Monday, April 20, 2015

Women I love

At a newsstand once I saw an Esquire magazine with the headline “Women We Love.” I eagerly leafed through the magazine, figuring I was going to see great glossy photos of hot women. Instead, the women they loved were like Golda Meir and Madeline Albright. Still, it was a great feature and very effectively made the point that the women we love don’t have to be hot. So I’m stealing the concept. Here are some women I love (and to me they all are hot).  NOTE:  These are only SOME of the women.  There are many others. 

EDEN SHER – She plays Sue on THE MIDDLE and is far and away the funniest girl on television. Why she doesn’t have five Emmys is beyond me. While most kids in sitcoms are stereotypes, Eden’s portrayal of a gawky teenager is 100% real and 200% hilarious.

CONSTANCE WU – Second funniest lady on TV. But you know that. I gushed about her a couple of weeks ago.

VIOLA DAVIS – The very definition of a television star. She lights up the screen. You can’t take your eyes off of her. Writers can get away with murder with Viola as their lead.

PAM FRYMAN -- In a predominantly male industry, she's one of the best sitcom directors in the business.  Among her many credits -- all of HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER.  I'm a director, but when I had a pilot a few years ago I still hired Pam Fryman over myself.  And it was a wise choice.  

TATIANA MASLANY -- See my post on ORPHAN BLACK.  She's the five best actresses in North America.

MICHELE TAFOYA – Best sideline reporter ever – man or woman. Maybe the only smart thing NBC has done in recent years is not replacing her because she stopped being 22. Besides, half the time she’s in a parka or under an umbrella anyway.

OFEIBEA QUIST-ARCTON – NPR Ghana correspondent. Very thorough and okay, I just love that someone uses that name on the radio. In my day she’d be Sally Adams.

ILANA GLAZER & ABBI JACOBSON – The Romy & Michele of Millennials.

KELLI O’HARA – When is she going to win a damn Tony already?

ROBIN ROBERTS – The gold standard in class and grace.

AMANDA SCHULL – Can play deliciously evil. Loved her in SUITS. She’s now in 12 MONKEYS.

NAHNATCHKA KHAN – A comedy writer/showrunner not afraid to go for laughs instead of mild detached irony. Created FRESH OFF THE BOAT and the underrated B____ IN APARTMENT 23.

TARAJI P. HENSON – Viola Davis with more bling. With all the good things going for EMPIRE, she’s the best thing.

KEIRA KNIGHTLEY – Okay, so I have a crush on her. But she’s a damn good actress… isn’t she?

AUDRA MCDONALD – Broadway royalty who understands you don’t have to belt every song (like some “Frozen” diva I know).

WENDY LIEBMAN – A comedienne with her own unique rhythms and style. And she’s very funny.

OLIVIA MUNN – See Keira Knightley.

MAGGIE SMITH – The only reason to still watch DOWNTON ABBEY.

VALERIE GELLER – Radio consultant who believes listeners want entertaining, informative compelling personalities and not soulless voice tracked generic drones. So she’s an industry maverick.

RUTH BADER GINSBURG – The hottest Supreme Court Justice ever.

MARGO MARTINDALE – As long as there’s this list, she will be on it.
Who are some of your favorite women?


emily said...

No Natalie Wood?

Oat Willie said...

Eden Sher may be great but she's got Cindy Brady Syndrome: instructed by the show's writers to be mentally retarded.
As for Ginsberg, she reminds me of Jeff Ross's quip, "Dr Ruth, I wanna fuck you so bad."

BrettJ said...

I used to like Rita Rudner a lot, but she seems to have disappeared from the scene. Currently, an actress named Emily Bett Rickards who appears on ARROW. I think she has the potential to be a big star soon. Am I the only one who has noticed besides being gorgeous, she has great comedy chops?

Barry Traylor said...

I realize it will sound cornball, but at the top of the list for me is my mother and my sister. Both sadly departed from this life. I'd give a lot to be able to spend an afternoon just chatting with either one.

