Small Screen Supporting Sirens

Dedicated to the “sidekicks” who refuse to be sidekicks. To the women on the small screen that don’t have time to acknowledge they’re “only on TV” and probably believe the show should revolve around their character. And by and large, they’re right. They bring serious entertainment value and incredible sparkle to their shows.

This isn’t a comprehensive list, just my personal favorites from some favorite, probably nostalgia inclined, shows.

In a side note, I’m contemplating having a daughter so I can name her “Donna”. Clearly that’d be a win.

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…”Be more like a character from a TV show?” Is that not allowed?

“I’m not into you. I’m Donna.”

Donna (Suits) played by Sarah Rafferty

Suits is presumably about two hotshot lawyers and their cases. In reality it’s about how awesome Donna is at being Donna. She may be “only an assistant” but as the show progresses,and she continues to chip away at egos and be fabulous without trying, I find I’m mostly interested in what Donna’s going to say and do next.


“I’ve got all the advantages of marriage: I got a tea kettle that whistles, a parrot that talks too much and a cat that stays out all night. Who needs a husband?”

Sally (The Dick Van Dyke Show) played by Rose Marie

Sally is a third of a comedic writing team for a sketch comedy show in the black and white era. Her other two counterparts are male, but that doesn’t hold Sally back from being a witty, cutting, clever woman. She’s not out to prove a woman can make it in a man’s world, she just does.


“Do I look like I drink water?”

Donna (Parks and Recreation) played by Retta

No one throws shade better than Donna. Just a glance puts you right in your place. She knows what she’s about and she goes out to get it. She’s got her priorities right where she wants them and doesn’t apologize for living the life she enjoys. Man or no man.


“You’re having a lousy streak. I happen to be having a terrific streak. Soon the world will be back to normal. Tomorrow you will meet a crown head of Europe and marry. I will have a fat attack, eat 3000 peanut butter cups and die.”

Rhoda (The Mary Tyler Moore Show) played by Valerie Harper

Rhoda didn’t really ever enjoy being single, or most of what was happening in her life. But despite the disappointments, she kept on trying and managed to be upbeat even when totally depressed. She was the perfect cynical-yet hopeful-counterweight to the perennial Pollyanna in Mary.


“If you hurt my best friend again, one day, in the future, anthropologists will find your skeleton in an unmarked grave with a massive, massive, life ending blow to your head, by a totally awesome chick that rhymes with frenzy.”

Kenzi (Lost Girl) played by Ksenia Solo

Kenzi is undeniably Bo’s sidekick, but she prefers being there because it lets her kick ass. She’s a one-of-a-kind original and refuses to let anyone keep her down. She’s all about defying the odds and building her own community through fierce loyalty and fight.


“Why can’t these aliens ever get in trouble somewhere decent? Like Graceland or Tahoe or New Orleans. No, Utah. Mormons and mountains.”

Maria (Roswell) played by Majandra Delfino

Maria was 100% done with aliens as soon as she found out there were aliens. Three seasons of Maria living life normally in spite of alien absurdity. Sure, she had her meltdowns, and her crying fests, but mostly because her alien boyfriend was being a very human tool. She thrives in the midst of chaos and carves her own path even when the drama gets drama-ier.


“Get in there and bust up her date. Show her you care. Ruin her night.”

Rosa (Brooklyn Nine-Nine) played by Stephanie Beatriz

She’s infinitely quotable, infinitely stoic, and infinitely having none of your shit. She doesn’t know how to relate with emotions and prefers to speak the language of practicality and violence. She’s wry, she’s tough, and she understands the practical value of an ax.


“Ah, come on Sam, you know my philosophy. If you can’t say something nice, say it about Diane.”

Carla (Cheers) played by Rhea Perlman

Carla may have been a low-brow, usually single, uneducated mother of six (and counting?) but that didn’t mean she’d just take it when other people got her down. Her fights with the always prissy and pretentious Diane were half the reason to watch the show. Carla’s always got a glib retort or biting comment that let anyone in the bar know that even if she is pint-sized, she’s definitely got a fearsome bark, and bite!


Just so we’re clear on this, all the women on this list are mostly single in the shows they’re on. They’re strong, fabulous women who have more personality than anyone knows what to do with. And they all spend more time living their life than worrying about a man (except maybe Rhoda). If they DO get married, they do so without settling and without changing their best qualities.

More than that, on shows that don’t keep them in limelight, they manage to steal it more than once and prove that even if you’re not the hero of the moment, you can still be the best thing about the moment.

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2 thoughts on “Small Screen Supporting Sirens

  1. “Methinks thou protesteth too much…!” While true about those characters you mentioned I would submit that casting a large shadow can be done single, married or divorced (Zsa Zsa Gabor and Liz Taylor as well as Scarlett O’Hara ) male or female (Jimmy Olsen in the original Superman or perhaps Darren in Bewitched, {the first one not the second}). But if the point you’re trying to make is be the best darned you you can be…. I agree and cast that giant shadow! I know you do!

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    1. I particularly wanted to draw attention to the solo side characters I find in shows. Predominately comic relief, but often far outshining the leads. Little life lesson in there somewhere too 🙂

      Like

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