I admit it. We’re planning our evening around tonight’s final episode of “Lost.” We’ll order in Thai food, the closest we’ll easily get to cooking Hawaiian.
Like many of its fans, I’ve lost interest in it at times, found the final season weird and sometimes mawkish — CJ Cregg as Jacob’s mom? Really? But one of the things I’ve really loved about “Lost” is its insistence that so many unlikely characters — the morbidly obese Hurley, the rigid and domineering husband Jin, the bitter Sawyer, the criminal Kate, the submissive Sun, the do-gooder Jack, the addict Charlie — each had a crucial role to play in this artificial universe.
I really liked that most of the key female characters — Kate (a previously unknown Canadian actress, Evangeline Lilly), Juliet, Sun, Ana-Lucia and Danielle Rousseau — were strong, wiry, no bullshit women, most fully capable of handling a firearm. (The wimpy, whiny Shannon was killed off early.)
It’s rare, outside of a show based on aliens or cops, to find so many female characters who are consistently physically powerful, emotionally resilient, able to handle everything from sewing up a stranger’s back (Kate) to surviving alone in the jungle (Rousseau.) Who will be the next Kate?
I loved seeing Koreans, an Iraqi, a fat guy and an inter-racial couple play integral roles, becoming leaders and well-loved by their community. “Lost” began six years ago, long before anyone else was casting such diversity. It never felt faux-diverse, as so many of these efforts do, just real.
I’ll miss that community. Many of us now live alone, work at home or are looking for work. We hunger for a lively, funny, quirky posse of our own. We don’t want to run from the smoke monster or shoot a polar bear or have to suffer a plane crash to find one, but the hard-won interdependence of the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 speaks to a powerful longing.
I’ll raise a glass of something festive — coconut milk? — and toast their farewell.
As “Lost” is about to start its final season February 2, I’m going to miss Kate, its feisty and ferocious character who’s dominated many of the show’s story lines. I’ve loved her complexity and ferociousness and, as a fellow Canadian, loved the fact she’s not one more scrawny Hollywood blond, but a graduate in international relations from the University of British Columbia, happier in real life changing the oil on big rigs than modeling, both jobs she did to pay her college tuition.
Here are some of the women I’ve loved, laughed at and cried with over the years.
C.J. Cregg, played by Allison Janney, on The West Wing the Aaron Sorkin drama that ran from 1999 to 2006. Tall, gangly, smart as hell,C.J. was a great mix of tough and tender, funny as hell in her role as director of White House communications.
Mary Richards, the Mary Tyler Moore Show, which ran on CBS from 1970 to 1977, a major first with a woman who wasn’t married or desperate to marry. At the time, Mary was a role model, all eager excitement about having a career and living on her own in the big city.
Lucy Ricardo, the star of “I Love Lucy”, played by Lucille Ball. She and her husband, Desi Arnaz, formed a production company, Desilu Productions, responsible for many of the hit television series of the 1960s and 1970s.
Christina Yang, played by Canadian actress Sandra Oh, on ABC’s hit Grey’s Anatomy. How many women characters anywhere get to be this stubborn, driven and so frequently emotionally tone-deaf? If you’ve ever met a successful surgeon, you’ll know there’s some truth in her portrayal.And Chandra Wilson, playing Dr. Bailey, whose marriage blows up thanks to her devotion to her career; many ambitious women can identify with her struggles to juggle family and work.
Cagney & Lacey, played by Tyne Daley and Sharon Gless, 1982-1988, in the cop drama series of the same name. Every cop show — every iteration of Law & Order — owes a debt of thanks to this show, the first TV drama to star two women.
BettySuarez, played by America Ferrara, on Ugly Betty. A TV star who isn’t rail-thin? That’s news in itself. Betty’s work ethic could light a continent. So could her heart. Are you as persuaded as someone I know she’s going to end up marrying Daniel?
Dana Scully of The X-Files, played by Gillian Anderson, 1993-2002.Who didn’t want to be Scully, all cool rationality in the face of her partner Fox Mulder’s obsessiveness?
The women of ABC’s hit drama “Lost”: Kate, played by Canadian actress Evangeline Lilly, Junyin Kim as Sun, and Juliet, the cool, blond doctor, played by Elizabeth Mitchell.
Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh, aka The Closer, played by Kyra Sedgwick.
Patty Hewes, Damages, played by Glenn Close, on the FX cable channel.
Murphy Brown, played by Candice Bergen. TV’s first single mom by choice. How many television characters have ever provoked a Vice-Presidential response?
Stacey London, playing herself, in TLC’s reality show for the fashion-challenged What Not To Wear. Sue me, I love this show. As someone who finds shopping overwhelming and often just annoying, I enjoy watching her help women look their best.
The women of NBC’s hospital-based drama ER, which ran from September 1994 to April 2009: Linda Cardellini as Samantha Taggart, Alex Kingston as the widowed Dr. Corday, Nurse Abby Lockhart — prickly and determined to become, as she did, a physician.
Detective Jane Tennison inthe British series Prime Suspect, played by Helen Mirren for 15 years. Chain-smoking, driven, compelling.
Lindsay Weir, Freaks and Geeks, 1999-2000, a short-lived but well-loved drama/comedy about life in high school. The role was played by Linda Cardellini, who later showed up as Samantha Taggart in ER, yet another prickly, complicated woman, a rare species on television at any time.
Lt. Uhura, played by Michelle Nichols, in the original 1960s Star Trek. Nyotu Uhura was the ship’s communications officer, a smart, professional black woman as a central character on a network television show, NBC, at a time when racial segregation still existed. The original show first aired in 1966 and only ran for three seasons and is the television show with the most spin-offs ever. Live long and prosper!