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17 July 2008 @ 14:25
my version of meta involves lists.  
NOTE: Please note the "What I Love" in the titles of the lists below. And please refrain from passing judgement on my taste in occasionally cheesy genre television, as that is very much not the point of this exercise.

This is not meant to be a comprehensive list of shows from the last 20 years with female leads. The point for me was to point out the female leads in stories I personally have loved. Even if I didn't love them all the way through (Buffy, for example). Even if the material itself is not Shakespeare (one more person bad mouths Special Unit 2 to me, and I Will Cut You. I Mean it).

If you are convinced I have missed a vital character/show, please go back to the "What I [Personally] Have Loved" and feel free to point out characters in stories you have loved. But remember--this list is very personal to me. I may well have forgot someone I meant to include (Vicki Nelson, from Blood Ties for example got added when someone made a meep? noise). Or it may not have made my list for a good reason (i.e. Alias. I did not love it. Nikita OTOH, was an entirely different story. Until it started To Suck. See Buffy).

Vaguely Recent (i.e. Last 10 Years) Fictional Things What I Love With Female Leads Who Are Actually Leads and Not Solely Sidekicks/Wives/Girlfriends/Supporting Cast

The Middleman (Wendy)
Bones (Brennan)
Blood Ties (Victory Nelson)
Sarah Connor Chronicles (Sarah Connor)
Sarah Jane Adventures (Sarah Jane, Maria Jackson)
Doomsday (Maj. Eden Sinclair)
MirrorMask (Helena)
Wire in the Blood (Carol Jordan)
Catwoman (Selina Kyle) [Post-Zero Hour Brubaker run]
Battlestar Galactica (Starbuck, Roslin, Six)
Howl's Moving Castle (Sophie)
Spirited Away Chihiro
Pirates of the Caribbean (Elizabeth Swan)
Spaced (Daisy Steiner)
Gosford Park (Mary MacEachran)
Red Cap (Jo McDonough)
SportsNight (Dana)
Mulan Mulan
Special Unit 2 (Kate Benson)
Dark Angel (Max)
Farscape (Aeryn Sun)

Not At All Recent (i.e. Before 1998) Fictional Things What I Love With Female Leads Who Are Actually Leads and Not Solely Sidekicks/Wives/Girlfriends/Supporting Cast

Wonder Woman (Diana)
Labyrinth (Sarah)
Jem (erm... the entire cast)
Press Gang (Linda Day)
Gargoyles (Elisa Maza)
The X-Files (Scully)*
Voyager (Janeway)*
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Buffy)*
Nikita (Nikita)*
vr5 (Sydney Bloom)
Earth 2 (Devon Adair)
Lois & Clark (Lois Lane)
Bionic Woman (Jamie Sommers)
Moonlighting (Maddie Hayes)
Scarecrow & Mrs King (Amanda King)
Remington Steele (Laura Holt)
Kiki's Delivery Service (Kiki)
My Neighbour Totoro (Mei, Satsuki)
Léon (Mathilde)
The Thomas Crown Affair (Catherine Banning)

* I did love them once, even if I still mentally add "before they started to suck", so I left them in.

ETA: I so need to work up a list of Fictional Characters What I Love And Who Are Awesome Even if They Are Sidekicks/Wives/Girlfriends/Supporting Cast, but for me today, it's really all about the Leads and Co-Leads.

Also, I define lead as "who's story is this?" Which is why Laura Holt and Wendy Watson, etc. because you cannot deny that in their cases, it is their story. They are in partnerships with men, they are co-leads with men, but the story we are being told is undeniably theirs.

EMETA: And before you ask, I left out Doctor Who and Torchwood on purpose. Cos if you ask me, Gwen and Rose, Martha, and Donna are all co-leads. But if you ask large chunks of fandom, they're sidekicks or love interests or both. And that's not a question I really want to get into here or now, cos I'm holding onto my sanity by a thread. But I'd say Gwen, at least, is presented from day one (literally) as a lead. As was Rose, tho by the time we hit the third series, it's more equally the Doctor's story, than his companions' stories. Which is a shift the series had to make (which I fully support), once it had been successfully relaunched.
beatrice_otterbeatrice_otter on 17th July 2008 21:20 (UTC)
The original movie is okay; I much prefer the series. As for the TV show ... it depends on what season you're watching. Fandom is way skewed toward Jack and Daniel, in ways that the show itself isn't. She's got good stuff throughout the series, but seasons five, seven, and eight are where she really shines. In season eight, for example, she's the one commanding SG-1 as Jack has been bumped up to run the SGC. Seasons 7-8 are also the seasons she got a long-running plot arc involving a boyfriend outside the SGC. The only other original character to get a multi-season plot arc is Daniel, who got two. (Finding/losing Sha're in season one through three, getting disillusioned/pursuing enlightenment, seasons three through six. I don't count Teal'c and Jaffa Freedom, because he spent so much time in the background and the Jaffa episodes were never really integrated into the larger overarching plot/themes of the show.) Seasons nine and ten ... they brought in several new characters, and in the push to establish the new characters and take the show in a different direction, all of the older characters except Daniel got pushed back. Those two seasons really centered around Cam Mitchell and Vala Mal Doran. But even though Carter got pushed back to more of a sidekick role, Vala was definitely a leading character--complete with a plot arc that lasted both seasons.

Stargate Atlantis, I'm not really fannish about. Like SG-1, fandom is skewed to the two male leads (Sheppard and McKay) to a far greater extent than the show itself. And seasons 1-3, yeah, Teyla and Elizabeth are sidekicks for the most part despite moments of brilliance. But season four, when Sam Carter commanded and the main plot was the disappearance of Teyla's people? Both Carter and Teyla were definitely leads. It's too early to tell what will happen with season five, as the main part of the Teyla plot arc have been wrapped up and Carter has left the show.