In honour of International Women’s Day, I’ve decided to put my misogyny aside and in addition to listing my favourite TV wingmen I thought I’d discuss my ten favourite potential wingwomen from television shows too.
Women often confuse me (how can it possibly take that long to pee, and why do they need to screech so loudly on the night bus?) but there are some good ones, and they do have some good points. Like boobs.
Robin Scherbatsky (Cobie Smulders), How I Met Your Mother
Robin proved to be a much better bro for Barney than Ted- although let’s face it, who isn’t a better wingperson than Ted?- in ‘Zip, Zip, Zip’. She actually suits up for one thing, and is buckets of fun. More recently she was also the one who introduced Barney to Nora, encouraged him to ask her out and made sure that he had her number.
Her fondness for guns, drinking and cigars helps her to bond with men, and she’s proved to be a competent wingwoman for her best friend Lily. When they needed to sneak into a prom so that Lily could hear her prospective wedding band playing, Robin slutted up and found them geeky teenage dates so that they’d actually get into the school gym.
She even kissed Lily to allay her worries about not being ready to marry Marshall because she hadn’t done everything that she wanted to do with her life, including a foray into lesbianism. And surely cheering your friends up, whether it’s through macking on them or playing laser tag with them, is part of being an excellent wingwoman?
Donnatella Moss (Janel Moloney), The West Wing
Donna scammed her way into her job with Josh Lyman when he was working on the Bartlet campaign, and a good wingperson should definitely be able to lie and cheat deftly. She’s very capable, in the two-parter ’20 Hours in America’ when Josh, Donna and Toby (the Communications Director) get left behind by the motorcade and have to travel through rural Indiana alone, she’s the savvy one, and without her it seems doubtful that the others would ever have returned to the White House.
She looks after Josh- being attuned to his moods, always knowing when he’s coming back (because she can see out of the window), refusing to let him work too hard after he gets shot, joking with him and cheering him up- and she also pushes him to date. It’s at her urging that he gathers his rosebuds while he may and asks out Joey Lucas, and she always seemed supportive of his relationship with Amy. In fact Amy and Donna have some of my very favourite interaction on the show, especially the moment when Donna finally cracks and admits that Josh was hurt by something that Amy said- but also gives her some important insight into Josh’s psyche.
Donna has much more common sense than most of her friends and colleagues, so she’d be less likely to make their bad wingperson mistakes. When she asks Josh to talk her up to her crush Jack Reese (Christian Slater) he reveals various embarrassing anecdotes about her to Jack, cluelessly confused as to why she’s annoyed because he’s adamant that they’re stories that would have made him like her. Josh might have complained about the revolving door of gomers that she dated, but I don’t think that Donna had bad taste in men- plus the calibre of guys who she hung out with on a daily basis was pretty decent.
And being able to parade pretty men in front of you at a moment’s notice is definitely an important requirement for the ideal wingwoman.
Penny (Kaley Cuoco), The Big Bang Theory
Despite not having a last name, Penny is definitely a fully realised character. Unlike her geeky neighbours, Sheldon and Leonard, and their best friends, Howard and Raj, Penny is sociable, chatty and- crucially- doesn’t have a problem speaking to women. Even when she’s sober. She likes drinking, dancing, eating other people’s food and lost weekends of casual sex- all of which seem to match the criteria for the perfect wingwoman.
By adding Amy (Sheldon’s friend who is a girl but isn’t his girlfriend) and Bernadette (Howard’s actual girlfriend, however inexplicable that may seem) to the cast, the show has further fleshed out Penny’s character by showing her relationships with women. Although she’s sometimes put off by Amy’s frankness, Penny is definitely a kind and caring friend to other females.
She’s also attempted to be a good wingwoman to Sheldon (against his will) in trying to get him together with Amy. She’s at least nixed their plan to have a child together without sexual intercourse by telling on him to his mother. Even if he won’t let her interfere in his (non-existent) love life, she has at least had the chance to go shopping with him and pick out outfits for him, which is certainly a step.
