Chatting to one of my high school classes a few weeks ago, somehow (I’m not entirely sure how) the conversation came to a point where I mentioned the character Piper from the TV series Charmed. The blank looks I got made me a little bit sad, though I am getting used to the fact that the students I now teach weren’t even born when I was watching awesome shows like Charmed. That being said, my husband is the same age as me and he had never watched Charmed until I got us the first season on DVD for Christmas.
What I took away from that conversation with my students, however, was the feeling that I got when mentioning Piper Halliwell to them. Watching season 1 of Charmed recently helped remind me of the strong influence the Halliwells had on me growing up. I often think of Buffy and Xena as both my favourite TV shows and my role models growing up (I was particularly obsessed with those two shows), but of course those weren’t they only TV series I watched.
I watched a lot of TV shows growing up, and still do. There’s something about the way characters can be developed over multiple episodes that movies just can’t replicate in the span of two hours. Currently I am really enjoying the Marvel Avengers films, as all the sequels are allowing for some nice character development. But if I think back on the really big influencers in my teenage years, they are almost all from TV shows. There’s Buffy, Xena (and Gabrielle of course), Scully, Samantha Carter, Captain Janeway, and of course the Halliwell sisters (Piper being my favourite)… all of them strong female role models.
I did watch stuff that wasn’t fantasy or science fiction, and that didn’t have female leads, but I don’t think they had as big an impact on me as the characters mentioned above. I believe they helped shape who I am today. Xena, the redeemed character constantly haunted by her dark past; Gabrielle, the ever faithful sidekick who would do anything for her friend; Piper, the woman who managed to have a family and a job plus cool supernatural powers; Sam Carter, smart and tough at the same time… I should probably mention Queen Amidala too: even though she’s not from a TV show, when I was 14, the idea of a 14-year-old queen standing up to all the people who wanted to use her as a pawn was pretty awesome.
I do wonder what kind of role models teenage girls have today. There do seem to be a few more options in movies these days, with Bella in Twilight, Katniss in Hunger Games, Tris in Divergent, and so on, but I must admit I don’t know what TV shows there currently are for teens. Are there characters they will remember 15 years from now and realise what a big impact those characters had on them?
Do you have favourite characters or TV shows from your childhood that really stand out in your mind?