For some strange, weird reason, being single gets a bad rap. Yeah, we know, sometimes being single sucks. But you know what? Sometimes being single is awesome. Though TV (and culture generally) gives a mixed, and often completely messed-up, bag when it comes to single characters and characterizations, single life doesn’t have to be all sad eating and searching for a man. Throughout history, these fabulous, interesting, and complicated TV females have moved powerfully from work life to social life to romantic life, and yes, while they do encounter some bumps along the way, they turn out just fine.
1. Liz Lemon, 30 Rock
Our patron saint of snuggies and night cheese, Liz Lemon unknowingly paved the way for girls to accept that love for career can be more significant than looking to love a man. Liz Lemon chases a guy to the airport AND gets to eat her sandwich. If that’s not the dream, I don’t know what is. She might not have had the most fabulous dating life (remember when she almost dates her cousin?), but she sure did make us all feel like we weren’t the only ones out there.
2. Donna Meagle, Parks and Rec
For the creator of ‘Treat Yo Self’ there should be a city-wide Donna Day in Pawnee. Donna is a fierce, determined woman who isn’t afraid to tell people exactly what she wants. I imagine Donna’s apartment looks something like Tom’s, but fifteen times better because I bet she has the collector’s edition of Sex and the City and probably a margarita maker. Donna is completely open about her sexuality, too, which is so refreshing to see on a TV show. Okay, maybe the best motto isn’t “use him, abuse him, lose him,” but coming from Donna, it’s a nice boost of confidence.
3. Mary Tyler Moore, The Mary Tyler Moore Show
It’s safe to say that every time Liz Lemon has one of her “I can have it all!” moments, she’s channeling her inner Mary Tyler Moore. MTM was the first female character to burst onto the scene with a strong awesome career and an active dating life. She showed her colleagues, and the world, what it meant to be a working woman, and never apologized for that. Her theme song sums it up perfectly: you’re going to make it after all. Watching her show gives me such a warm and fuzzy feeling; I honestly believe I can do anything humming that song.
4. Olivia Pope, Scandal
The new fad diet should be Olivia Pope’s diet, popcorn and wine. No matter what, we’ve all got Liv’s back. Is her life messy? Yes. But would I love to have her life? Yes. As everything else falls apart around her, does Liv hold everything together? She’s gladiator–smart, strong, incredibly articulate and determined. I’d live off of that diet if it meant I could be one ounce of the strong female she is.
5. Edith Crawley, Downton Abbey
For some reason, we all want to feel bad for Edith because she is the seen as the “least desirable” Crawley sister. Mary’s got the looks, Sybil has the spunky charm and, well, Edith was always painted as a very plain person. (She’s so not.) Even her parents worried about her finding a man and getting married. But our girl Edith never let that get her down. She went after what she wanted, and pursued an awesome writing career. Somewhere, Jo March is ridiculously proud of her. You keep doing you, Edith.
6. Murphy Brown, Murphy Brown
When we first meet Murphy Brown, she is a recovering alcoholic in her 40s. She has just left rehab and returned to her old job where she is a force to be reckoned with. She also has a baby, and the father doesn’t really want to be in the picture. She raises her son as a single mother (and right after giving birth sings “You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman”). Murphy Brown made it work, and made it all seem funny at the same time. She proved to her co-workers—and the world—that being single is a source of pride and not something anyone should ever be ashamed of.
7. & 8. Abbi & Ilana, Broad City
These two girls come as a set, you can’t have one without the other. They make the single life look like pure freedom. You can do whatever you want, when you want, as long as you’ve got a super-tight bestie to back you up. Let’s face it, their dynamic is a whole lot more interesting than most romantic relationships you see on TV. I would gladly trade all my boyfriends for a friendship like theirs (not saying that I don’t have a best friend exactly like that, but we aren’t as gif-able as these two).
9. Peggy Olson, Mad Men
Peggy started off as a secretary, and guess what? Now she has her old boss’ job. And guess what else? She works hard for what she wants. We’ve seen Peggy cry a bunch of times, over career and romance drama, but then she puts on her big girl pants (or an amazing dress) and gets right back out there. Peggy’s a boss. She works hard for her money, and then goes home to her own cozy apartment, and watches TV with her cat. Yes, that is a glamorous life, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
10. Elaine Benes, Seinfeld
Statically speaking, about 75 percent of us will grow up to become Elaine. Okay, I made that statistic up. But you know, being Elaine wouldn’t be that bad. She dates random Yankees, she wins important bets (ahem), she doesn’t give a damn what you think about her dancing, and she’d rather go to the diner with her friends than hole up with, say, Puddy. She proves that women can actually be best buds with guys (and exes) without any drama. Above all, she is proof that being independent equals good times. Why does being single have that bad connotation when we all could be just as fabulous as Elaine?