Searching the web the other day, I came across this interesting article about the lack of strong female leads in popular TV series of today. In the article the author, Daniel Bettridge, makes an argument that shows such as Gossip Girl and 90210 feature female leads that are “little more than expensive clothes horses.” He claims that their male counterparts define these female characters. The shows center around who’s doing what and who’s seeing who rather than an interesting, female empowering storyline. Bettridge questions where shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Veronica Mars have gone. Shows that instead feature, according to him, petty, vein, and overall pathetic women have replaced shows that included leading female superheroines.
I agree with Bettridge’s argument, but I think that he is too fast to dismiss the female characters of such shows as weak. Sure, Gossip Girl centers around Blair Waldorf, a spoiled Upper East Side princess, and her numerous love interests, but it also shows Blair as an independent, powerful (in that she can manipulate anyone and basically always gets her way), and intelligent woman. She goes to Columbia with her best friend, Serena, and gets a competitive internship. Her mother owns her own fashion company. Another character in the show, Jenny Humphrey, proves her talent as a designer before she even graduates high school. Although the females in this show are born with countless privileges, they also work hard to succeed and be independent, proving that they, too, are strong female characters. They may not have Wonder Woman’s superpowers or Buffy’s ass-kicking mentality, but they are certainly viable representations of a strong, modern-day woman trying to succeed in the real world.
Here is a link to the article: http://tv.uk.msn.com/features/articles.aspx?cp-documentid=149727902
It was written in 2009, so it is a little outdated, but I still think that Bettridge overlooked some of the strength that can be seen in leading female characters today. Also, many new shows, such as The Vampire Diaries, center on strong female characters that are honorable, independent, and fierce. It is unquestionable that there has yet to be a show that features a character as powerful as Buffy, but I think that Bettridge didn’t give enough credit to the leading ladies of today’s shows.