Murphy, Alicia and Diane: Images of Powerful Women
Sadly, Alicia Florrick’s journey on The Good Wife has come to an end. But her evolving image, from the frightened lawyer-turned-spouse standing by her sleazy man to the courageous and confident woman, will stay with us. Like Murphy Brown from thirty years ago, Alicia’s character--powerful and vulnerable and endearing and evolving, all at the same time--showed everyone not only who we really are, but also what we can do and become. (We are still trying to get our heads around Alicia's betrayal of Diane in the series finale. Why was that necessary?)
We all wanted to be Murphy Brown, a fictional journalist played by Candice Bergen in a TV show that ran for 10 years beginning in 1988. She was successful in a male-dominated profession. She didn’t care what others thought of her. She was a passionate, fearless, original, complicated, feisty, indelicate, self-confident, aggressive woman---a bit of a brat, a bit of a bitch, but lovable and irresistible too. Remember when Murphy’s former secretaries kidnapped her for ransom, but nobody paid? And who can forget the brouhaha when VP Dan Quayle lost his cool because Murphy, who was single, got pregnant and had a baby?!
Though Murphy seemed not to care what other people thought from the get go, Alicia had to learn that lesson. When she did, she found the freedom both professionally and personally to find her own way. Her colleague, Diane, was her own person from the beginning. She was the ideal executive: tough, straight talking, confrontational but fair, anticipating and out-strategizing on many occasions her constantly conspiring male colleagues. Like Murphy, Alicia and Diane grappled with the issues of their day—national security, abortion, gay rights, surveillance. Murphy was a role model when we were younger. Alicia and Diane were, in many ways, the women we hoped we had become.
And they had style. Murphy’s clothes with the huge shoulders seem a little funny now, but she definitely understood that having a certain look was critical to her success. She adopted leather jackets and baseball caps on the weekend --and that was new. Alicia’s clothes and shoes evolved with her, reflecting the passive spouse in the beginning, and the confident good girl with a little bit of bad (and a slinky red dress) in the end. And we really loved Diane’s wardrobe. A blue leather suit! Animal fabrics! Big, bold jewelry. Every week, something to drool over. Her clothes said “I am in charge” without having to say a word.
We look forward to seeing what characters our Millennial women will look to as they create their own images. Alicia and Diane are not a bad place to start.