Kick-Ass Heroes – No! Make that Kick-Ass Heroines


I have two new addictions to add to my telly watching: Missing and Unforgettable. These two shows have been added into my favourites:

  • Alias
  • Nikita
  • Missing
  • Unforgettable
  • Rizzoli & Isles
  • Women’s Murder Club
  • Cold Case
  • Bones
  • Castle

What do all these shows have in common? Crime, Murders, Mysteries, Adventure and Intrigue – Yes! But they all have one important factor. All of them are headlined by powerful Kick-ass Heroes Heroines. What a change to see how far the world has come that top crime shows are no longer just headlined by men but that the shows headlined by women are becoming more and more common.

As a woman this makes me excited and as a writer it makes me doubly excited. I love writing about strong, independent women in a man’s world. I love reading about strong, independent women in a man’s world. What I also love about these shows is that every single one of these kick-ass heroines have not sacrificed their femininity to portray these roles. I love that a woman can still be a woman and do a “man’s job” as well as the man. I love that women are no longer held back by their gender and instead are empowered by their sheer femininity and their differences from men are what set them apart.

What a different world we live in and how things have changed, gender stereotypes most of all. I remember when I grew up, my favourite shows were Magnum P.I., MacGyver, AirWolf, The A Team, Rip Tide. These shows also had the common elements of crime, murders, mysteries, adventure and intrigue but they had a major difference in that they were headlined by men. Admittedly there was Murder She Wrote which was headlined by a woman but as much as I love Angela Lansbury, she was hardly going to be chasing down any criminals in an alleyway.

I shared with you, in a blog post last week, that I would have loved to have been an FBI agent. I guess this is one of the reasons I watch the television shows I do. I also love reading these types of stories. Tess Gerritsen’s Rizzoli & Isles series, Kathy Reichs’s Temperance Brennan series and James Patterson’s Murder Women’s Club are all favourites of mine. The women in these stories and in these television shows are feminine, intelligent, strong, independent, tough, take-no-nonsense kind of gals.

Kick-ass heroines are also a reason why I do not read romances or watch romances or write romances. I have nothing against romance but I have a big problem with the so-called “heroines” of the traditional romance. In my opinion there is hardly anything about them that can be called heroic. These women are characters who traditionally need a man to fix all their problems, to give them happiness and to show them the way. As a woman I am really annoyed by this completely false and outdated view of women. But this post is not about romances and the romance genre and again each to their own. Those genres have their fans but I am not among them.

Back to my favourite kick-ass heroines…

Not only are these headline characters strong women but the shows have great plot-lines. In particular, Missing is a show full of twists and turns, cliffhangers, lies and secrets: after all what else would a show about the CIA be other than this. But the real winning element of this show for me is the main character played by Ashley Judd. Her emotion and her adrenaline keep me on tenterhooks each week. For those who are unfamiliar with the show, it follows the story of a mother (Ashley Judd), who just happens to be a retired CIA agent, who is looking for her son who has gone missing. Each episode opens up a little more of her back story while also giving the viewer more questions. Each episode also takes us to a new destination in Europe as she is on the run both being helped (at times) by the CIA and more often than not being hindered by them. But nothing will stop her looking for her son and finding him. You know she will not rest until she has found him. What more womanly trait could you find then a mother who will not give up searching for her son and making sure he is safe? But this mother is no housewife. She is a tough, no-holds-barred, trained government agent who ends up getting in more skirmishes than the average mom would be.

As a woman first and a writer second it is so refreshing to watch, read and then to write about stories where the heroine is the one fixing her own world, solving crimes and mysteries and still having to navigate being a woman in a “man’s world”. These women are not given any special privileges because of their gender and if anything have to work harder, be tougher, and prove themselves more to be respected in their roles. They still fall in love, are still emotional and feminine and still feel conflicted about having to walk the tight rope between being a woman and being a woman in a “man’s world”. This is what draws me to their stories. I find they are more complicated, face more challenges and are more conflicted then men in those same roles are. They bring an emotional angle to stories that traditionally shy away from emotion. The best thing is that there will be even more stories to watch, to read and to write about Kick-ass heroines and that makes my day.

This keeps me inspired to write the stories I do. As a woman I want adventure, thrills, chills and spicy romance. Now we aren’t just the swooning young girl or the calculating older woman, we are the kick-ass heroines fixing our own problems and standing on our own feet. No longer are we the Bond girls. We are now Bond! No more Superman needed because we can be Lara Croft.

(Aside: I am also thrilled that for the first time ever, this year’s Olympics was a triumph for women when every single country that took part had at least one woman athlete competing for her place in Olympic history.)

Tell me… Who is your favourite kick-ass heroine?

What do you enjoy about series (television and/or literature) with women lead characters?

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10 Comments

  1. these are all a great shows, I must agree with you. another good one is Lie to Me with Tim Roth. Great show!!

  2. My favorite heroine is Kara “Starbuck” Thrace from Battlestar Galactica (the new one, not the one from the 70s). She is physically tough and does what she thinks is right, even when it gets her thrown in the brig. She’s flawed, too – and not always a nice person – but I admire her because she has the strength to stand for herself, no matter the odds.

    I loved the A-Team and MacGyver! Those shows are probably at least part of the reason I’ve always felt more in common with most men than women. The role-models we had as girls in that time period… well, considering I can’t remember them, I guess they weren’t very compelling!

    Fun post, Kim!! 🙂

    -aniko

  3. I don’t watch much tv and use it to relax, so I tend to stay on the lighter side. Hence the only shows I’ve watched regularly on your list are Bones and Castle. (You might add The Mentalist, which is basically Castle with a darker, less trustworthy male lead.)

    The thing is, I didn’t think much about the position of the women in those shows because I find them realistic. The writers aren’t trying to make them into men, able to physically beat up on men. (Except in those early, somewhat laughable scenes in Bones.) Yes, some women can beat up on men, but it’s not realistic for most women. Instead, these women are smart. They’re leaders, sending out away teams like Jean Luc Picard. If they get hit or shot, they keep fighting back. Sometimes they *do* get rescued by the man. Sometimes they do the rescuing. They exist in partnership with men, not dominating and not being dominated.

  4. The bottom rung of those shows I don’t watch, but the top four: Alias, Nikita, Missing, Unforgettable, I do. I’m with you on this. I think women in the lead heroic role makes things that much more interesting…… hell, that’s the main purpose behind my book, “Chronicles of a Girl” http://www.markkoning.com/chronicles.html
    Recently I watched a movie titled “Gone” with Amanda Seyfrid. I loved it!

    • Hi Mark 🙂
      Mmmh must watch “Gone” – will add it to be “to be watched” list, almost as long as my “to be read list”.
      Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  5. A great post! Woman can and do kick ass.

    I personally love the Rizzoli and Isles series. A great team to watch. I also love Castle, but I’m afraid to say, that’s to watch the male lead 😉

    • I too love the male lead in Castle but I love the fact that the female lead is the “boss” and not the sidekick in that series.
      Thanks for stopping by Rebecca. 🙂

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