How American TV can teach us a thing or two about confidence


I am not much of a TV watcher and when I do watch it, I am usually also looking at something on my phone or tablet or indeed both! However, I do sometimes find a nugget that holds my attention for a full 45 minutes.

Over the last few years, I have found myself being drawn to a particular style of programme which have included The Good Wife, The Good Fight, Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal. For those that don’t know these American series’, the first two are written by Michelle and Robert King and are about lawyers and the latter two are by Shonda Rhimes. Grey’s Anatomy is about a hospital in Seattle and Scandal is set in Washington DC and is a political thriller.

All four of the programmes have strong, female leads who have to deal with challenging situations to do with life such as personal and business relationships, juggling motherhood and career and job achievement and satisfaction.

Shonda Rhimes connected with me, in particular, because her style of writing and her portrayal of characters make instant connections and give the likeability and relatability factors. She believes in the power of women supporting women and, through her characters, it is very clear that the women have each other’s backs (most of the time). Alicia (The Good Wife) was the wife of a US governor who had an affair and her world fell apart. She had to return to work and very quickly became a successful partner in a law firm while holding down a family, career and sorting out her marriage. Behind and with her were other women. Likewise, in The Good Fight, Diane is a senior lawyer who gets caught up in a financial scandal but comes back fighting. She is married, although distanced from her husband, but still has to develop relationships in order to rebuild her career and reputation; again mostly supported by other women. In Grey’s Anatomy, Meredith, having lost her husband in an accident, seems to find comfort and empowerment from her half-sister and her former husband’s sister. Scandal is slightly different in that the lead, Olivia, seems to stand on her own two feet and doesn’t always appear to need anyone to support her. Every so often though she has one female character she turns to.

Shonda has also published a book, ‘Year of Yes’ in which she writes about how saying ‘Yes’ changed her life. In the book she talks about ‘badassery’ - yes, it is a word in the Oxford Dictionary! Badassery is a North American informal term meaning ‘behaviour, characteristics, or actions regarded as formidably impressive’. For me, her lead female characters all display badassery which makes them appear to be confident, credible and inspiring.

These are all fictional characters yet they are amazing role models to empower other women by their actions.

Sophie Edmond