We have entered a glorious time for women on television. Female-driven comedies like The Mindy Project and New Girl grace our television sets as well as dramas such as Scandal and Orange is the New Black. But as our electronic devices explode with estrogen-fueled entertainment, it’s more important than ever that these shows portray female characters of all shapes and sizes. Every age, color, and yes—even volume. The following women are remarkable, not for how loudly they speak, but for what they say and do. Many of them you’d never even think of as introverts. Here’s why I would argue differently and why you should take notice.
1. Lisa Simpson, The Simpsons
Lisa Simpson is simply an inspiration to introverted women everywhere. At the age of eight, she’s already a talented musician, scholar, world traveler, and all-around overachiever. Sure, she may be lacking on the friends front, but who needs friends when you’re on the path to world domination? This little girl has one bright future ahead of her. . .assuming she ever turns nine.
2. Poussey Washington, Orange Is the New Black
Prison can be a pretty rough place for an introvert. Poussey makes it work though. Everyone’s favorite incarcerated librarian is full of surprises, from her back-story romance in Germany to her willingness to stand up to Vee when no one else would. Poussey isn’t afraid to fight for what she believes in, even if that means losing her standing with the only friends she has in this awful place. And when Poussey gets her sensitive heart-broken, we can’t help but feel a little broken too.
3. Marnie Michaels, Girls
Marnie is kind of easy to hate. She’s privileged, looks like a model, and why are her teeth so friggin‘ perfect? Then, as we begin to witness her breakdown in Season 3, complete with that humiliating YouTube rendition of a certain Edie Brickell song, it’s hard not to sympathize with the girl. The real clincher comes in the episode “Beach House,” in which her well-laid plans for a cozy weekend with close friends are derailed by an obnoxious group of guys and her more extroverted friends’ complete lack of consideration. Marnie may not seem like the most obvious introvert, but this episode really shows her true colors.
4. Detective Rosa Diaz, Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Tough as nails and short on words, Detective Diaz chooses to keep her work and private life separate. In fact, no one knows much of anything about Diaz. We don’t know where she lives. We know nothing about her past, except what Sergeant Jeffords was able to sleuth out about her getting “kicked out of ballet school for beating the crap out of ballerinas.” We can only imagine that she spends a lot of time alone.
5. Claire Underwood, House of Cards
Claire is so pleasant and well-mannered, it’s almost easy to forget that she’s a power-mad status seeker who will stop at nothing to get what she wants. Through strategy and calculated manipulation, Claire manages to climb to the top without ever shouting or getting a hair out-of-place. But at the end of the day, she wants nothing more than a quiet evening at home and a glass of wine with her partner-in-crime hubby.
6. Dr. Lilith Sternin-Crane, Cheers
Let’s go back, way back to the ’80s and a bar where everybody knows your name. Dr. Sternin-Crane matches all the worst stereotypes of introversion. She’s stiff. Socially awkward. She’s not what you would call a realistic character. Yet there’s something incredibly sweet and original about her bizarre romance with Dr. Frasier Crane. Lilith may have been a walking stereotype, but she paved the way for future funny ladies on TV with her unique blend of humor, and for that we should be grateful.
7. Pam Beesly, The Office
Pam is that girl at work that all the guys have a crush on and all the girls want to befriend. She’s pretty, sweet, artistic, and has a wicked sense of humor. What’s not to like about her? Though Pam may not be an obvious favorite in a cast full of wacky, larger-than-life characters, you’ve got to appreciate her for her straight-faced wisdom. In a show that often lost control and pushed the limits of plausibility too far, Pam kept things grounded. Plus, it was nice to finally see a real person on TV.
8. Peggy Olson, Mad Men
Peggy is the polar opposite of her red-headed female counterpart in the office of Sterling Cooper Draper Price. While Joan uses her charisma and people skills to get ahead, Peggy must rely on hard work and good ideas to shatter that glass ceiling. Every step forward may be three times as difficult for her to achieve as for her male counterparts, but Peggy has proven time and time again she’s got what it takes and won’t ever give up.
Rachel Tucker is the creator of Introverts, a web series about three awesome introverted female roommates. Rachel received an MFA from USC Film School and has written and produced two award-winning feature films, Time Expired and Shades.
(Images via AMC, FOX, NBC, HBO and Netflix)