THE POP CULTURE SHE-ROES OF 2017
ZANE: For me, the definition of she-ro is visually summed up by that moment when Kate McKinnon emerges out of the supernatural fog in 2016’s Ghostbusters, shooting her ghost-busting guns in slow-mo, and then licking the barrel.
In that moment, I felt like I had witnessed a real female superhero, and it filled me with glee and tears. I think, however, that she-ros are not just tough chicks doing the same cool stuff the dudes do. I think they do that stuff, but they also do it in a way that reflects the strengths of our gender.
KIM: I totally agree! As a kid, I gravitated toward action-based cartoons and movies and was always angry that there were either no female characters, or the only woman around was the lead’s love interest. As Hollywood slowly caught on that women were starving to see strong representation on screen, characters like Ellen Ripley, Sarah Connor, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer were everything to me. And I love that we are seeing the Strong Female Lead continue to evolve and not just be all about super strength. We can have Daenerys Targaryen riding dragons into battle while Cersei Lannister’s main weapon is her devious mind. While many of the women on our list are bad-ass warriors, others wield their power through compassion, wit, and integrity.
11. Valkyrie, Thor: Ragnarok
KIM: A boozy, disgruntled former member of Asgard’s all-women army, she kicks ass even when she’s drunk off her ass. My only regret is that a scene was cut that confirmed her character’s implied bisexuality, which would have been a groundbreaking moment in a Marvel Universe movie. On the upside, big props to director Taika Waititi for casting an incredible actress of color, Tessa Thompson, in the role of a Norse warrior.
10. Women of Stranger Things 2
ZANE: Stranger Things 2 introduced a new girl character, Max--video game dominator, skateboarder, fearless redhead, and almost certainly a Sagittarius. The character’s thesis statement might be “Girls can do cool things without having mindpowers and bloody noses.”
We also have momma bear Joyce, finding and losing love while remaining fierce.
Nancy, getting sloppy drunk and reenacting Temple of Doom with floppy haired butthead Jonathon. She also got #justiceforBarb with an assist from Brett Gelman. Nancy was already tough, but her cabin showdown with the entity possessing Will Byers was pure she-ro stuff.
Eleven...also did things? Mostly she fought with Hopper. I think she’s going through a stage. Junior High is tough, ya’ll.
KIM: I cheered aloud when Nancy took the rifle from Jonathan during the final showdown. I want to see her go full Furiosa in season 3.
9. Diana Prince/Wonder Woman
KIM: Finally, us nerds got the Wonder Woman movie we’ve been waiting years for, and we were not disappointed (raise your hand if you cried during the training scenes in Themyscira. Or during the No Man’s Land sequence. Or pretty much from the opening scene straight through to the end credits). It turns out we dodged a bullet when Fallen Feminist Joss Whedon’s Wonder Woman script stalled out, because the version we got, as directed by Patty Jenkins and starring Gal Gadot, was the empowering movie we all needed and deserved in this shitshow of a year.
ZANE: Basically I could weep through the entirety of this movie. I’d like to give a shout out to second fiddle Etta Candy, played by Lucy Davis. The comic book character she’s based on is intriguing, and I enjoyed her sarcasm and wonderment at watching Diana try to assimilate.
8. The women of GLOW
ZANE: My GLOW girls managed to create real community and find their inner athletes, despite being put in a situation that was engineered to turn them into jokes and/or sexualized objects. For that, they are 1980s she-roes. Alison Brie’s main character begins as a real life heel, having slept with her best friend’s loser ass husband, but she becomes something more when she crafts her heel persona and steps into the ring. Similarly, her best friend, played by Betty Gilpin, finds something inside herself as she casts off the shackles of her marriage and embraces her body.
7. Dina from Girls Trip
KIM: Good friends are always up for a fun weekend away with the girls. True friends will tell you if your man isn’t good enough for you. And the greatest friends of all will upstage your humiliating moment when you peed your pants on Bourbon Street by jumping on the zipline and spraying every pedestrian below you with a shocking amount of urine while laughing hysterically.
6. Lorraine from Atomic Blonde
KIM: James Bond is so over. I’d rather watch 50 billion sequels of Charlize Theron jumping off balconies, stabbing henchmen with her stiletto heel, and outsmarting James McAvoy in between swigging vodka and seducing French spies. I also want to mention that during filming, Charlize did most of her own stunts, cracked her ribs, and broke two teeth, so Hollywood better be paying her that top tier Tom Cruise money.
5. Laura from Logan
ZANE: This strange little character seems to be the living embodiment of “Girl Power,” especially when she’s going full feral berserker rage while wearing her unicorn t shirt.
What else can we expect from Logan’s cloned daughter? Also, she has foot spikes.
4. Eleanor Shellstrop from A Good Place
KIM: Nobody’s perfect. The crushing weight that is our daily existence on this planet can lead us to be rude, selfish, lazy, and apt to bury our feelings under All-You-Can-Eat shrimp. Eleanor’s quest to become a good person may have started for selfish reasons, but as she realizes that she does truly care about others, she shows that all of us petty, imperfect assholes are capable of growth and redemption. And that’s pretty forking great.
ZANE: Pobody’s nerfect but I agree about Eleanor.
3. Meghan Markle
KIM: She’s an American biracial outspoken feminist marrying a British prince, so she’s the woke version of a Hallmark Holiday movie and therefore deserves all of the shout-outs.
2. Sansa Stark
ZANE: I know we all love Arya’s stab-happy journeys through Essos, but this season of GoT finally let Sansa come into her own. In a way, she’s had the best teachers: Ned and Catelyn, Cersei, Tyrion, Littlefinger. Or she’s learned the best lessons. Her takedown of Littlefinger will live forever in the she-ro Hall of Fame. Often this season she also seemed like the only Stark who wasn’t completely nuts. Arya was like stab stab stab, and Bran is too high (according to Leslie Jones) to make sense at all. Jon is too busy fucking his aunt to bother. Meanwhile, Sansa was making policy decisions and thinking five moves ahead of the game.
1. Carrie Fisher
ZANE: I know she passed away just before the end of last year, but we’re seeing a lot of her in The Last Jedi promos, so I’d like to pause and salute my original she-ro. Of course, she was kickass as Princess Leia--snappy, brave, befriender of Ewoks, rescuer of errrrybody in Jabba’s lair. But she was also a wonderful woman IRL too. Her bravery and openness about mental illness and drug addiction changed the conversation in this country. She was the best at the press tour--in fact, my memory today on Facebook was a quote from her interview at the Today Show. She was flawed but brilliant, and I still miss her. Celebrity deaths usually don’t affect me, but this one cut deep.
KIM: I’m going to cry throughout The Last Jedi. Carrie will forever remain in the All-Time Hall of Fame of She-Ros.