I guess Mrs. Garrett gets consideration, but really I wanted to do this post because it was hard for me to think of a solid list here. I was watching an old re-run and I saw the character who I have at #1, and it just made me think about who else I would put on the list. The names didn’t come flooding into my mind like you might expect after a life of watching TV like mine. If you casually Google a list of top sitcom characters of all-time you’ll probably only see a few women in the top 2o or 30 and those are characters that are before my time…Lucille Ball, Carla from Cheers, maybe Laverne or Shirley? I didn’t watch those shows. For me, the female sitcom stars are too few and far between. A top five, with apologies to Tina Fey, who I honestly liked better on SNL.
5. Marge Simpson. I haven’t seen an episode of the Simpsons in years, but if you just go from about season 3 to season 9, that’s a decent run for a normal sitcom. I think in many ways the Simpsons has been carried through the years by their supporting characters. Homer was classic, but eventually his act wears a little thin. Marge is the ultimate complimentary character. She puts up with everything, has great hair, and when they let her shine, she really can step up. Sample Marge Quote: “Homer, I don’t want to leave Springfield. I dug myself into a happy little rut here, and I don’t feel like hoisting myself out of it.”
4. Grace from Will and Grace. I’ve occasionally been given a hard time about liking Will & Grace. To those people I kindly responded that they were morons for not watching the show. It was damn funny. Especially for the first four seasons or so. There are two really good female characters in this one. Grace and Karen. Karen, I enjoyed, but it was a little too much shtick to make the list. Grace I like so much, because she’s a complete hot mess. She just never quite gets it together, and yet she completely owns it. Very endearing. Sample Grace quote, “Today I’m handing out lollipops and ass whoopings, and right now I’m all out of lollipops.”
3. Kelly from the Office. I think Kelly might be my favorite female character on TV right now. Leslie Knope is making a nice charge, but Kelly is just fantastic. I think she’s the only character on The Office that is still just as funny as she was at the start of the show. I think her role is just small enough that they don’t have to keep reinventing her. She just sticks to what she does best, which is stealing a couple of minutes per episode. Favorite Kelly quote: “Darryl Philbin is the most complicated man I’ve ever met. I mean, who says exactly what they are thinking? What kind of game is that?”
2. Roseanne. Roseanne was such a good show when it first came on. And, it paved the way for a lot of women to get their own shows, or to take on better roles, but for whatever reason I don’t think anyone got in Roseanne’s ballpark. There were some unique aspects to this show. First, Roseanne wasn’t rich and she wasn’t some beauty queen posing as a housewife. You think of the 80s sitcoms…Who’s the Boss? Growing Pains, Cosby Show, Family Ties. It’s all good-looking people in relatively well off families. Roseanne had none of that, so it had to be very funny, and it was. Occasionally Roseanne would yell at the kids on the show, and it would remind my sister and I of something our mother said to us, and that entertained us to no end. Roseanne quote, “The only thing I don’t like about fat is that it doesn’t have sugar in it.”
1. Elaine. Elaine dominates this category for me. It’s not even a close race. I still watch Seinfeld re-runs, and I think Elaine grows on me more and more. There are so many things I like about Elaine, but probably my favorite is how she can terrorize the male characters, most notably George. I love the disdain she has for George, and how you can almost sense the self-loathing that arises when she realizes these are the people she hangs out with. I think the Soup Nazi episode, probably the best in the history of the show, also sums up Elaine the best. In the end she leaves the Soup Nazi as a broken man, and that’s Elaine…spiteful and hilarious. She had her own catch phrase, “yadda, yadda, yadda,” she was the best. Elaine Quote: “I’m not a lesbian. I hate men, but I’m not a lesbian.”