Every so often when mindlessly trying to find something to watch on TV, I get a visceral moment. Unwinding at the end of the day – I turn on my TV (or surf the net) and catch a glimpse of a character (or an episode of a series) that has an immediate effect on me.
Some of you may feel a tug on your heartstrings, nostalgia for a time long past, or even are quickly reminded of the person you were years ago. That's because many of these shows were instrumental in influencing us in our formative years. And for me, I found at the center of many of my favorite series, were iconic women
who permanently iron-branded a place in popular culture. So here's a look at six iconic female characters who did that with unforgettable style, attitude and grace.
Lisa Simpson, The Simpsons
A character as universally respected as Lisa Simpson is hard to find. Many of us grew up with The Simpsons
in our living room every week, and though the shenanigans of characters like Homer or Mr. Burns were always entertaining, it was Lisa that brought the laughs and heart to the show. A leader, activist, feminist, an avid reader and general all-around badass, Lisa Simpson was a constant reminder that smart = cool.
Pining to go down memory lane or get a little inspired look? Well, look no further than the episode when Lisa goes to Washington. Or when she takes on Malibu Stacy, or basically any Simpson episode in which Lisa stands up for her beliefs, friends, or family.
Moesha Mitchell, Moesha
It’s hard to believe that over twenty years ago the world first became familiar with the triple threat that is Brandy Norwood
. Brandy’s boundless talent and natural confidence were channeled through the titular character Moesha
, who was huge inspiration to its audience. And while the series featured great comedic writing and delivery, it also addressed serious issues like teen pregnancy, death, race and sexuality.
also had plenty of guest stars that went on to become huge names in the entertainment. Watch old episodes, and you’ll spy younger versions of celebs like Gabrielle Union
, Lil’ Kim
, Shemar Moore
, and Kobe Bryant
. Rewind to season three of Moesha
, and we are even introduced to a very young, pre-Confessions Usher
, who briefly played Moesha’s love interest Jeremy Davis.
Cher Horowitz and Dionne Davenport, Clueless
Before the Bechdel-Wallace test was popularized, socialites Cher and Dionne in Clueless
were chatting up a storm as they faced the trials and tribulations of young adulthood. Cher and Dionne, the small screen versions of the popular 1995 film, shared a fun if not completely frivolous world that we were invited to escape to every week. The show poked fun at the world of socialites, but amidst the escapism also allowed the characters room to grow. They were the mean girls before Mean Girls
. While it's true that their particular lifestyle was one most people could never relate to, their friendship, outrageous sense of style, and fierceness was wildly entertaining and totally admirable.
Buffy Summers, Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Are there any TV characters who come close to Buffy’s badassery? When the vampire slayer came on the scene in the nineties, she made her way to our hearts with her dry sense of humor, inclination to protect the underdog, and fierce loyalty. Buffy, also based on a movie, was many things at once: a fashionista who is a fierce demon-killer, a nerd with a comedic flair, a former cheerleader who forgoes popularity and stays true to herself. But most of all, she was a fiercely individual character who exemplified how strength can be coupled with vulnerability.
Mindy Lahiri, The Mindy Project
Though The Mindy Project
has only been on the air for four years, it has already gained a serious following and iconic status. The series stars the spunky Mindy Kaling as the sole female fertility expert who is building her own road to success in a small medical practice. Mindy is opinionated, caring, selfish, thoughtful, fearless and at times uncertain – a full and layered woman with contradictions and real flaws. On top of it all, she brings the laughs and heart to every episode.
Do these shows and characters take you down memory lane? Which TV characters had the biggest impact on you? We’d love to hear from you -- share your favorite TV icons and shows in the comments section below!