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Some of my favorite television shows are those set in the workplace.  I love getting a sneak peek into worlds I haven’t experienced. And, since I haven’t worked regularly in an office for many years, I’m fascinated by the dynamics between the characters.  Now, I know this is fiction. A lawyer or editor on a TV show is going to be exaggerated, dramatized, too snarky or silly or just plain scary (like Glenn Close’s character on Damage). We are looking for entertainment and I get that.  The female characters on my best of list, are strong, yet usually conflicted (aren’t we all?).  They are savvy, a tad quirky, ambitious, passionate and great at their jobs. They might not always be good people, but sometimes bad can good.   I love watching these women at work, navigating their particular professional corners of the world.

These are the television career women that I find the most compelling, the most interesting, the most watchable.   I’m not Alessandra Stanley of the New York Times so critiquing their acting or the overall quality of their shows isn’t my intent.  Although I do believe there are good, even great, shows on this list (okay, maybe not Lipstick Jungle. Strike that, that was a guilty pleasure of mine).

Politics/Public Service

C.J. Cregg (played by Allison Janey) on The West Wing.  White House Press Secretary.

Leslie Knope (played by Amy Poehler) on Parks & Recreation.  City Hall Staffer/Councilwoman (recalled!)

Law & Order

Brenda Lee Johnson (played by Kiera Sedgwick) on The Closer.  Major Crimes Deputy Chief.

Miss Marple (played by many actresses, but I most enjoy Julia McKenzie) on Miss Marple.

Alicia Florrick (played by Julianna Margulies) on The Good Wife.

Sydney Bristow (played by Jennifer Garner) on Alias.

Jessica Fletcher (played by Angela Landsbury) on Murder, She Wrote. Novelist and Amateur Sleuth.

Patty Hewes (played by Glenn Close) on Damages.  Attorney.

Media & Entertainment

Murphy Brown (played by Candice Bergen) on Murphy Brown

Liz Lemon (played by Tina Fey) on 30 Rock.  Head writer of a sketch comedy show.

Peggy Olson (played by Elisabeth Moss) on Mad Men.  Creative copywriter.

Wendy Healy (played by Brooke Shields) on Lipstick Jungle.  Movie studio president.

Betty Suarez (played by America Ferrera) on Ugly Betty.  Assistant who blossoms into a magazine editor.

Julia Houston (played by Debra Messing) on Smash. Playwright/Dramatist.

If I could mashup these characters into my own career profile, I think I’d start with Alicia Florrick because the series opens with her as a stay-at-home mom who jumps back into her career as a lawyer (although in her case, a cheating and corrupt husband was the impetus).  I’d mix in C.J Cregg for her grace, intelligence and media instincts.  Because they are creatives who actually create, they follow their visions turning their ideas into something to be consumed — they conceive, they write, they produce, I’ll add a bit of Julia Houston, Betty Suarez and Wendy Healy.  For her enthusiasm and optimism, Leslie Knope. For her command of every foreign language, her amazing body and ability to kick ass, Sydney Bristow. And, because I simply love her, think I have a spot-on British accent (ha!) and feel my detecting skills are quite honed, Miss Marple.

Who are your favorite career women on television?  What characters would embody your dream career profile?

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Comment by Jennifer Wennig on February 3, 2014 at 6:28pm

Lisa, Thanks for your comment. I haven't watched that show, but am curious to check it out.  Thanks for reading my recent post!

Comment by Jennifer Wennig on February 3, 2014 at 6:26pm

Comment by Meg Jo on February 3, 2014 at 6:23pm
My favorite fictional career woman currently on television would be Emma Swan of Once Upon A Time, because is some what related to a past career, so far from my current career and who wouldn't want Captain Hook And Neal fighting for your attention. ;)

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