And after spending so much time with Howard, who can be super creepy at times, she must certainly have finely tuned her freak-dar. A friend who you can trust indubitably when they tell you that someone ought to be avoided at all costs is a useful tool indeed.
Hannah Burley (Katheryn Winnick), Bones
I really liked Seeley Booth’s girlfriend Hannah, but apparently I’m in the minority. She’s beautiful, intelligent and driven- and made a real effort to bond with both his son Parker (despite being worried about doing so) and Booth’s partner, friend and former love interest Temperance Brennan.
Despite friendly appearances her relationship with Temperance must have been strained, especially once she learnt that Temperance was in love with Booth. Nonetheless Hannah rose above it and refused to let it ruin things for her with either Seeley or Temperance. She and Temperance had lots of fun drinking together (Temperance seemed to heartily admire Hannah’s appreciation for alcohol), and she even tried to find a guy for Temperance. It didn’t turn out that well as he was only interested in a threesome with both women, but it’s the thought that counts.
Hannah’s kindness and sensitivity to Temperance, a lovely but sometimes difficult women, definitely made her a good friend. Her fun side and thirst for adventure might not have made her the ideal match for Booth (she told him that she’s just not the marrying kind), but it would definitely make her a better wingwoman.
Sophie Devereaux (Gina Bellman), Leverage
Sophie is the incredibly talented grifter of Nate’s group of con artists and thieves. She’s adept at creating false personas and fake names- and able to expertly imitate the accents to go with them- in fact Sophie isn’t even her real name. While this skill (and being a polyglot) is invaluable when the team are conning their marks (in order to right a wrong, Robin Hood style), I feel it would come in just as handy in a bar. Spinning believable yarns isn’t only entertaining, it means that you can shake off any weirdos bothering you without them being able to track you down again. Plus her ability to essentially hypnotise people means that she can get people to buy you drinks- she even got tough guy Elliot to make her tea, after all.
Although Sophie is admittedly a liar and a thief (and a very good one at that) she’s not a bad person. She genuinely cares about all the members of their little group, and she often has to urge Nate to consider their issues, especially when he falls into one of his darker moods. She’s also been very supportive of Nate- and worries about his drinking.
She’s also functioned as a bit of a mentor to cat-burglar Parker, who had an abusive and difficult childhood. Sophie’s built up Parker’s confidence and helped her to develop her social skills, so much that Parker can now be counted on to play a role proficiently as part of the con, rather than simply sticking to the stealing. And helping a friend to find their confidence is absolutely part of being a good wingwoman.
Lisa Braeden (Cindy Sampson), Supernatural
Supernatural is a show about two brothers, and as such it’s not necessarily brilliant at depicting women. Lisa’s gone from being a one-night stand from years ago that Dean ended up revisiting (and then wondering if he was the father of her child) to a rather important part of season six.
It was revealed in ‘Dream a Little Dream of Me’ that domestic bliss with Lisa and her son Ben was Dean’s secret dream. When he thought the world was going to end, he went to her. And when the world didn’t end, Dean honoured the promise that he’d made to Sam, that he’d go live the apple pie life with Lisa. He wasn’t great at it- he was grieving his brother, drinking far too much and paranoid about monsters- but he did his best. When Sam came back, Lisa and Dean tried to make it work long-distance, but their strained relationship was ruined when Dean (temporarily) became a vampire and hurt Ben.
Although Lisa has become an important part of Dean’s life and an important character in her own right, she still only really exists in relation to Dean- as an almost wife, and as a mother. But she’s more than that. She’s a beautiful, capable, very bendy woman- and in ‘The Kids are Alright’ she’s obviously the coolest of her friends. (They’re all very impressed with the Dean.) I honestly think that she’d be a lot of fun to hang out with- she loves beer, has an excellent eye for good-looking men and gives unbelievably rational advice. Plus she raised a wonderful kid in Ben, which not only suggests that she’s awesome, but that she might have an endless supply of cake and candy.