Dan Ball said...

BrettJ, I've only seen Emily a few times on FLASH, but I could see that happening. She works well with Grant Gustin. I keep meaning to watch ARROW, especially since Steve Amell came to the Derby party where I worked last year. He came down the red carpet and I had no idea who he was. Now that I watch FLASH religiously, I definitely know now.

Unknown said...

Agree with you completely on Sue Sue Heck. A golden retriever puppy masquerading as a teenage girl: always eager to please; just wanting to be noticed and loved.
Great character. Great show.

ScottyB said...

Ken probably could've just stopped the list at Eden Sher. It's frightfully tough to pull off being an adorable total-geek. Good case in point: There was nothing adorable about Bill Haverchuck ('Freaks & Geeks'). Martin Starr nailed that character, but Bill Haverchuck was by all measurements a bland turd. Sue Sue Heck reeks of spunk.

Jake said...

Speaking of great comedy chops, there's Wendi McLendon-Covey (The Goldbergs) and Toks Olagundoye (formerly of The Neighbors - someone bring her back to TV ASAP).

Love Margo - when The Millers was axed on a Friday the actors, who would be paid anyway, chose to complete the final episode the following Tuesday so the crew members would be paid.

ScottyB said...

Ruth Bader Ginsburg? I'm guessing it's because Sandra Day O'Connor's hairstyle never worked for Ken.

ScottyB said...

@emily: If Ken ever gets tired of Natalie Wood or Elizabeth Montgomery, he'd be totally righteous by going with Marlo Thomas. She's still hot, and best of all, she's not dead.

I was half-expecting to see Laura Prepon on his list, tho.

Hamid said...

Alison Brie, Alison Brie, followed by Alison Brie.

I'll think of some others but for now it's Alison Brie.

Markus said...

One of those blog posts that serves as an occasional reminder of how different our global cultures actually are, even though I'd consider myself reasonably adept at "US-awareness" ...

I know Keira Knightley. I think I've heard of Olivia Munn. But while I probably might recognize some of the others if I saw a picture, the rest is a total blur.

Michael Hill said...

Completely agree on Eden Sher. Her shelves should be falling off the walls trying to hold up the Emmys. The Middle is so much better than the overpraised (and awarded) Modern Family which has turned into a gag show.

Rashad Khan said...

My favorite woman? That would have to be my mom.

VincentS said...

Kim Dickens - VERY underrated actress.
Lynn Sherr - Great jounralist.
Andie MacDowell - Sorry
Ruth Bader Ginsberg
Nichelle Nichols - First crush
Lynda Carter - Second crush
Elizabeth Warren
My Grandmother
Marie Curie
Helen Keller

VincentS said...

...and Alexandra DeSantis.

Mike Barer said...

Dawn Wells, Elizabeth Montgomery, Karen Valentine, Maria Cantwell, Mona Lee Locke, King 5 Anchor Joyce Taylor, Courtney Thorne-Smith, Michelle Obama, Mrs. Martin Luther King, Cameron Diaz, Lauren Parsekian (Aaron Paul's wife)

Barefoot Billy Aloha said...

Well, unless I want to sleep in the barn with the horses, my wife is #1.

#2 is Jill Tarter, Director of SETI Research at the SETI Institute in Mountain View. The reason: her ability to explain complex science to a doofus like me.

Ane said...

Completely agree on Audra McDonald. My first experience of the musical Annie was the movie version from 1999 with her as Grace. No other Grace has measured up to her since, and my family still watches the film every Christmas.

Matt said...

Totally agree with you about Olivia Munn. When The Network came out and I heard she was starring I was skeptical because I had only seen her in The Attack of the Shows on G4. She was great. Maybe the best part of the show. Really good actress, I am disappointed I haven't seen her in much sense.

Anonymous said...

This one cool blog post.
You writing is so cool Mr. Levine.
Love it.
Thanks. Love reading your blog. I work as Reader in NYC and this is a breath of fresh air.

