I have mentioned in past articles about how much I love television. I don’t get a lot of time to watch it anymore, but growing up I spent a lot of time in front of one. TV also seemed more important then. Most households didn’t have one in every room and there was no Netflix, so families would sit down in the living room together, watching one show when it aired. I have great memories of sitting down with my family and watching shows together. I looked up to so many of those characters and dreamt of being just like them someday. Here are my top 5 television show characters that I wanted to be when I grew up:
1. Clair Huxtable – The Cosby Show
Growing up, The Cosby Show was very important. My family and I never missed an episode. It was culturally signficant for so many reasons. An upper-middle class African-American family on a major network that did really well in the ratings was a new thing. I didn’t know any of this, of course. I was a little girl who looked up to Rudy! I remember thinking “wow, she’s a kid and she has on a bracelet!” Yeah, I was probably a year or two younger than Rudy. As the show went on, season after season, I started looking up to Clair. Not only because she was pretty, she was also sweet, smart and a very successful lawyer. Her children loved her and even seemed afraid, though she never yelled at them or spanked them. Didn’t every little girl want to grow up to be her?
2. Lucy Ricardo - I Love Lucy
Lucy Ricardo was one of my first television influences. It was one of the few shows I watched other than Sesame Street as a little kid. In the beginning of the show’s 6-season run, she was just a housewife who “wanted to be in the show”. As a kid, I thought Lucy was funny and pretty and even though she couldn’t sing a lick, she was talented! Every time Lucy made a “surprise appearance” by crashing Ricky’s show at the Tropicana, she always made it better! Even when it appeared she was screwing up the show, she was actually making it better! Perhaps Ricky didn’t want her to be part of the show because he was afraid she’d steal the spotlight from him! When he was telling her a wife’s duty was to stay home and cook and clean, she was scheming and plotting on how to be in show business. In the end, she was in a lot of shows, in a few movies and got to meet a ton of celebrities! She did what she wanted to do, and it was hilarious!
3. Phoebe Buffay – Friends
Okay, I’ll admit it. When Friends first began and everybody wanted to be Rachel, I wanted to be Rachel, too. Not because of the stupid haircut that had young women in a frenzy, but because she was adorable! But again, as the show went on, if you think about it, didn’t Phoebe seem like the more fun friend? Of course, Rachel found her own path and went from a coffeehouse waitress to working at Ralph Lauren (and almost in Paris), but Phoebe was a musician and masseuse who got to set her own hours while still living in a pretty nice New York City apartment. She stood up for her convictions, whether it was being a vegetarian or sticking to her guns in her non-belief of evolution. She dated a lot of cute guys, got to marry Paul Rudd and probably had the least amount of drama on the show, considering the horrible childhood she had. I mean, her mother committed suicide, she was on the streets, her twin sister was a jerk, did I leave anything out? She overcame an unhappy childhood to become a happy, self-sufficient – albeit weird – woman.
4. Charlotte York – Sex and the City
Okay, yes, Charlotte was a little judgmental and hypocritical at times. There were times where she judged her friends for some of the same things she did, but overall, Charlotte was a good person. She was truly happy for Carrie and stood by her through every horrible life decision her friend made. Remember when Carrie announced in the movie that her and Big were engaged and Charlotte screamed in the middle of the restaurant? That’s who she was! She also tried her best to be a good wife to Trey, even dealing with his nosy rude mother, Bunny. Oh, and she also had an amazing sense of style! In the end, Charlotte was not only a good friend, but she became a great wife and mother. Now I want to go rewatch the entire series (which I own on DVD, of course!)
5. Roseanne Conner – Roseanne
Roseanne still is, hands down, my favorite television show of all time. I could honestly quote every line from every episode. Roseanne really was two different shows. When it first began, Roseanne was this tired, put upon Midwestern wife and mother who worked at a factory who had a lot of bad luck. The second half of Roseanne, somewhere around season 5, Roseanne became this loud-mouth, opinionated woman who her husband was afraid of. I’m not saying these are terrible things, it made the show funnier! I also think that the change was better for the character, even if it changed the character quite a bit. Roseanne began standing up to her mother; she didn’t just take things lying down anymore and wasn’t as whiny. She owned her own business, took care of a house, and was still a good mother. She took in David and treated him like her own child, and embraced her daughter when she announced she was getting married and having a baby. I still hope to be more like Roseanne Conner!