Today marks the anniversary of Virginia Woolf‘s birthday. While TV didn’t exist when Woolf first started out as a working writer (she would have been 134 today), her readers didn’t miss out. They could rely on her forward-thinking novels, like Mrs. Dalloway and To the Lighthouse, to paint a lively, moving mental picture.
TV watching may not have been a luxury of her time, but, even so, we like to imagine the English novelist on the couch modern day, with the remote out, indulging in a favorite program for the evening.
Here are 10 female-led TV shows we think she may have liked:
1. Laverne & Shirley
Even though Woolf may have leaned toward darker themes, we still think she’d appreciate the chutzpah of the characters Laverne (Penny Marshall) and Shirley (Cindy Williams) in the 1970s Happy Days spin-off. The TV show follows two young women living on their own, setting up an apartment and jobs during the late 1950s. It wasn’t unheard of for two women in their 20s to live together, making their way on their own, but it deffo was more traditional to be married-up. If Woolf’s glass of Pepsi was half empty, Laverne would have “spiked” it with some milk.
2. The Mary Tyler Moore Show
The Mary Tyler Moore Show, filmed and based in the 1970s, was ahead of its time (like Woolf), with the lead character being a career-minded, never-married woman in her 30s. Mary Tyler Moore portrayed Mary Richards, who moves to Minneapolis in search of a job after getting dumped by her boyfriend of two years. She applies for a secretary position at a TV station but instead earns an associate producer position. Woolf would have been keen on the idea of there being more than one ending for a jilted woman (other than death, which was a typical fate for a single woman in 20th century literature).
3. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
On the other hand, cheerleader Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar) fought her fate. She was destined to be a vampire slayer but really would have rather enjoyed her popularity at Sunnydale High. Even so, Buffy rose to the occasion in the 1990’s cult classic, not wanting her friends and community to parish. Woolf was all about get-togethers, this was the ultimate nighttime gathering.
4. Ally McBeal
Like Woolf, lawyer Ally McBeal (Calista Flockhart) never had children (well, not in the conventional manner). Sure, the Harvard graduate working at Cage and Fish had her moments, like when songs would play in her head that no one else heard, and other minor hallucinations, like a dancing baby, but for the most part, she was focused on winning cases for her law firm. We have a feeling Woolf would be cheering for McBeal as she made her way through the predominantly male-driven field of law.
5. 30 Rock
Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) may not be churning out novels like Woolf, but she is the head TV writer at TGS. If that were her only job, it’d be smooth sailing, but Lemon is also in charge of managing the show’s needy actors (Tracy Morgan, Jane Krakowski) and her almost just as needy, but in a different way, boss Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin). Lemon doesn’t have time for a nervous breakdown, but is constantly pulling her hair out over their antics. Woolf would appreciate the TV writer’s composure under pressure.
The TV show Medium follows the story of real-life medium Allison DuBois, portrayed by Patricia Arquette. DuBois has the ability to see things before they happen. She ends up working with her local district attorney’s office in Arizona in predicting crimes. Woolf suffered many losses in her life, and she may have found comfort in watching DuBois’ ability to predict the unpredictable.
Homeland‘s Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) struggles with bipolar disorder, hiding it from her colleagues at the CIA. She thinks she has a handle on the illness, until things start to fall apart. Woolf suffered from symptoms of bipolar disorder, which may have powered her need to write.
8. How to Get Away with Murder
In 1910, Woolf and a group of friends forged a telegram to the British navy inviting themselves, disguised as the Prince of Abyssinia and his entourage, onto the military ship HMS Dreadnought for a formal tour. And it worked. She wouldn’t go as far as murder, but Woolf was all for a hoax. She would definitely enjoy Viola Davis as Professor Keating in How to Get Away with Murder.
9. Jessica Jones
Misery loves company. Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) is not a happy camper. The reluctant superhero is flawed, but she’s a survivor. She would rather hang out at the local bar, drinking one whiskey after another, but she knows she has to do the right thing. Woolf may have reveled in watching someone like herself on TV, kicking butt.
10. Agent Carter
Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) seems like a typical secretary in 1946, but she secretly works for Howard Stark (yes, that Stark, Iron Man’s dad). Sadly, Woolf died in 1941. If Woolf could watch the Marvel spy drama, she’d get a glimpse at one of her contemporaries in action.
Cheers to you Virginia Woolf, we know you had a fun side!Read More