Everyone loves “strong female characters.” From Jane Eyre to Veronica Mars, they’re so urgently desired and highly praised that they’ve practically become a brand: tough, intelligent women who can probably both beat you in a physical fight and outsmart you in a battle of wits. What’s not to like? But in an essay for last weekend’s New York Times magazine, Carina Chocano says she’s had enough of them. In fact, she argues, these “tough, cold, terse, taciturn” ladies have become so pervasive that we’re now suffering from a dearth of weak female characters — complex, well-written women who happen to also be meek, feminine, neurotic, or otherwise imperfect. Although we’re big fans of strong female characters, we have to admit that some of the most fascinating women in literature, film, and TV would never fit that description. Ten of our favorites are after the jump.
Chocano accurately describes Kristen Wiig’s Annie as a “delightfully, deliriously, awesomely messed-up and pathetic character” — but one that most of us nonetheless identify with, because we’ve totally been there, screwing up our own love lives, facing professional failure, and wondering why our friends are so much more successful than we are. Annie is a great lady who’s been sucked into a downward spiral of her own making. She’s far from hopeless, but she needs a serious kick in the ass to stop feeling sorry for herself and start fixing her life.