In honor of Women’s Equality Day, we’ve rounded up ladies who empower us on the small screen.
Women are ???? killing ???? it ???? in the real world, and it’s reflected on television. Now that powerful women in Hollywood like Shonda Rhimes and Jenji Kohan are running the show behind-the-scenes, we’re getting a slew of badass women who also serve as everyday role models.
Long gone are the days where women only play wives, mothers and hot secretaries on screen. It’s 2016, and Taylor Swift has two cats named after her favorite female TV heroines. Women are figuring out the key to the “Upside Down” universe in “Stranger Things,” nabbing political power in “Scandal” and leading an escape plan through the Underground Railroad in “Underground.” Each time we watch these ladies stand their ground on TV, it inspires us to live our lives with grit, courage and confidence. These women are emotionally-strong, complex and come from all different backgrounds and walks of life, which makes them relatable and awesome.
In no particular order, here are the women on TV right now that are slaying the game.
1. Rosalee, “Underground”
When we were first introduced to Rosalee (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) in WGN America’s period drama surrounding the events of the Underground Railroad, she comes off as timid and sheltered. As the series progresses, her strength is tested and she becomes a leader amongst the other slaves, risking her own life for their safety.
2. Olivia Pope, “Scandal”
This woman is always a badass when it comes to politics, sexuality or power. Olivia (Kerry Washington) is a high-powered political decision maker who is a strong leader in Washington. She is also complicated, flawed and sometimes emotionally unavailable, but she’s always able to pull through and stay strong no matter what scandal comes her way.
3. Joyce Byers, “Stranger Things”
Driven and self-willed, nothing will get in the way of Joyce’s (Winona Ryder) mission to find her missing son, Will. Despite everyone in town (and even her own family at times) telling her she’s crazy for thinking he’s in the walls, her unconditional love for Will makes her willing to do anything—even knock down the walls of her own home to find him.
4. G’Winveer, “Outsiders”
G’winveer (Gillian Alexy) is the healer in the Farrell clan who live in a mountain community governed by their own rules. Between the political power struggle the clan faces along with the rise of a new King and her complicated love story, G’Winveer is headstrong, gritty and always knows how to speak her mind.
5. Arya Stark, “Game of Thrones”
The youngest of the Stark daughters, Arya (Maisie Williams) is savage AF—especially when she seeks vengeance. She battles gender norms from the beginning, taking an interest in swordsmanship over sewing, and as a result, her battle and survival skills are top notch. Sure, she’s killed a lot, but she’s making it on her own and is one of the baddest on the show.
6. The Countess, “American Horror Story: Hotel”
Glamorous, empowered and deadly are three words to sum up The Countess (Lady Gaga). Along with her lavish sense of style—including her very sharp chain mail glove that she occasionally uses to slice people’s throats—the Countess is cultured and highly powerful. Feeding on blood (oftentimes during sex), she’s extremely territorial over what is hers and will go to great lengths to get her way.
7. Annalise Keating, “How to Get Away with Murder”
Annalise’s (Viola Davis) tough exterior is often mistaken for being heartless, but she’s incredibly driven and goes to great measures to protect the ones she loves (sometimes breaking a law or two). She’s also a real human being with struggles and insecurities, but hard work keeps her constantly on her feet and winning trial after trial. Even though people question her decision-making, her loyalty to the Keating 5—especially Wes—shows that she puts people she cares about first.
8. Kimmy Schmidt, “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”
Kimmy (Ellie Kemper) may have a disgustingly horrifying past as a Mole Woman, but she chooses to focus on being positive and rebuild her life post-tragedy. Her confidence and charisma inspire everyone around her to go after what they want and achieve their goals. Between her awkward flirting, impromptu mantras and taking everything 10 seconds at a time, Kimmy is 100% her own and nothing can get in the way of her over-exuberance.
9. Anne Hale, “Salem”
Though people may expect her to behave a certain way as she is the daughter of the powerful Magistrate Hale, Anne (Tamzin Merchan) is a fearless witch who is strong-willed and constantly testing boundaries. She doesn’t play by the town’s rules which makes her a bit of a rebel, but deep down she is very caring and empathetic.
10. Poussey Washington, “Orange Is the New Black”
Poussey’s (Samira Wiley) tragic twist of fate at the end of season 4 was unfortunately a sad way to say goodbye to one of the strongest female characters on the show. She was one of the only inmates looking ahead towards life after prison and she always kept peace, love and harmony amongst her group of friends. During her last episode, in what was a flashback/dream sequence, Poussey got to enjoy freedom and even seemed to reach heaven. RIP, girl. You are already dearly missed.
11. Jane Villanueva, “Jane the Virgin”
For someone who was artificially inseminated, Jane (Gina Rodriguez) handled the whole thing like a champ. Even though she had two men trying to win over her affections, she always followed her heart and did what was best for herself and her son, Matteo. She also went to school while raising her son. Even though she got judge-y looks from people, she just powered forward and kept doing her thing.
12. Rachel Goldberg, “UnReal”
With a troubled past like Rachel’s (Shiri Appleby), her unemotional and apathetic nature totally makes sense. She’s definitely not all good—this is the girl who poisoned someone on live television so they shit themselves in a white dress—but she’s good at doing what she does and will never apologize for being a rockstar at making good television. For anyone lucky to get close to her (Quinn), they eventually see what a caring person she really is.
13. Dr. Mindy Lahiri, “The Mindy Project”
Mindy may live in her head and have her imperfections, but she’s a total go-getter in all aspects of her life, whether it’s opening her own OB-GYN office, or pursuing a relationship with Danny. She’s brutally honest and truthful with herself and others and has an impeccable sense of style in the form of colorful coats and dresses. Seriously, she makes for the coolest OB-GYN and nothing is off limits.