Blair Waldorf (Leighton Meester), Gossip Girl
Blair is almost always embroiled in complicated schemes, and would certainly be more than capable of re-organising people’s love lives if doing so suited her. Although these schemes sometimes blow up in her face, the fallout tends to be worse for her so it’s probably better to be the friend of a Queen Bee type than to be her.
Despite her seeming nastiness, Blair is deep-down a very caring person who will go out of her way for her friends, such as Serena. While she might sometimes get exasperated with Serena’s romantic drama (her eternal refusal to choose between Nate and Dan, or embarking on a relationship with her ex-teacher and ex-con Ben whom Serena’s mother framed), she does give useful and supportive advice, albeit not necessarily couched in the kindest terms.
Although sometimes her wingwoman-ing isn’t done with the best of intentions, such as her convincing Raina that Chuck is a good guy- which she was ultimately doing to further one of Chuck’s business plans, she’s clearly got the skills. And all the drama of Chuck and Blair’s convoluted relationship, and her decision to focus on her career, means that she’s become better at providing emotional support. She’d clearly be the ideal wingwoman for Dan, which is just another reason why they shouldn’t make out with each other. Ever.
Marcy Runkle (Pamela Adlon), Californication
Despite her small stature, Marcy is tons of fun. It’s probably all the sex, drugs, drink and Rick Springfield. Like most of the Californication characters Marcy isn’t afraid to speak her mind, and her brashness can be hilarious. She’s clearly a good friend to Karen and Hank, and even to her soon-to-be-ex-husband Charlie. Not only does she bring the fun in, but she does genuinely listen to them and try to help them. Although she may have decided that having sex with women is too much hassle,
“It’s like disconnecting a bomb. I mean, there’s all these wires and all down there, who knows which one you’re supposed to cross, or pull… plus: the studies show that the female orgasm is like 99% mental – who has time for that!”
Marcy is bisexual, which makes her a helpfully versatile wingwoman, and with the amount of biphobia I’ve heard of late I especially think Marcy ought to be celebrated as an archetypal wingwoman.
Jennifer Lindley (Michelle Williams), Dawson’s Creek
As the bad girl next door who grew up too fast, Jen has pretty much seen it all. It’s almost impossible to shock her, and she was a welcome voice of hedonism amongst all of Dawson’s angsting, even if her sexual analogies involved a bit too much ice cream:
“See, first you have to watch the sundae, admire the sundae, then, just before it’s about to drip, you let your lips lick around the exterior, savoring every inch. You want that sundae to last a long time…but not too long, because then the sundae ends up all over the table instead of in your mouth. But Dawson, if you remember one thing, let it be this…If you don’t get the whipped cream all over your face, you’re not doing it right. You see what I’m saying?”
Jen wasn’t afraid to have fun, and she encouraged her friends to do the same. Throughout the series she became happier with herself as a person and resolved many of her issues, so she got to spend more time playing matchmaker.
Jack might’ve been initially annoyed at her for setting him up with Toby, but her interference eventually resulted in Jack and Toby’s happy relationship- at least until college. This talent she had for setting people up, was sadly echoed in the series finale when she revealed that she was dying and asked Jack to raise her daughter.
Shane McCutcheon (Katherine Moennig), The L Word
If you can’t find yourself a bisexual, an androgynous lesbian is probably the next best thing. Shane managed to attract men who thought that she was a guy- some who recognised her from her time turning tricks (but where she only ever gave handjobs apparently), in addition to Sarah Shahi and Rosanna Arquette. Or at least their characters, Carmen and Cherie. Any woman who can draw the eyes of lesbians while apparently accidentally genderbending, is clearly doing something right.
Her womanising might have made her a bad girlfriend, and scared her off marriage, but it wouldn’t impinge on her ability to be a fabulous wingwoman.
However that whole relationship with Jenny, possibly the most irritating character ever created, makes me worry a bit for her sanity.