In the magical world known as ‘television’ it is generally accepted that, not only can a single woman be neither happy nor truly successful, the breadth of her unhappiness is also in direct proportion to that of her other achievements. The more beautiful, intelligent and educated the Sad Singleton woman of television is, the more desperately she will hoe into her triple choc fudge gallon of ice cream as she weeps over jewellery shopping channels while clutching the empty territory of her useless womb.
Of course, everyone with taste knows that the most interesting female characters to watch on TV are the ones who don’t spend every episode actively hating themselves. Here are five such badass dames of the small screen for you to fall in love with (if you haven’t already).
As Donna Meagle would say, “Treat yo’self!”
1. Donna from Parks and Recreation
Parks and Recreation's Donna Meagle (Retta) is without a doubt the bitchinest broad in all of Pawnee. She’s big, she’s beautiful and she can ‘geeeeet it’. In Season 4’s ‘Pawnee Rangers’, we learn that Donna and Tom (Aziz Ansari) enjoy an annual ‘Treat Yo Self’ fiesta where they buy whatever they want for an entire day just to celebrate the excellence that is them. Donna takes her possessions very seriously, a fact everyone learns when someone accidentally shoots out the window of her much loved Mercedes during a workplace hunting trip. It is very clear that Donna is never without the admiration and love of a swathe of swarthy hotties.
Best line: Oh, I love any book about vampires, werewolves, monsters, zombies, sorcerers, beasties or time-traveling romances. [Holds up a book of Twilight] And if I had an hour alone with Robert Pattinson, he would forget all about Skinnylegs McGee. I'll tell you that much.
2. Ilana from Broad City
Sometimes I get a little sad when I think about Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson, the creative duo behind the hysterical, rule-breaking Broad City. The show works because the two balance each other perfectly - Ilana’s the loose cannon, while Abbi’s more of the straight player dragged along in her wake. Unfortunately for Jacobson, the zaniness of Glazer’s character just makes it easier to love her more. Who can forget when she Skypes Abbi in the first episode while having casual sex with her sometimes-boo Lincoln (Hannibal Buress) because she just wants to be close to her?
Perhaps this is the trick. Despite her It Girlness and frenetic energy, Ilana dotes on Abbi. It’s rare that you’ll find a friend who’s willing to smuggle your actual shit out of the toilet during a blackout because you’re worried your next-door neighbour crush might find it - but Ilana does that for Abbi because she believes in the ancient wisdom that dictates one must put hoes before bros. She sleeps with whoever she wants whenever she wants and happily, but her greatest love with always be Abbi.
Best line: Everything she says.
3. Nessa from Gavin and Stacey
It is almost impossible to describe the love I have for Nessa (Ruth Jones, co-creator and writer of the hit series). She contradicts every cultural stereotype that’s fed to us about what makes a woman interesting, successful and attractive. She’s fat. She’s a chain smoker and aggressive drinker. She dresses like a Goth dominatrix. She’s foul mouthed. She’s older than 25, and probably older than 40. She has a past that includes affairs with the British Home Secretary, The Who’s Pete Townshend, Russell Brand, Mohamad Al-Fayed and two of Gladys Knight’s Pips. She tells of being a singer in the original line-up of All Saints, but had to leave because she didn’t get on with Shaznay. She has no time or patience for idiots, which is how she views pretty much everyone around her.
And yet, despite the series’ title, hers is the love story that really forms the heart of the show. She finds this unconventional love through the most conventional of ways, but never changes who she is to accommodate it. It’s also not clear whether it’s a love that will last forever, but the best thing about Nessa is that you know that it doesn’t matter - her life will go on being rich and full regardless.
Best line: “Oh! Oh! Oh! Wha’s occurin’?”
4. Elaine from Seinfeld
Long before Ricky Gervais revolutionised cringe comedy with The Office, there was Seinfeld. Deliberately stocked with unlikeable and selfish characters, the tidy foursome looked out for themselves and nobody else. And in amongst that was Elaine Benes (Julia Louis-Dreyfuss). She worked in publishing and lived alone, but never desperately. If anything, she expressed frequent disappointment that her dates weren’t good enough for her. She’s pro-choice and can’t keep a secret when she’s been drinking. And no one has ever looked more amazing in long floral skirts, socks and loafers and a prairie girl hairdo.
[When talking about a furniture removalist Elaine has fallen for.]
Jerry: What is his stand ... on abortion?
Elaine: Well...I’m sure he’s pro-choice.
Jerry: How do you know:
Elaine: Because ... well ... he’s just so good looking!
Who are your favourite independent ladies on the small screen?