Hail, Hail: The TV Bitch is Back!

Where is Amanda Woodward when you need her? What happened to all of TV's mega-bitches?
08/03/2007 03:40 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

TV's dramatic female characters are so damned... wimpy. I've had it with those goody-two-shoes over on Wisteria Lane (seriously, who are you people still watching this show?). And those Grey's Anatomy girls? Enough with the pining and crying and moping already! And don't even get me started on the estrogen-fests over on women's networks like Oxygen and Lifetime. Where is Amanda Woodward when you need her? What happened to all of TV's mega-bitches?

Leave it to bunny-boiling Fatal Attraction femme fatale herself, Glenn Close, to bring back the bitch to prime-time (albeit over on FX). This five-time-Oscar nominee isn't just sassy as uber-lawyer Patty Hewes on the dark, new drama Damages. She's downright nasty! And it's so refreshing. I love watching her manipulate and back-stab, harass and even get a little violent. (Oh, how I hated her when it was revealed she killed the dog of her witness just to get her good and scared of the guy she's prosecuting -- but how great is that?!) She's despicable, yea, but she's a hell of a lot more interesting than all the McLawyers, McDoctors and McHousewives on every other drama. So what if she throws morale out the window and most definitely breaks the ethical codes between attorney and client? She gets the job done and you root for her to win, consequences be damned. Or maybe you root for her to fail? Either way, it's entertaining stuff.

There's nothing like a good anti-hero to love/hate, so why has it been so long since we've seen a nasty lady worthy of a tête-à-tête with Alexis Morell Carrington Colby Dexter Rowan (imagine the war that'd ensue between Patty Hewes and Dynasty's nastiest in, say, an alimony case)? Is it that TV producers can't stand to see their female characters as anything but -- shudder -- "likable"?

Men certainly don't have that problem. Look at all the great tragically flawed assholes out there: Michael Chiklis' corrupt cop Vic Mackey on The Shield; Hugh Laurie's druggie doctor House; Dennis Leary's lyin', cheatin,' abusin' fireman on Rescue Me...Tony Soprano. These are the best characters on television. All of them men.

Women are just as capable as being horrible human beings, but the closest we get is "flawed" like Mariska Hargitay's cop-with-issues on Law & Order: SVU (loaded with baggage, but you totally sympathize with her); Kyra Sedgwick's cop-with-issues (again!) on The Closer (she's a neurotic mess, but look how she cries and scarfs candy under pressure). These are great female characters, but to qualify as an anti-hero, you need to be hated just a little.

Sure, you can hate characters like the aforementioned Housewives and Grey's girls, but the scorn is accidental, merely a result of their cloying female stereotypes -- they're either overly introspective (if there's one more show with a female voice over, so help me... ), or just overly dramatic idiots who are incapable of a rational decision when a man is in the room. Yuck. Those are not the women I want representing my gender, but more importantly, those are not the characters I want to watch in my TV dramas. Bring on the bitches!

We need more characters like Jacqueline Bisset's guest turn as James on Nip/Tuck (doesn't get much darker than an organ-harvesting pimp -- in fabulous shoes, no less!) Or on next season's Dexter (hurry back!) could they please introduce a female serial killer just as bloodthirsty as our hero, but without that troublesome "conscience?"

And, yes, more of Glenn Close being horrible, awful and wonderful on Damages. She's given me a new character truly worthy of my scorn. I'll be tuning in to love/hate her every week.