Rat­ing on-screen fe­male journos

Windsor Star - - WEEKEND REVIEW -

MARY RICHARDS (MARY TYLER MOORE) The Mary Tyler Moore Show 1970-1977 Rat­ing: 9 Many a think piece has been writ­ten about Mary Richards as a fem­i­nist icon, es­pe­cially af­ter Moore’s pass­ing ear­lier this year. She asks for equal pay and leaves her fi­ancé when she knows they’d never make it to the al­tar. Plus, she’s a ca­pa­ble jour­nal­ist, strug­gling with is­sues that real news re­porters face, such as con­tempt of court charges, con­flicts of in­ter­est and keep­ing a straight face at ab­surd news (or, at least, she tries with that last one).

BAI­LEY QUAR­TERS (JAN SMITHERS) WKRP in Cincin­nati 1978-1982 Rat­ing: 2 It’s Loni An­der­son’s Jen­nifer Mar­lowe, the ra­dio sta­tion sec­re­tary on this CBS sit­com, who holds up as a pow­er­ful fe­male role model. In the first episode alone, she brushes off male-gaz­ing and asks for a raise. Com­par­a­tively, as­pir­ing jour­nal­ist Bai­ley is meek. And she doesn’t al­ways help her cause. Bai­ley fi­nally gets a chance at a real story — the bud­get cri­sis at a chil­dren’s hos­pi­tal — in sea­son 4, and she fab­ri­cates a source in a rough draft (which, nat­u­rally, makes it to air with hi­lar­i­ous re­sults).

LOIS LANE (TERI HATCHER) Lois & Clark The New Ad­ven­tures of Su­per­man 1993-1997 Rat­ing: 10 Many an ac­tress has donned the press pass of this ink-stained idol, who holds her own against mild-man­nered co-worker Clark Kent. What’s great about ABC’s Lois & Clark is that by the very na­ture of its ti­tle, Lois is thought of as an equal to Dean Cain’s Man of Steel (or at least his al­ter ego). In the first episode, she tries to dis­arm a bomb she finds while in­ves­ti­gat­ing a story. In the fi­nal sea­son, she gets pro­moted to edi­tor of the Daily Planet, mak­ing her Clark’s boss.

JANE CRAIG (HOLLY HUNTER) Broad­cast News 1987 Rat­ing: 10 Some­where dur­ing James L. Brooks’s snarky, be­hind-thescenes look at the TV news in­dus­try, a net­work exec stands in awe at the fast-talk­ing whirl­wind that is Hunter’s ace pro­ducer when she’s break­ing a story. He had no idea she was this good. Re­ally? Ev­ery­one else did. Sure, Jane may be a hot mess in some scenes, but she is an un­apolo­get­i­cally hon­est re­porter who also hap­pens to know ex­actly when to call a ro­mance that’s not work­ing. And we think her morn­ing cry­ing fits are meant to be cathar­tic.

ALI­CIA CLARK (GLENN CLOSE) The Pa­per 1994 Rat­ing: 8 There are many all-too-real as­pects of di­rec­tor Ron Howard’s de­pic­tion of the fast-paced life of news peo­ple at a scrappy New York daily, de­spite its pre-In­ter­net pre­mière. One is Ali­cia, who is forced into a role as a strict bud­get-min­der who clashes with Michael Keaton’s metro edi­tor. She even stresses over cir­cu­la­tion num­bers when she’s in a hos­pi­tal bed af­ter suf­fer­ing a gun­shot wound (and no way she’s shar­ing her copy of the pa­per with her nurse).

MUR­PHY BROWN (CANDICE BER­GEN) Mur­phy Brown 1988-1998 Rat­ing: 10 Multi-Emmy win­ner Ber­gen’s sea­soned in­ves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ist and news an­chor picks up Mary Richards’ em­pow­er­ment ba­ton. A char­ac­ter just as ac­com­plished as any man in the field (and pos­si­bly just as dam­aged; she’s also a re­cov­er­ing al­co­holic and smoker), Mur­phy has no qualms about tak­ing on ev­ery­one from real-life politi­cians to the mul­ti­tude of sec­re­taries who couldn’t keep up with her de­mands. She did, fa­mously, suc­cumb to the clas­sic pit­fall of be­com­ing the story.

