Top Five Strong Women on TV by author Cassondra Windwalker - SciFiNow

Top Five Strong Women on TV by author Cassondra Windwalker

On publication of her page-turning horror-romance novella, Hold My Place, author Cassondra Windwalker talks exclusively to SciFiNow about her top five strong women on TV.

Hold My Place Five Strong Women

‘Strong female protagonist’ is the latest hook the industry loves to paint over its new creations, often with all the finesse of an exhausted day-laborer at the end of an eleven-hour shift. Many times it simply consists of trading out one icon for another in lieu of any real character development: the crone becomes a sage, the harlot becomes a seductress, the shrew becomes a sergeant. When done right, though, strong female protagonist is the last thing that comes to mind. The viewer thinks only, fantastic character.

That’s why it took me longer than I expected to compile this list of some of my favourites from the last year or so. It certainly wasn’t for any lack of viewing material!

5. Away

Credit: Netflix

Although the science fiction drama Away (Netflix 2020) rather painfully crayon-boxed their assortment of cultural stereotypes with this script, Hilary Swank still managed to transcend the tropes in her performance as Commander Emma Green. As a mother who didn’t choose her career over her family but rather shared with her family the sacrifices that career demanded, she triumphed over the false dilemma society tries to impose on so many. Tautly thrilling in spite of its inherent clichés.

4. Katla

Credit: Netflix/Lilja Jonsdottir

Katla (Netflix 2021) has to come with a host of trigger warnings, but its starkly original premise and complex characterizations made it well worth it for me. Sisters Grima (Guðrún Ýr Eyfjörð) and Ása (Íris Tanja Flygenring) represent a stunningly fresh take on the myth of dark and light twins and how we approach both grief and life. Often frightening and always heart-wrenching, this series portrayed not only these sisters but all the women in the tiny community as the real catalysts for the emotional health (or dysfunction) of the men around them. And of course, Katla, the volcano, is the most powerful feminine presence of all.

3. Truth Seekers

Credit: Prime Video

I am SO sad this series is not being continued! Simon Pegg and Nick Frost’s Truth Seekers (Amazon Prime 2020) was a rollicking comedic drama about paranormal investigators that exquisitely executed the balance between fear and hilarity and real human depth. Susie Wokoma positively stole the show (no easy feat when Pegg and Frost are on screen) as the anxiety-riddled and agoraphobic Helen, whose disabilities, though debilitating, cannot diminish her extravagant personality and remarkable skills. It’s delightful to see a supporting character so terrifically and tenderly fleshed out.

2. Post Mortem: Nobody Dies In Skarnes

Credit: Netflix/Lars Olav Dybvig

If you haven’t discovered the 2021 Norwegian Netflix Original Drama Post Mortem: Nobody Dies In Skarnes, you don’t even know how bleak your life is without it. A very dark comedy that somehow manages to make zombie-vampires, or possibly vampire-zombies, perfectly realistic, this inventive take on the genre will have you laughing and gasping by turns. And nothing says strong female protagonist quite like Live Hallengen (Kathrine Thorborg Johansen) actually slaying the patriarchy when her own father tries to burn her alive.

1. Unforgotten

Credit: ITV

My favourite female portrayal I watched last year was Nicola Walker’s DCI Cassie Stuart, in the ITV thriller series Unforgotten (2015-2018.) I’m a huge fan of Walker, precisely because she has such a gift for rendering flawed characters with depth of feeling. It’s not Cassie Stuart’s femininity that makes her irresistible – it’s her humanity. And really, this is the key to writing or portraying any character, be they heroine or villain or passing observer. Not every character needs to be strong. They don’t need to be brave, or unselfish, or powerful, although they will all have moments when they can seize that nature, if only briefly. What they need, and what women genuinely want to see in terms of representation, is simply to be real. To be human. To be whole. And that will be enough.

Cassondra Windwalker’s Hold My Place turns a dark eye toward the unrelenting power of obsession in this haunting, seductive tale perfect for a dark read around Valentine’s Day. Mixing lyrical prose with simmering terror, Hold My Place is a modern gothic horror worthy of Shirley Jackson’s nightmares and Daphne DuMaurier’s dangerous lovers.

Hold My Place is out now from Black Spot Books