It’s hard to find strong female characters in television and film these days. Since fully awesome feminist roles are hard to come by, sometimes we just have to take what we can get. Check out these strong female characters who will totally make you say, “Yeah, that’s something I guess!”
1. Clarice Starling, Silence of the Lambs
Clarice Starling, a star student at the FBI Academy, is one of the most awesome female protagonists in the history of film. She takes part in an investigation of a serial killer known as Buffalo Bill, and her job involves coaxing information about Buffalo Bill out of the brilliant but cannibalistic ex-psychiatrist Hannibal Lecter. If you love watching badass women outsmart all the men around them (well, except for Hannibal Lecter, who still outsmarts everyone in the movie, including her) and you don’t mind watching your heroine have semen tossed into her face by a male prisoner, then you’ll love this role. Clarice’s character will totally make you say, “Despite that guy telling her he could ‘smell her cunt’, this depiction of women was definitely a step in the right direction!”
2. Andy Sachs, The Devil Wears Prada
Andy is a journalist in New York City with a passion for writing and an unbeatable work ethic who finds a job as second assistant to Miranda Priestly, the editor-in-chief of Runway magazine. The job is nearly impossible, and Andy is under unreasonable pressure to sacrifice her personal life and sanity to keep the job in hopes that it will be a stepping-stone to more fulfilling journalistic work. Andy totally triumphs in the end, proving everyone who thought she’d fail wrong by climbing the ladder of success, becoming the best assistant Miranda has ever had. Although her rise to glory involved silencing her boss’s fat-shaming insults by losing a dress size, being drunkenly seduced by a skeezy, high-powered writer with a blonde Jheri curl, and ultimately following her boyfriend and his new job to another city, you’ll still be cheering Andy on in her relatively palatable female empowerment! WERK(ish)!
3. Zoe Barnes, House of Cards
Zoe Barnes, a political reporter for the Washington Herald, is eager to move up from the low-profile stories she has been stuck writing for the paper. In an attempt to sniff out some juicier journalistic opportunities to uncover political drama on Capitol Hill, Zoe strikes up a relationship with Frank Underwood, the House Majority Whip. Underwood regularly leaks inside information to Zoe in exchange for journalistic and sexual favors. Zoe takes a lot of heat for her perceived irreverance toward her superiors and her rogue journalistic style, but she doesn’t take shit from anyone (except Frank Underwood)! She’ll have you yelling “YES GIRL, YOU SHOW ‘EM” right up until she gets thrown in front of a subway train by the show’s leading male character for asking too many goddamn questions about his involvement with the death of another character. Though Zoe is violently polished off by a dude after only one season, and then we’re made to watch some other dudes rewind and fast-foward the security tape of her head exploding in front of the subway car, her character will make you go, “Yeah, that was a pretty awesome, albeit short-lived, display of a woman taking charge!”
4. Jan Levenson, The Office
Jan is just “boss” in every sense of the word. She kicks ass and takes names! As the direct superior of Michael Scott, Jan certainly doesn’t have the easiest job in the world. She deals with misogynistic jokes, men constantly undermining her authority, and Michael spreading information about their sexual history around to everyone in the office on a daily basis. But this fierce woman handles herself with a poise and professionalism that puts her male coworkers to SHAME! As the only female character who consistently calls Michael out on his misogyny, Jan will have you throwing up your hands and yelling “YAAASSS QUEEN” at least until roughly halfway through season two, at which point she becomes a raving lunatic. Though the show ultimately undermines her character’s credibility by making her batshit crazy after about a season and a half, her no-nonsense attitude towards her disrespectful and sexist employees and coworkers will make you say, “OMG what a badass, at least at first!”
5. Elle Woods, Legally Blonde
Elle is everyone’s favorite chick flick feminist! Sorority-sister-turned-lawyer, Elle destroys the “dumb blonde” stereotype by helping win a major murder case and later becoming valedictorian of her graduating Harvard Law School class. She shows everyone that she’s not just a pretty face by totally shutting down her creepy professor’s attempt to feel her up, employing her cosmotological knowledge to coax a confession out of a suspect, and telling her pathetic, misogynistic ex-boyfriend where he can shove it. Although the “clue” that helps Elle crack the case is actually just a stereotype about gay men being shoe-loving fashionistas, and the only self-proclaimed feminist in the movie is a caricaturized women’s studies student whose most pressing feminist goal is getting the school to call the fall semester an “ovester”, Elle’s character is most definitely probably sort of some kind of gesture at a feminist triumph. This girl will totally make you go, “I guess if that’s the best we can do…you go girl!”
6. Shosanna Dreyfus, Inglourious Basterds
Shosanna is a young Jewish woman living in Paris during WWII, hiding her true identity after her family was murdered by a Nazi officer several years earlier. When a German propaganda film about the exploits of a German war hero is scheduled to premier at the theater she owns, she hatches a plot to burn down the theater and kill the numerous Nazi officers who will be in attendance. Shosanna’s badass revenge plot goes off without a hitch, and the theater and all of its attendees go up in flames while her cackling face is projected on a massive screen. Although Shosanna herself is actually killed by the dude who has been sexually harassing her for the entire film, and the all-male team of Basterds are the ones who actually kill a lot of the major Nazis (including Hitler himself) by riddling them with bullets, and the Nazi dick who killed her family doesn’t even die (although he does have a swastika carved into his forhead with a hunting knife—again, by the all-male team of Basterds), she definitely gets some sort of revenge, amirite ladies? WOOP, I guess!
If these badass leading ladies don’t make you jump up and down and say, “YAAASSS for the most part!”, we don’t know what will!