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THE FEMALE CHARACTERS ON TV

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Many of the television series that I watch seem to have strong female leads – The Good Wife, Scandal, Law & Order SVU,House of Cards, Orange is the New Black.  However, I often question if these female characters that I watch week to week actually portray the idealic strong,  independent woman that I want to see (or at least hope to be seen by younger women and girls).  For instance,  Kerry Washington’s character Olivia Pope was originally portrayed as this dynamic,  unstoppable force in Washington,  D.C. who was so revered (and feared) that she help any political player slither out of the most scandalous situations.  But now, Olivia’s greatest claim is that she’s loved by the President; this status has simply defined her character for the last one-and-a-half seasons.  The Good Wife has done a great job of portraying Julianna Margulies as a partner in a law firm, candidate for States Attorney, and caring mother. Yet, the title says it all and remains the underlying premise of the show – her choice to stay married to her cheating husband.  First she stayed because of her marriage vows; next she remained in the marriage to help her husband get elected governor; and now she’s keeping up appearances as the doting wife to her philandering husband to help achieve her own political aspirations. Clearly, these powerful female characters are being defined by their relationships with their super-powerful male counterparts.  Maybe these female characters feel empowered (or comforted) by their proximity to ever powerful men. Maybe it’s an insecurity that forces a strong successful female character to be intertwined with a man perceived to be stronger and more successful.  Maybe the audience could be given some credit that every leading female role does not have to depict complete reliance and definition upon a male counterpart. Maybe we’d actually be given that chance if there weren’t so many Housewives and Kardashiansfilling up programming time. At least I’m excited for the upcoming final season of Mad Men.  I guess there’s comfort in knowing that it’s ok to have lower expectations for the female characters on Madison Ave…except Peggy,  she doesn’t get a pass.

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