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10 Reasons Why I Heart DQ (And You Should, Too)

02/26/2015 03:17 pm ET | Updated Apr 28, 2015

One day last June, the desire to watch Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman came to me in a flash. I have no idea why. Maybe I was thinking about putting my hair in a top-bun, or maybe I was visited by an angel. Some things we'll never know. 8 months later, I am on the 7th and final season and am starting to think about what it all means. This now obscure (no thanks to you, Netflix) show about a lady doctor in 1867 Colorado Springs was once so beloved that its 1998 cancellation inspired a full on "Save Dr. Quinn" campaign, which forced CBS to produce two Dr. Quinn films. I totally get it. There are so many, many things to love about this show. But the thing I love the most is DQ herself. Here's why:

She's fucking fearless.
When DQ can't find doctor work in closed-minded Boston, she up and moves to the Colorado territory as a lone, unmarried woman because THAT'S HOW BAD SHE WANTS TO DO GOOD. No phones, no email. Only Horace, the town's golden-hearted half-wit telegraph operator to bring news of home. And homesickness is the least of her troubles. Over the next 6 seasons, DQ confronts countless daunting medical quandaries, the entire town on a variety of social and racial issues, the army, the Klan, 3 different Native American tribes, corrupt miners, 2 different bands of outlaws, her overbearing mother, over formerly-nice-but-now-overbearing uncle, a legion of condescending male medical colleagues, a stampede of cattle, wild horses, buffalo, foreclosure, many superhuman tasks while pregnant and ultimately the miracle of birth, and 3 men who attempt to assassinate president Grant. The woman is nothing shy of a fortress.

She's generous to a fault.
Three days into DQ's stint in the wild (she's never before been without servants to dress her) one of her patients DIES OF A SNAKE BITE and bequeaths DQ her 3 blond children with her dying breath. And that is just the first HALF of the pilot. Over the next 6 seasons, DQ adopts no less than 20 children (she gives many of them back), feeds and shelters anyone who crosses her path regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, or creed, and performs medicine on hundreds upon thousands of people who pay her in things like pie and table repairs. In short, she is the Mother Teresa of the 19th century.

She takes rejection like a champ.
It is easy to forget in later seasons when the whole town sees DQ through rose-colored glasses how she first has to fight like a rip-roaring tigress to gain a foothold in simple Colorado Springs. Not only will the illiterate townsfolk not accept that she is doctor, they won't rent her a space to practice, or even a house to live in all because she is a woman. She actually has to let Jake the barber/mayor yank out one of her teeth to gain the trust of the locals, many of whom fear books, and it is another few seasons before the town finally grudgingly admits that books aren't so bad and neither are lady doctors and accepts that she is there to stay. Obviously when they do it feels like rainbows.

She's extremely fair.
One of my real soft spots for DQ is that she is both extremely judgmental and extremely open-minded at the same time. She has an opinion about EVERYTHING and really likes to be IN CHARGE; she simply cannot help but butt into other people's business, which annoys the shit out of the townsfolk of Colorado Springs/ the army/ the Cheyenne tribal leaders at first. But eventually her hyper-logical Volcan brain wears them all down, and one by one they are forced to cede to her greatness because she is ALWAYS ON THE SIDE OF THE RIGHT. She does not care if the solution comes from a bottle or from the bark of a willow tree SO LONG AS IT BREAKS THE FEVER. She is as omnipresent and neutral as life itself.

She's kind.
People are constantly flinging their angry, unresolved-childhood, woman-hating shit at DQ because she dares to shine. And while she never fails to stand up for herself and HANDLE IT, she always takes the highroad. Even though she is smarter, more capable, more dexterous, more logical, more fair, more educated, more open-minded, better groomed, and just better than all the meanies she interacts with, she never sinks to their level and always treats them with respect even as they threaten to take away her husband/homestead/children/medical license/friends/burn her. Why? Because she's a saint. Also, because she will probably have to operate on them at some point and she can't afford another mal-practice suit after what happened in season 5. But mostly because she has a heart as wide as the Colorado plains.

