorable Scottish accent, along with his habit of calling people “son” or “love” or even “wee man” (that last one delivered with killing sarcasm). Mostly why I like him, though, is for his Everyman qualities. In a company made up of scientists, military persons, and administrators, Carson is the one normal guy (though a perfectly brilliant MD in his own right), the one who genuinely cares for everyone, who treats each person as an important individual, who is never too busy with his own tasks to take the time out for others. He’s perfectly sweet, and did I mention the Scottish accent?
The Tenth Doctor (Doctor Who): The Ninth Doctor was my first introduction to the show. I’m still tremendously fond of him, but oh, the Tenth Doctor. That unique blend of remarkable kindness and ruthlessness, compassion and cold-bloodedness … not to mention his delightful sense of humor, his zest for life. His occasional rudeness, usually followed by sheepishness at having been rude adds to his charm. And his loneliness just breaks my heart. Weep, weep! If Gibbs is the person I most want to have my back if I’m in danger, the Tenth Doctor is the one I think would be the most fun to have around when I’m in peril. Even if he caused much of that peril to begin with.
And the promised bonus: Sherlock Holmes, my dream husband.

I expected to like Watson best in the latest BBC adaptation of Sherlock. On the surface, I do like him best. Sherlock is an egotistical maniac, cold-hearted and quite thoroughly amoral, self-described as a “high-functioning sociopath.”

And yet … it was Sherlock that I dreamed was my husband (literally – I dreamed Carl and Sherlock were the same person). It was quite a friendly dream, actually – Sherlock/Carl, John Watson and myself, solving a mystery together, the two of them totally in character, nothing racy or anything I’d be embarrassed to have my mother read on this blog. Sherlock/Carl and I just happened to be quite happily married, as well. And somehow, every time I watch the show, I find myself more drawn to him. No idea why. I’ve quit trying to analyze that one.

“John, stop chattering on this phone – the game’s afoot!”

So, in looking over this list, describing the characters, I am indeed seeing a pattern. Ruthlessness when necessary, compassion and kindness, fierce loyalty and protectiveness toward “their” people, and a wry sense of humor. Not exactly the dashing, noble hero of traditional fiction, nor even the typical anti-hero such as Han Solo or Jack Sparrow … but it works for me. And also explains a lot of the hero-characters I find myself writing!

Who are some of your favorite tv heroes, and why?

Disclaimer: I really don’t watch a whole lot of tv. So I’m sure there are some fabulous characters out there that I just haven’t discovered. If I left your favorites off, it’s not necessarily because I don’t like them! 

Disclaimer #2: I know there aren’t any female characters on here. I’m going to do a post later on with favorite tv female characters. I’m not sure why I separated them, except that maybe that helps me squeeze two posts out of this topic instead of one? Or maybe that it’s so much harder to find strong female leads on tv (which is a post in and of itself, but not one that I think I’m fit to tackle), so it’s going to take me a bit longer to figure out five that I really love as much as I love the five mentioned here. But I’ll get there eventually!