Mary Tyler Moore, Mary Richards
Mary Tyler Moore became a feminist icon as Mary Richards. She was the modern women society needed at the time. The influence that Moore had as Mary Richards is reflected in the performances of so many great female sitcom stars today. Tina Fey has said that she developed her acclaimed sitcom “30 Rock” by watching episodes of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” Many nonactresses also said that Ms. Moore — by playing a working single woman with such compassion and brio — inspired their performances in real life.
Even though she's only 8 years old (and a cartoon) in the series, Lisa Simpson has been dishing out wisdom and girl-power lessons for audiences of all ages across the globe since 1989. Lisa made it clear from the start that her gender wouldn't be used against her; she had the brains and talent, regardless. She has always stood up for her beliefs and broke down barriers whenever she could, all while being a kind-hearted little girl with a huge soft spot for animals. And let's not forget, Lisa was also president of the US in "Bart to the Future." A beautiful musician and soul, this tiny icon has inspired multiple generations of women.
Janet Hubert aka OG Aunt Viv
Our favorite Fresh Prince seemed to objectify women left and right on the show, and Aunt Viv did her best to change that. She stood up for herself and her family, and we saw her battle ageism, sexism, and racism. The iconic character was originally played by Janet Hubert, and then Daphne Maxwell Reid took over in the third season of the series. Hubert's portrayal has always stood out, however, and the story behind the swap will only make you appreciate her more.
When Hubert rallied the cast together to collectively ask for a raise, she was met with a pink slip. Of course, as the media loves to do, she was painted as an angry woman far too difficult to work with. The truth is out there, though. She made sure of it.
Amy Poehler, Leslie Knope
Leslie Knope, the Pawnee legislator turned Governor of Indiana turned maybe president, is a major inspiration for women. Sure, she's awkward as hell and rarely says the right thing, but when she nails it, she nails it. In one episode, she says in a speech: "If you want to bake a pie, that’s great. If you want to have a career, that’s great too. Do both, or neither, doesn’t matter. Just don’t judge what someone else has decided to do."
On top of that gem of advice, she puts her female friendships first. Ovaries before broviaries every day.
Gina Rodriguez, Jane the Virgin
Feminism is rooted in the idea of “choice,” and Jane chooses to be a virgin. Although not every character in the show agrees with Jane’s choice to not have sex, they all respect it. Even though Jane's mother chose not to get an abortion, she makes sure her daughter knows that it is fully her choice. In fact, every character makes it clear to Jane that it is her choice. Jane makes her own decisions about her lifestyle and her body.
Adding to this, in Chapter 8, the show makes it clear that the current system of deporting undocumented workers leads to families living in fear, which makes it extremely difficult for their children to live as full citizens. It's a wonderfully intersectional show with one hell of a strong woman in the lead.