I was glued to the television screen from very early on. I would come home from school and immediately plonk myself on the sofa until dinner; I didn’t have the patience for friends who weren’t as badass as Buffy the Vampire Slayer or as funny as I thought Will Smith was. If you’re interested (I took your continued reading as tacit consent), the best yo mama joke by the Fresh Prince was this: ‘Yo mama so fat, at school she sat next to eeeverybody!’ I only ever claimed it was the best.
Anyway, as it turns out a humanities degree doesn’t take up much time so my TV addiction has returned with a vengeance with the start of university. I thought I would use the decade or so I have spent watching the small screen to give a rundown of the women I most aspire to be. It goes without saying that the following contains a heck of a lot of spoilers:
5. Fran from Black Books:
If you’re going to die alone whilst coughing up your own small intestines you might as well do it with a glass of cheap wine in your hand and a limp fag (stop it now) dangling from your mouth! I love Black Books because the female third of the trio is no less funny or strong than Bernard or Manny. Fran saves the day on more than one occasion with a key role in the resolution to the crisis that has been created; including winning a poker game to save Bernard from his gambling debts and rescuing both Manny and Bernard from a gangster who threatened to cut off their thumbs. She goes on a lot of dates, but not in the body-clock-anxiety and general desperation way and when it’s with a gay man it is amusing as opposed to pathetic.
It may also be that she walks into rooms guffawing and/ or burping with reckless abandon and doesn’t hesitate to be resentful to her fellow man. The pressures on women to be polite, reserved and say things like ‘Such fun, Samantha!’ suggests to me that we can’t really enjoy ourselves. Women do not always want to be the appeasers and the ‘nurturers’, more often than not they are longing to be the drunkards dancing to Ace of Spades. Screw being ‘nice’, it’s much better to shout ‘YOU NINE-SIDED WHORE!’ at people.
4. CJ Cregg from The West Wing:
As the White House’s Chief of Staff, (spoiler, spoiler!) CJ sometimes gets to go into that cool secret room where the American government have giant screens of tanks, bombs and countries to invade. She can say ‘I want that tank there, blowing that person up who keyed my car!’ – why yes I am planning to pursue a career in politics. I’m not sure whether she has the nuclear code thingys to make the world go ‘ka-boom!’ but that would be super fun. It would be the ultimate trump card in arguments, ‘If you don’t do your washing up now I will… BLOW UP CHINA!’ Okay so that is probably all utter nonsense and I’m sure using nuclear bombs in arguments with spouses would be ‘unprofessional’ or ‘a breach of national security’.
More importantly, CJ faces decisions about sacrificing her personal life for her job; it is generally thought if not voiced that females need a relationship to be fulfilled. The high-powered lone-ranger careers that men can handle do not seem to extend to the ‘fairer sex’. She demonstrates that loved ones can leave you and come back but your career has to always be there because it is intrinsic to who you are. In the words of Lady Gaga, ‘Some women choose to follow men, and some women choose to follow their dreams. If you’re wondering which way to go, remember that your career will never wake up and tell you that it doesn’t love you anymore.’
3. Audrey Horne from Twin Peaks:
I am not sure whether I want to be or be with Audrey – perhaps a combination of the two. I hadn’t seen Twin Peaks (or any David Lynch) until a couple of months ago and it is unlike anything I had seen before. I’m not saying it’s weird but one of the main plotlines is people dancing to Jazz. Amongst the gradual descent into insanity that occurs, Audrey’s character is achingly human in her heart-on-sleeve romantic gestures. If there was a murder in my small town I would like to courageously help the investigation even though it put my personal safety at risk; she strikes me as a very intelligent, talented AND COMPLETELY GORGEOUS (*hehem*) young woman stuck in a boring dead-end town where she has to create her own excitement to compensate.
The culmination of this is Audrey handcuffing herself to a bank vault to help save the family business, like a beautiful hybrid of Ayn Rand and Miss Nell. I see her as a shining example of how feminists go and achieve equality not by reading about the difference between a Vulva and Vagina (seriously, who cares?) but by doing what they are passionate about as an individual regardless of the limits imposed upon them by others. There aren’t any ‘qualifications’ involved in being a feminist; you don’t have to know that Miss Nell was the suffragette who chained herself to railings of Number 10 in 1908. I didn’t know that until I just googled it a few seconds ago and I have a t-shirt saying ‘FEMINIST’! Not letting yourself or other women be restricted by other people’s ideas of what they should be (excluding not being murderers and theives) is all it takes.
2. Daisy Steiner from Spaced:
She’s so bored with regular jobs that she ends up telling any customers who ask for help ‘Oh. Fuck you!’ There is a pattern emerging in the women I admire having minimal levels of social etiquette. Spaced deserves kudos for the best name for a fictional women’s magazine ever: ‘Flaps’. In a job interview for the publication Daisy is asked if she is a post-feminist and she struggles to think of an answer, partly due to taking drugs and partly due to the term not really meaning anything. I have always tried to understand what post-feminism could possibly denote.
As far as I see it, feminism is concerned purely with individual choice and therefore the only other option is to be subject to coercion. I have garnered that post-feminism is doing all the things women have had to do since the 18th century but saying you do them because you want to. You need the apocalypse for the post-apocalypse just as you need feminism to truly happen for post-feminism not to be a load of pretentious wank. You heard it here first, feminism is indeed the apocalypse – at least radiation poisoning would be marginally less painful than bikini waxes.
1. Liz Lemon from 30 Rock:
I have not watched any single TV show more than 30 Rock over the past year. There were several weeks where I have believed myself to be living in New York as Liz Lemon, a perpetually overworked and hungry head writer at NBC. Let me tell you, it’s pretty disappointing to expect to see a hot dog cart and hear the hustle and bustle of NYC when you walk outside your door and what you actually see is 19 year old boys in low slung trousers and backwards baseball caps jumping up and down to Nickleback’s How You Remind Me. I’m a student.
This is what is most fantastic about Liz Lemon. Y’no in Bridesmaids (for god’s sake watch it!), when the group of women all get food poisoning and diarrhea? They look like they are sick, not attractive just like they have been vomiting. Tina Fey, perhaps because she is a comedian more than an actress, doesn’t seem to mind what she looks like on the show as long as it’s funny which is what makes Liz Lemon the person I want to be. Flawless people can never be comedians, they can be mocked or laughed at but performing jokes on a pedestal is impossible. If I had to choose I would be Liz Lemon so I could be goofy, actually look like I got four hours sleep and threaten to cut people when they take my food. Not wildly different to how I currently live my life.
Whatever the future brings I will be sure to remember this exchange from Drop Dead Gorgeous:
‘You’re a good person. Good things happen to good people.’
‘No. It’s pure bullshit sweetie. You’re lucky as hell so you might as well enjoy it.’