There is so much to be thankful for this time of year: family, friends, good food, Oscar-bait movies, and all the amazing television the past 12 months have offered. This has been an especially stellar year to be a woman on TV, and as a result there are many female characters to be thankful for. The television gods have offered up female superheroes, hilarious ladies dealing with the craziness of real life, powerful women who will do anything to stay in charge, and thoughtful teenage girls who are determined to change the world. The variety of amazing female characters who run the gamut from being strong, optimistic, darkly funny, and achingly real have made watching TV a joy this year.
Since this is a time to give thanks, I thought it would be appropriate to celebrate 15 of the female characters who have made television so compelling in 2015. Honestly, I could probably have stretched this list to include many more heroines, but for the sake of my sanity and yours, I cut it down to the characters who I feel have been the most engaging, groundbreaking, and impossible to look away from. Each and every one of them is responsible for making 2015 a great time for women on TV, and everyone should be thankful these characters exist. May their reign last well into the new year and beyond!
1. Annalise Keating, How To Get Away With Murder
Viola Davis made history at the 2015 Emmys when she took home the Best Actress in a Drama statuette, and it was all thanks to the wonderfully complex Annalise. The lawyer/professor is a force to be reckoned with and she makes no apologies for her ruthless methods. Watching Annalise each week is a sublime pleasure.
2. Kara Danvers, Supergirl
Kara soared onto the scene as a force of optimism working for the greater good. Supergirl is an old school superhero and the fact that she is allowed to be funny, hopeful, and still kick all of the butt is a triumph.
3. Jessica Jones, Marvel's Jessica Jones
On the flipside of the superhero spectrum is the jaded, PTSD-suffering Jessica whose hard living is just one shade of a character who is clawing her way out of her own personal hell. Her journey isn't easy to watch, but it is always compelling.
4. Rebecca Bunch, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
Life was so dull before Rebecca came along. Her quest for happiness leads to some spectacularly destructive behavior, but it is her imperfection that makes her so relatable (and hilarious).
5. Jane Villanueva, Jane The Virgin
Jane is tackling motherhood head on while also pursuing her own dreams. Add in the crazy telenovela parts of her story, and is it any wonder Jane is your go-to life hero?
6. Jessica Huang, Fresh Off The Boat
One of the most self-assured characters on television, Jessica's confidence knows no bounds. She guides her family with a stern hand and the woman literally has no quit in her.
7. Kimmy Schmidt, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
The word indomitable may have been invented to describe Kimmy. Not only can her spirit not be broken, but she brings the same can do attitude to every life she touches.
8. Cookie Lyon, Empire
Everyone remembers Cookie's one-liners, but the best part about her is that her actions always back up her words. Standing in Cookie's way is not advisable, but it makes for the best television.
9. Gretchen Cutler, You're The Worst
Honest portrayals of depression are few and far between on TV, but Gretchen made so many people feel less alone this year. Her struggles are always as real as her flawless comebacks.
10. Sophia Burset, Orange Is The New Black
I'm thankful for all the women of OITNB, but Sophia's powerful arc in the final few episodes of Season 3 shined a light on the character's strength. Even as she watched the people she considered friends turn on her, Sophia held her head high as she watched the life she had built for herself crumble all over again.
11. Riley Matthews, Girl Meets World
Riley spent most of this season trying to figure out what makes her special while overlooking all the ways she is a wonderful friend, daughter, and sister. Watching her begin to discover and embrace her identity was a unique TV experience.
12. Liv Moore, iZombie
The best zombie on TV is hands down the one who is busy solving crimes and learning how to live with being undead. Liv's personality varies from week to week, but the core of who she is — a resilient, loving, sarcastic human being — remains the same.
13. Peggy Carter, Marvel's Agent Carter
Inspiration, thy name is Peggy Carter. Living in a time when being a woman and a ultra-capable spy is so not appreciated, Peggy is a total champion.
14. Patsy Mount, Call The Midwife
Patsy is always there for her friends and her community, but she had to suffer the loss of her girlfriend alone because of the time in which she lives. The heartbreak and resiliency on display during her journey made Patsy one of the year's most underrated characters.
15. Bonnie Plunkett, Mom
Bonnie is one TV's most realistic characters — a working class woman with a history of addiction, she never hides from her past. She stumbles and she screws up, but she always, always gets back up again.
I am so thankful these 15 women, and so many more, were on my TV screen this year. My only hope is that 2016 will continue to bring more and more awesome ladies to TV.