One of my favorite things about Fringe from the very first episode has been the nuanced performance Anna Torv brings to her FBI agent Olivia Dunham. She’s a study in determination, bravery, and even restraint. Olivia’s got this delicate beauty that is offset by the severe ponytail she often wears and the purposeful stride she adopts in her workplace. She’s hardened because the circumstances (and her childhood) warrant it, but is undoubtedly feminine. We’ve seen her dedication to the job as well as her devotion to her loved ones.
After sitting back and appreciating Olivia’s role in the amazing winter finale of Fringe last night (read Ken Tucker’s very astute recap), I realized that my two favorite women on TV right now (Torv’s Olivia and Julianna Margulies’ Alicia Florrick on The Good Wife) have quite a few things in common. Alicia is a woman done wrong who’s figuring out how to do right by everyone, including herself. Like Olivia, her woman is that rare thing seen on TV: seemingly stoic while managing complex emotions. They don’t devolve into hysterics or wear their emotions on their sleeves or act self-destructively. Their ability to keep themselves composed can come off cold but they’ve both been written and played to show so many dimensions to their character. They are no-nonsense, capable women with really deep, complicated emotions who get things done despite the stressful situations they’re dealing with. They are extremely competent and compassionate, while being measured and thoughtful. It hit me: They’re my new TV role models!
No one’s beating out Claire Huxtable on my list of TV women I want to be, but who wouldn’t want to aspire to be like these two? No, I don’t want to deal with alternate realities and freaky occurrences or a public-figure spouse who’s humiliated his family. But I do want to glean something from their examples of grace under pressure. That (along with the excellent writing and fine casts) is what makes these shows good TV and makes me show up week after week.
So who is your current TV role model? Should anyone else be on my list?