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The Telegram
  • Stay Tuned: Best female TV characters of 2012

  • Women on reality TV are more often than not “mean girls,” whether they’re housewives, bachelorettes, bachelorette housewives (the “Real Housewives” franchise hasn’t been good to marriage), moms of kids who like to dance, brides being compared to Godzilla or mothers in-law who scream their way into the title of “monster in-law.”

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  • Women on reality TV are more often than not “mean girls,” whether they’re housewives, bachelorettes, bachelorette housewives (the “Real Housewives” franchise hasn’t been good to marriage), moms of kids who like to dance, brides being compared to Godzilla or mothers in-law who scream their way into the title of “monster in-law.”
    Over on the fictional side of television, women fare better. They are righteous lawyers, smart detectives, caring doctors and loving wives, mothers, friends and daughters.
    So to celebrate the many positive images of women on the small screen, this year’s “best of” column is all about TV ladies I love for all their imperfections, ambition, determination, humor, strength and style.
    5) Lori Grimes (Sarah Wayne Callies), “The Walking Dead”: Lori is a controversial choice but hear me out. Yes, she cheated on her husband and the child she is carrying may or may not be his. And yes, she seems to perpetually lose track of her teenage son. But she thought her husband was dead when she took up with his best friend and her son is finding his way into adulthood. Then there’s the small matter of fighting zombies while roaming the country while pregnant. Lori goes into labor in a dirty prison while being chased by the undead. When things go wrong, she allows herself the briefest moment to mourn before turning to her son and delivering the most heartfelt and heart-wrenching speech any mother could give her child.
    4) Lady Mary Crawley (Michelle Dockery), “Downton Abbey”: Lady Mary is not warm and cuddly. She is entitled, snobby and over-privileged, but she’s kind of allowed to be. Have you seen her house? She makes the list because she knows her mind and doesn’t settle for less than she deserves or compromise her beliefs despite being part of a class system where women are required to sacrifice their personal aspirations for the sake of tradition.
    3) Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington), “Scandal”: Olivia is a fixer in Washington, D.C. She doesn’t just swim with the sharks. She is the shark. She’s a fierce leader who inspires her staff, rights wrongs and conquers scandal with one mighty well-groomed blow. Okay, she’s involved in a shady presidential election conspiracy but you just know she did it for all the right reasons. Olivia cares deeply, loves her friends and loves the president even more. She’s not going to win points for being the other woman, but her passionate affair with the commander in chief reaches such sweeping romance novel proportions, you can’t help but root for her.
    2) Rayna James (Connie Britton), “Nashville”: Rayna is a successful country star who sees her career slipping away to a younger rival. Rather than being bitter, spiteful and out for revenge, Rayna is a strong, determined woman who bravely decides to re-invent herself. She stands up to her record company, her doubters, her harsh father and the needy men in her life without losing her charm or her dignity.
    Page 2 of 2 - 1) Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler), “Parks and Recreation”: While I love to hate a slimy political character (the female vice president currently usurping the oval office on “Scandal” comes to mind), the alternative is refreshing, particularly when it’s in the form of the eternally optimistic, sweet and funny Leslie Knope. A small-town politician who loves her community, does the right thing and proves that one person can make a difference, Leslie is TV’s answer to the corrupt public servant and someone you’d like to invite to dinner. She’d bring pie and passionately talk about public works and you’d like her even more.
    Melissa Crawley is the author of "Mr. Sorkin Goes to Washington: Shaping the President on Television's 'The West Wing.'" She has a Ph.D. in media studies and is a member of the Television Critics Association. To comment on Stay Tuned, email her at staytuned@outlook.com or follow her on Twitter at @MelissaCrawley.  

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