• FemmeCritic


Updated: Aug 10, 2018

Thank the Lord, we seem to be in yet another TV renaissance of #StrongFemaleLeads. But this ain't our first rodeo, young ladies... Check out these classic kick-ass TV chicks.

Charlie's Angels
Kate Jackson, Farrah Fawcett & Jaclyn Smith (Time-Life)


This is not a mock-up. #CharliesAngels actually made the cover of Time Magazine after premiering in the Fall of 1976. (Wow, was Time only $1 back then?) To say the show exploded into a pop-culture phenomenon rivaling the Kardashians would vastly underestimate their influence.

Starring Farrah Fawcett-Majors, Kate Jackson and Jaclyn Smith as a close-knit team of private investigators, the ABC TV hit was something basically unheard of at the time: a female-driven action-adventure show that passed #TheBechdelTest with flying colors. Though they got their original assignments from the unseen Charlie, these former cops were independent women who were actually good friends and used their smarts and skills to nab the bad guys.

REBOOT? The movie series more than measured up in my opinion, but the TV versions have been dreadful.


Originally created by two women and shepherded by one very woke man, the CBS cop show #CagneyandLacey won 10 Emmys over the course of its six critically-acclaimed seasons. Lauded for its depiction of female friendship and its thoughtful liberal take on the social issues of the '80s, Cagney (Sharon Gless, for most of the series) and Lacey (Tyne Daly) fought, made up and got up in each others' personal business -- which included breast cancer, sexual harrassment and alcoholism -- in their restroom haven at the 16th precinct, affectionately nicknamed "The Jane."

REBOOT? Recently tried and failed to get a series order at CBS.

Tyne Daly & Sharon Gless
Tyne Daly & Sharon Gless (Orion/CBS)


A spinoff of the syndicated action-adventure series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, #XenaWarriorPrincess soon outshone its progenitor, thanks to it's uber-strong female leads, Lucy Lawless, and Renee O'Connor, who played Xena's protege, partner (and subtextual love interest) Gabrielle. From '95 to '01, this historical fantasy series cemented its place in the pop-culture zeitgeist, as Xena battled her way through the ancient world, always fighting on the side of the "greater good," with bestie Gabrielle by her side.

REBOOT? In development with a male showrunner in 2016-17, NBC cancelled its plans for a new Xena, though it was set to feature Xena and Gabrielle as a real lesbian couple.

Angie Dickinson
Angie Dickinson in "Police Woman" (Wikimedia Commons)


Arguably, Angie Dickinson was American TV's first truly tough chick -- at least, the first to star in her own crime series. And though she was blonde and fairly glamarous, Dickinson won a Golden Globe and a trio of Emmy nods for her gritty portrayal of Sergeant Pepper Anderson, part of a special LAPD undercover squad that worked its way into criminal conspiracies to trap the bad guys. Charlie's Angels definitely trod similar ground, with a much lighter Spelling-Goldberg tone. Still, this well-regarded mid-'70s series was popular and aired for four seasons on NBC.

REBOOT? Nope. And with a female writer/showrunner, a modern version could definitely be a hit.


The #BionicWoman, played by the lovely Lindsay Wagner, kicked some serious ass. Featuring a character spunoff from The Six Million Dollar Man, Jaime Sommers rocked a bionic ear, arm and legs, plus she cared for the bionic dog, Max, all while keeping up her cover as a middle-school teacher in Ojai, California (BTW, I somehow remembered all that without looking it up). The Bionic Woman had her own comic book, board game, action figure and lunch box, but lasted just two short seasons on ABC (from '76-'78), and a couple of reunion TV movies.

REBOOT? Yep, in 2007, and despite good reviews, it was doomed by the '08 Writers Strike.