But the blame there goes to then-vice-pres­i­dent Dan Quayle, who said her sin­gle par­ent­ing was “mock­ing the im­por­tance of fa­thers.”

RORY GIL­MORE (ALEXIS BLEDEL) Gil­more Girls 2000-2007, Net­flix re­vival 2016 Rat­ing: 4 In the show’s orig­i­nal run, Rory is edi­tor of her col­lege news­pa­per and prophetic enough to cover Barack Obama’s cam­paign trail. But Rory gets cocky some­where be­tween the se­ries’ end­ing and Net­flix’s four-episode re­vival. Af­ter she has a small piece in The New Yorker, she doesn’t bother to pre­pare for job in­ter­views, is fine sleep­ing with a source (this one, ap­par­ently, is dressed as a Wook­iee), and be­lieves her mere pres­ence is enough to make her tiny city jour­nal thrive.

DELLA FRYE (RACHEL McA­DAMS) State of Play 2009 Rat­ing: 10 McA­dams’ in­trepid re­porter may not be as sea­soned as Rus­sell Crowe’s Cal McAf­frey when she’s brought on to as­sist in his re­search of a sus­pi­cious death. But she should not be tri­fled with just be­cause she’s spent most of her ca­reer blog­ging — and she proves it by seek­ing out her own leads in the case. It’s fit­ting that McA­dams would go on to por­tray an ac­tual, stone-cold fe­male jour­nal­ist in the Os­car-win­ning film Spot­light.

MacKEN­ZIE McHALE (EMILY MOR­TIMER), MAG­GIE JOR­DAN (ALI­SON PILL) AND SLOAN SABBITH (OLIVIA MUNN) The Newsroom 2012-2014 Rat­ing: 6 Few things irked the fans of Aaron Sorkin’s HBO show more than his de­pic­tion of fe­male jour­nal­ists. MacKen­zie deeply wants to le­git­imize her show, but she gets de­railed by some­thing as in­nocu­ous as her Wikipedia list­ing hav­ing the wrong alma mater.

Mag­gie encounters some se­ri­ous de­mons, but her dis­trac­tions are more fre­quently love-life re­lated. That leaves Munn’s fi­nan­cial whiz who, per­haps be­cause of the ac­tress’s gift for the show’s rapid-fire di­a­logue, can ex­plain the sub­prime mort­gage cri­sis and have no fear of ques­tion­ing author­ity.

ZOE BARNES (KATE MARA) House of Cards 2013-present Rat­ing: 1 This cub re­porter so badly wants to be in the big league. Although Zoe is en­ter­pris­ing enough to seize an op­por­tu­nity when he (Kevin Spacey’s Machi­avel­lian Frank Un­der­wood) is pre­sented, she is too gullible for the job. Zoe is a cau­tion­ary tale for cov­er­ing the murky po­lit­i­cal world: Don’t sleep with a source, and don’t hide in­for­ma­tion about a po­ten­tial mur­der from the team­mates on the piece. And if you do hap­pen to do those things? Don’t meet said un­scrupu­lous source late at night at a sub­way stop and delete any ev­i­dence of your re­la­tion­ship.

CAR­RIE BRAD­SHAW (SARAH JES­SICA PARKER) Sex and the City 1998-2004 Rat­ing: 8 This HBO se­ries based on Can­dace Bush­nell’s dat­ing col­umns may have kick-started as many jour­nal­ism grads’ moves to New York as it did fash­ion trends. Yes, Car­rie wasn’t writ­ing hard­hit­ting ex­posés. And the idea that she earned $4 a word while free­lanc­ing for Vogue still makes real jour­nal­ists laugh-cry. But Sex and the City did doc­u­ment the ebbs and flows of fe­male friend­ships in a way that we couldn’t help but won­der has ever been done as suc­cess­fully be­fore.


Sex and the City’s Car­rie Brad­shaw (Sarah Jes­sica Parker) wasn’t a hard-hit­ting jour­nal­ist, but she made big bucks for her re­lat­able col­umns on love, friend­ship and sex.

Mary Tyler Moore

Holly Hunter

Candice Ber­gen

Alexis Bledel

Rachel McA­dams

Kate Mara

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