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13 women who rule TV

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By Alexander Zalben,

TV has always been the best entertainment medium for discovering and exploring stories of powerful, strong, and nuanced women. From lawyers, to doctors; queens, to zombie killers; and everything in between... If you're looking for a way to celebrate women on International Women's Day, bingeing a female-centric TV show is a solid choice.

So whether you're striking or working; marching in protest, or sitting at home in quiet reflection; here are 13 women who rule TV... And bring some of the best storytelling in any medium with them:

1. Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington), Scandal

The head of Olivia Pope and Associates takes no s--- from anyone. She's dated the President, taken down men in power, and knows how to march into the Oval Office like no one else in history. But ultimately, it's her loyalty to her friends and the people she loves (and also a good glass of wine) that makes her the best she can be.

2. Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh), Supergirl

Though Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) is a strong character in her own right, her adopted sister Alex has dominated the second season of the show since it moved to The CW. With an incredibly beautiful and true-to-life coming out story, and an emotional storyline involving her missing father (Dean Cain), Alex is the real super girl.

3. Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey), Game of Thrones

In a show packed with powerful women, Cersei (finally) leads the pack. She's eliminated her rivals, lost her children, donned a killer black outfit -- and taken the Iron Throne of Westeros, the prize everyone on HBO's hit fantasy show is vying for.

4. Clarke Griffin (Eliza Taylor), The 100

Who makes the hard choices no one else can? Clarke Griffin! Who, when presented with a switch or button that will kill massive amounts of people, but save the people she loves, doesn't hesitate to flip that switch or press that button? Clarke Griffin! And who is loved by men and women alike, while being hated and envied by everyone around her? You know we're talking about Clarke Griffin.

5. Carol Peletier (Melissa McBride), The Walking Dead

No one character has grown and changed on AMC's post-apocalyptic drama as much as Carol. She started as an abused housewife, grew into a a powerful voice, and then became a merciless killing machine. Even if she's backed off from the latter, Carol (like everyone else on TWD) is trying to find her place in the world, and we love her for it.

6. Annalise Keating (Viola Davis), How to Get Away With Murder

Vacillating between unstoppably powerful and heart-wrenchingly vulnerable, Annalise Keating is the most nuanced, well fleshed out character on TV. Also, if you're looking to kill someone and get away with it? She's your woman.

7. Olivia Moore (Rose McIver), iZombie

Though she's often other personalities, due to taking on the characteristics of people after eating their brains (post-death, come on, she's not a murderer!), Liv still manages to perfectly channel the struggles of navigating life as a woman... Even if her journey truly started after her death.

8. Maeve Millay (Thandie Newton), Westworld

If we were joining a robot revolution, we'd want Maeve to lead the way. HBO's sci-fi epic delved deeply into questions of female empowerment, ownership, and whether a patriarchy can make way for a matriarchy; with all those questions crystallizing in Maeve's storyline. Ultimately, leading into the (not-coming-anytime-soon) second season, Maeve's big question is whether she is in control of her own destiny. We'll follow her to the ends of the world, whatever the answer.

9. Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn), Better Call Saul

Though the show is ostensibly about the titular character, Kim Wexler -- Saul's (Bob Odenkirk) sometimes romantic interest -- had the most fleshed out storyline in the AMC show's second season, as she explored why she wants to be a lawyer; and more importantly, what she wants to do with her life as a human being. Often characters like Kim are defined by their male relationships... Season 2 was all about asking, "what if she wasn't?"

10. Syd Barrett (Rachel Keller), Legion

If you're putting together a list of powerful women, you'd do well to include one of the most powerful mutants on the planet. Syd has a bit of Pushing Daisies disease: due to having the power to switch places with anyone she touches, she's unable to interact with the man she loves. But despite all that, she's forming her own identity (the show's main theme), and arguably is the main character on the show.

11-13. Betty Cooper, Veronica Lodge, Cheryl Blossom (Lili Reinhart, Camila Mendes, Madelaine Petsch), Riverdale

Welcome to your new The Craft coven. Though the Betty/Veronica dichotomy is usually the backbone of your typical Archie Comics story, on The CW's reimagining of the franchise, this trio -- which fights as much as they work together -- is the true cornerstone of the show. Across the board, even in this young season, B, V and C are three of the most complex portrayals of teen characters ever seen on TV. More, please.

(Full Disclosure: TVGuide.com is owned by CBS, one of The CW's parent companies.)


 

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