In an age of binge-watching, fast media and a desire to watch/read/listen to as much as possible, it can feel like cultural overload. I constantly feel like I am not doing enough to consume, with big gaping holes in my pop-cultural knowledge.
Despite feeling overwhelmed, I took a step back to appreciate the impact TV has on my life. TV has the magnificent power to offer an escapism, to allow you to become engrossed in gritty storylines or light-hearted drama. It has the power to influence cultural events and the representation of society as well as open up peoples minds. It also has characters who have the power to shape who you are as a person. So here are three TV icons, who have done exactly that.
Olivia Benson, in short, is my absolute hero. For those not in the know, Olivia Benson is from Law and Order SVU a crime show based in New York that focuses on victims of sexually based offences. It has been a show that I have grown up with since an early teenager, and one that inspired my decision to take Law as an A Level (not at university though cause damn Law is hard).
In it, Olivia plays a detective working for the NYPD, who moves up the ranks to Sergeant and now Lieutenant. The golden years of SVU were when Olivia was partnered with Elliot Stabler (who I fancied a little bit, lord knows why!?), but the show is still great with Olivia in charge of the whole department.
Olivia is the ultimate goals. A total badass, she will destroy any perpetrator, with a fearless tenacity. She works tirelessly, is loyal to her colleagues and is determined the get the job done and get justice for the victims. Yet, despite being an absolute ass-kicking, strong and powerful woman, she has this unbeatable kindness and compassion that you so so rarely paired with a strong female lead. She really fights for her victims, and always believes them, no matter how unreliable they may seem. Not only that, but she’s complex, struggling with post-traumatic stress and she sheds light on what it is like to be a powerful working woman and a mother as well.
When I grow up (despite being 23, I do not feel like I am grown up), I hope to have just *some* of the ass-kicking qualities of Olivia Benson.
Greys Anatomy is something I haven’t grown up with, only watching it in the past three years, but it is mine and Davids show for a number of reasons. One of which being the shows lead, Meredith Grey.
Meredith’s character has been through an incredible amount of shit; her mother died of Alzheimer’s, her best friend died by being hit by a bus, she stuck her hand on a bomb, she drowned, she watched Derek get shot, she was in a plane crash to which her sister died and then to top it off the love of her life, McDreamy died.
Wow, when I write it all out it sounds crazy. GOD SHONDA GIVE THIS WOMAN A BREAK.
Therefore, she is the grittiest character on TV who is unafraid to face her demons. She doesn’t let a man define her, and will not sacrifice her own happiness for Derek’s (like when he wanted to move to Washington, but she wanted to stay in Seattle). She knows her worth as a surgeon and is unashamed to shout about it. Due to everything she has been through, her empathy for others pain is genuine and she will always take people as to how she knows them, not letting anyone influence her own mind. She will stand up for what is right, despite the consequences and she will dance it out with you if you’ve had a rough day.
Meredith Grey is the friend you need in your corner, and she has taught woman all over the world how to own your achievements without being apologetic.
It has not been until I have recently rewatched the entire series of Friends that I have realised how amazing Pheobe is. Growing up, I always was referred to as Monica; loud, bossy and a clean freak. I can certainly relate the most to Monica, but in my mind, Pheobe is the character we can learn from the most.
Out of everyone, she is the biggest cheerleader, always the first to be happy for anyone of the gang’s good news or successes, even if questionable (she liked Ross’s keyboard AND bagpipe playing), and she is extremely loyal (she tells Rachel when Paulo makes a pass at her). She consistently supports whatever decisions the rest make, will take the light off of anyone else’s vulnerability (remember when she took the fall for Rachels pregnancy? Or told Chandler she would get even more drunk, to hide how drunk Monica was?). And she never doubts what anyone tells her, even when others would be critical.
Not only that, but she is extremely open minded as well as headstrong (she thought her dead mother was a cat and her theories on the world always come under scrutiny), has a big heart (she went to stop Earl from committing suicide) doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her (like the way she runs), and is always looking to improve herself (taking classes at school). Out of everyone, Pheobe is the Friends character that deserves the most recognition for teaching a generation of women to be open-minded, independent, self-confident and to be a better friend.
Oh, and she had her brothers triplets for god sake. She’s clearly the best.