I’m often frustrated with the television characters on shows aimed at adolescents and teenagers – Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars, the Kardashians et al – that focus heavily, if not predominantly, on the (highly unattainable) physical female appearance.
It caused me to reminisce about one of my favorite shows, Gilmore Girls, which ran from 2000-2007.  The brainchild of Amy Sherman-Palladino (hooray for female writers!), a single mother and her daughter lived more as best friends than as parent and child.   The witty, head-spinningly fast dialogue, the quirky small-town charm, and the back-and-forth romance between Luke and Lorealai were all reasons why I loved the show.  It wasn’t until recently that it struck me – all of the female characters were strong, interesting, and three-dimensional.   Perhaps that contributed to my love for this series!
Lorelai, the anchor of the show, left behind a world of white gloves and country clubs to raise a baby on her own as a teenager.  She knew the life of privilege wouldn’t fulfill her and set about to create her own happiness.  This included working her way up the ladder from inn maid to inn manager.   It didn’t happen overnight.  She paid and worked her way through community college and business school, all while working, raising a child, and living modestly.  Lorelai struggled with committing to romantic relationships and putting her own needs first, but she always committed to doing everything possible to give Rory a good life – not just materially, but through a relationship where Rory felt loved and accepted.
The beloved daughter of the series, Rory’s nose was always in a book.  Her athleticism and social prowess weren’t much to brag about, but she focused on her schoolwork, getting into Harvard, and honing her journalism skills to be the next Christiane Amanpour.  Rory’s romances were realistic for a 16 year-old – awkward first kisses, stodgy school dances, and handmade bracelets for Valentine’s Day; not the swanky clubs teens occupy on TV today.  Even though she eventually ditched her loyal first love for the bad boy in town, it wasn’t just for the thrill of danger.  She shared the same love of literature and music with him, and their conversations were substantive.  Perhaps what I loved most about Rory was that, unlike Joey Potter of Dawson’s Creek, Rory always had a best girl friend.   They shared a true sisterhood – no scheming to steal the other’s boyfriend or trying to one-up her prom dress – just true and dependable friendship that would see them through the tough times and happy moments.
True, Lorelai and Rory ate way too much junk food and exercised far too little to maintain their trim figures, but it’s an excusable flaw in an otherwise stellar series.
Light-hearted and goofy, Sookie served as a steady confidante for Lorelai, but had more dimension than traditional supporting female characters.  She had skills in her own right, namely as a top-notch chef and co-owner of the inn.  The show portrayed some of Sookie’s struggles as a working mother and how important a compassionate and involved husband can be when it comes to parenting.  Oh, and did I mention she was plus-sized?
Lane was Rory’s long-time best friend.  The daughter of a strict, Seventh Day Adventist Korean woman, Lane secretly rebelled from the strict rules by learning the drums and joining a rock band.  She frequently rattled off musical influences like the Smiths, the White Stripes, the Ramones, and bands I’ve never heard of.  In order to pursue her dreams with the band, she held the unglamorous job of diner waitress.   She and Rory, with a few ups and downs, remained strong friends.
And that doesn’t even cover Emily, Paris, and Miss Patty!  One can only hope we will continue to see female characters featured in teen dramas that are as diverse and interesting as this crowd.
Who are your favorite female TV characters?