She's super pretty...and couldn't give less of a fuck.
If DQ and Princess Leia ever enter into a braid-off, I seriously hope the judges take the following into account: a) Princess Leia has royal hairdressers b) Princess Leia lives in space where the air is clean and gravity can't take a toll on her locks and c) DQ DOES IT ALL HERSELF IN A DUSTY HOMESTEAD WITHOUT CONDITIONER OR MIRRORS OR ANYTHING BUT RIBBONS AND A FINE-TOOTHED COMB. Not that this matters, because DQ only does her hair that way to be PRACTICAL so that she can focus on healing every troubled soul on this earth. Seriously, she only brushes her hair to get out her ANXIETY. Because she knows that that kind of beauty is only SKIN DEEP and doesn't last and she's all about highly substantial things like beauty of the heart and child adopting.

Even though she's absurdly smart, she cares more about character.
Although she herself doesn't give a shit about how gorgeous/ talented she is, DQ can't help that she is the most eligible maiden wherever she goes. Over the course of the show, she is proposed to by no less than 4 men, engaged to 3 (4 if you count both of her engagements to Sully) and by my count, 10 profess their love to her. The final roster of admirers includes a slew of drunk patients, Sully, a reverend, 2 doctors, and a super rich miner/ sheriff (You're right. She is the Bachelorette of 1867). But although she values intelligence and success, she ultimately remains true to her connection with Sully because he's the most honorable man she knows. It has absolutely nothing to do with his baby blues or how good he looks in buckskin and everything to do with his rad moral compass.

She gets that she doesn't get everything.

It goes without saying that a show about a lady doctor in 1867 is about crossing gender lines. What is less obvious is that the mirror has two faces, and that a man is actually the emotional bedrock of the show and DQ's life. The only person to ever walk the earth who is more emotionally in tune than Sully is Cheryl Strayed, and I honestly think she might be Sully reincarnated. Sully has suffered and survived a staggering amount of loss for one human--orphaned as a young child, then nearly killed while working in a mine, then used for capital gains as a sniper in the Civil War, then widowered (his first wife Abigail dies while having their daughter, Hannah), then adopted by the Cheyenne only to lose them in a gruesome two-parter about the battle of Washita-- so while DQ views everything as black and white, Sully tends to have a more nuanced perspective. DQ and the children and his wolf would be lost without him.

Even though she's tough as nails, she's a total sweetheart.
Not only is Sully the emotional lodestone of Colorodo Springs, he is also the babe. I have never seen a serious show where the man is exhibited the way that Sully is, and I fucking love it. DQ is super prudish and often gets mad at Sully for such presumptions as reading Walt Witman out loud because it's too arousing (don't worry, she comes around by the time Walt visits Colorado Springs in Season 5) so most of the action pre-wedding is metaphorical--DQ and Sully literally jump off a cliff together when they get engaged, that sort of thing. When they finally get around to doing the deed (which they do ON A MOVING TRAIN on a bed that Sully carved with his two sinewy hands) it's a big deal. And DQ is all about it which is fucking adorable because SHE IS THE MOST INDEPENDENT WOMAN. EVER. And even she has a soft side that gets girlish and distracted when a hunky dude is thrown in the mix.

She trusts herself.
Not all of DQ's unshakable confidence is derived from her incredible medical prowess, but most of it is. Over the course of the series, she performs brain surgery, plastic surgery, intubation, vaccinations, thousands of stitches, bone resetting, lung draining, fluid draining, a mastectomy, and also deals with the likes of Hepatitis, Tuberculosis, Fevers, Cancer, Staff Infections, PTSD, Typhus, Tetanus, The Grip, The Influenza, The Rabies, and The Diphtheria all on a wooden table. She also helps birth 3 babies and a cow baby, and she herself gives birth under a tree (obviously Sully's there ready with open heart and hands). But she's also just a closer in general; she thinks everything through and never loses faith that where there's a will there's a way. Her belief is so powerful that it inspires all of Colorado Springs to be better and also me, 148 years down the road.