Once upon a time, we had a raft of lovable female leads on our TV screens, but they all seemed to follow a very particular path.
There were the straitlaced heroes, the love interests and the funny yet likeable and perfectly put together ideals of what a lady should be – the type of character that women wanted to be and men wanted to be with.
There was never anything wrong with these characters of course, but there was always just a very similar thread of perfection running through all of them and the story-lines that they brought to life on screen.
However, over the last few years we have begun to see a subtle and intriguing change in the way women are portrayed on the small screen, no doubt thanks to a broadening range of TV projects being commissioned across streaming services and increasingly diverse writer’s rooms.
One of the strongest new character iterations to emerge from this new world of TV is that of the “broken woman”. And just like the dark and delicious dramas she tends to frequent, we can’t get enough of her.
Now, you may want to jump straight to the idea that TV’s new “broken woman” is a character to be pitted, one that needs to be put back together with her strongest type of glue or even a figure that symbolises there may be something wrong with the viewers themselves. After all, why are we all suddenly so riveted by the idea of watching “depressed” women work through their hardships on screen?
But in this case, a broken woman is just as adept at breaking through stereotypes and barriers as she is at allowing her whole range of emotion to show on screen.
It’s a character trait that has been sprinkled through the shows we have become addicted to, especially over the last year.
Trailer: Amy Adams is TV’s new ‘broken woman’ in Sharp Objects
From the ongoing twisted journey of Piper and her fellow inmates in Orange is the New Black, to Vida‘s Emma and her struggles with closeted sexuality and family shame, to Glow’s adulterous and desperate for love Ruth, we appear to like our female leads to be in pieces before we commit to their stories.
The three prime examples of this trend, however, lie within two of the most talked-about female-driven shows in recent times, Big Little Lies and Top of the Lake, and with the addition of Foxtel’s prestigious new drama, Sharp Objects, it’s a trend that shows no sign of slowing down.
Big Little Lies was undoubtedly the break-out TV hit of 2017, and while many would like to trace its success back to the all-star cast or the engrossing source material, the allure actually ran so much deeper than that.
While watching that series, many viewers became quickly enamoured with Nicole Kidman’s Celeste. From the outset she appeared to be the epitome of a perfect woman leading a perfect life, with her gorgeous children, her Californian mansion, her tailored wardrobe and her handsome husband. Of course, anyone who has watched that award-winning drama knows that all of that perfection quickly comes tumbling down, but it’s not the end of her picture-perfect home that makes Celeste so appealing.