Keep Reading.
Keep Writing.
And above all,
Keep Re-writing.

McAlvie said...

Agree on Maggie Smith and Margo Martindale. While I suspect The Millers was supposed to be a Will Arnett vehicle, he was the one character they could have done without. Martindale and Bridges were the only reason to watch that show.

I'd add Helen Mirren, Katharine Hepburn, and Lauren Bacall.

I would include my mom and grandma at the top of the list, but that wouldn't mean anything to anybody but me.

Mike Barer said...

Shannon Dreyer, Mariners Reporter and former KIRO radio newscaster Jessica Gottesman (nice Jewish name)

willieb said...

I agree Constance Wu is a real find. I started watching "Fresh Off The Boat" on your recommendation, Ken, and agree that she's the best thing in a show full of good things (the grandma is pretty good, even though I can't understand a thing she says). Now it's on to another of your recommendations, Orphan Black.
I've followed Olivia Munn from G4 to the Daily Show to Perfect Couples to New Girl to the Newsroom...kind of like a puppy. I've watched some real dreck just to see her.

Kosmo13 said...

Barbaras Feldon, Eden and Bain

Pam Grier

Lee Meriwether

Christina Hendricks

Karen Witter

BrettJ said...

Dan Ball, Emily is a find (and a fellow Canadian, as is Steve Amell and his cousin Robbie). If I am ever fortunate enough to meet here (and am not struck speechless) I hope to tell her what a wonderful light actress she is. You should see her play off of Amell, she's not at all intimidated by Oliver - and I think their chemistry caused the writers to reconsider her role on the show and make it larger.

RyderDA said...

I'm with Markus. Of that list, I know Kiera and Olivia. Maybe it's because I'm Ken's age, and they don't make shows for old farts. But I'm Canadian and not that culturally different... or maybe we are.

I'd add Natascha McElhone. And Kaley Cuoco. And Allison Janney. And Emma Thompson.

Anonymous said...

No Nancy Travis?

Canda said...

Can't beat Carol Leifer, incredibly talented writer and comedienne, who once said, "I don't have any kids...or at least none I know of".

That was a great joke, just waiting for some woman to come up with it . Leifer did.

It's like the Henny Youngman line, "My Uncle was the town drunk. Normally, that's not so bad...but New York!"

chuckcd said...

Amy Schumer. Funny and hot.

Steve Mc said...

Francis McDormand
Angela Bassett
Wendy Malick
Claire Danes
Justin Bieber

tavm said...

I see noboby's mentioned Tina Fey yet so I just did. Oh, and of any of the women on "The Big Bang Theory", I'll pick Melissa Rauch.

Diane D. said...

I can't believe in this Cheers-loving crowd, no one mentioned SHELLEY LONG. Ted Danson once said she was magnificent and he didn't exaggerate.
Others: Glenn Close
Judi Dench
Helen Mirren
Emma Thompson
Leaving the entertainment world:
Christiane Amanpour--journalist
Carolyn Porco--planetary scientist (see
her TED Talks!)

Aaron Sheckley said...

I owe it to Ken for turning me on to The Middle. I never watched it during its first few seasons, but Ken's constant praise got me to finally tune it. It is, hands down, my favorite comedy on TV. It gets overshadowed by far lesser comedies like BBT or, Jeebus save us, Modern family. I too love Sue, and Eden Sher can make her seem dorky and lovable without ever veering into whiny and insufferable. That's a tightrope walk that I think a lot of other actors would fail to accomplish.

Margo Martindale is a powerhouse, though I much prefer her as Mags Bennett over Carol Miller. She's funny, to be sure, but as the Bennett family crime lord, she came across as positively lethal, without ever veering into caricature. I wish they hadn't killed her off, because she would have made a great adversary for Raylan's final season.

Joseph Scarbrough said...

I don't know who the girl in the first pic is, but danged if she doesn't look a lot like my gal if she was a braces-wearing, alienated-looking teenager without glasses.

Anonymous said...

Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett, Kathy Bates, Jessica Lange, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Julianne Moore

Hamid said...

No Lizzy Caplan fans in the house? She rocks!

And also:
Michelle Rodriguez
Carey Mulligan
Emma Stone
Claire Danes
Julia Stiles
Jodie Foster
Ellen Page
Julianne Moore
Andrea Riseborough
Sigourney Weaver
Keri Russell
Anna Kendrick
Ali Cobrin
Margot Robbie

And someone who's not a star yet but totally deserves to be, Nathalie Fay, an absolute goddess.

Todd Everett said...

Sarah Rafferty. By all rights, "Suits" should be called "The Donna Show."

Also: Jane Leeves

auragoneboy said...

From the entertainment industry I'd add:
Jennifer Saunders for AbFab
Sue Harris for SOAP
Carrie Fisher for Postcards

gottacook said...

As an editor I've dealt with Carolyn Porco in her capacity as senior author of scientific journal articles, and she is the biggest prima donna... although in her TED talks she might indeed be just swell.

Also: How is it that no one until now has mentioned Diana Rigg!?

Igor said...

Yes on them all but-cept ROBIN ROBERTS.

She's graceful, but otherwise she's a self-produced reality show - a TLC reality show.

Oh, unless you mean Robin Roberts of the Phillies. But he passed 5 years ago.

Cap'n Bob said...

Since you asked, no, Knightley isn't a good actress. She's a one-note beauty with decent screen presence.

I've never heard of many of your choices, but I don't watch most regular TV shows.

I used to dislike Sher's screeching but she's backed off a bit on it and now she's much more engaging.

Terrence Moss said...

i disagree with your assessment; she's not mentally-challenged or even written that way. she's indefatigable and eternally optimistic -- which results in not always seeing things as they are, but should hardly be seen as mentally-challenged.

Terrence Moss said...

betty white
phylicia rashad
vanessa williams

Diane D. said...

To gottacook:
Very disappointing to hear that Porco is a prima donna. I hate that. She really is great in her TED talks, especially the one on Saturn--amazing.

DwWashburn said...

On current TV, only one. Julie Bowen.

On past TV, Tina Fey and Sally Field.

Diane D. said...

Phylicia Rashad?????? After what she said about the 30+ women Bill Cosby raped?

Anonymous said...

Allison Janney

Pat Reeder said...

Thank you for putting Eden Sher on top. I never understood all the praise for "Modern Family" (they hand Emmys to the extras who walk through the background of that overrated show), while the best comic actress on TV today is repeatedly snubbed. The injustice ranks right up there with Hugh Laurie never winning an Emmy for "House."

And to BrettJ: Rita Rudner lives and performs full time in Vegas. Last time I was there, she had a beautiful showroom of her own at Harrah's, I think. She was as funny as ever, and we visited with her after the show. Very nice lady. According to her website, she now holds the record for the longest-running continuous solo comedy show in Vegas.

Unknown said...

I'll add Tracy Ellis Ross. Lots of picks listed here that I agree with.
Kelly Clarkson
Connie Britton
Julia Louise-Dreyfus
Tina Faye
The whole cast of Hot In Cleveland
Viola Davis is a force of nature.
Louisa May Alcott
Eleanor Roosevelt
Amelia Earhart

Mark L said...

I was in lust with Dolores heart and we all know what happened to her.

Mark L said...

Dolores Hart. I hate autocorrect.

David P said...

Jessica Paré from Mad Men. Beautiful, intelligent, and has an uncle from one of the funniest, most bizarre sketch comedy groups I know - The Vestibules (formerly Radio Free Vestibule). They produced and performed such memorable sketches as Christmas on Acid, Zalgon 26 McGee, Bulbous Bouffant and The Grunge Song.

Andy Rose said...

The only thing I like more than Ofeibea Quist-Arcton's name is the way she says her dateline, "Dakar." She growls it, like it's a dare.

And of course you're right about Eden Sher. Very underrated performer on a very underrated show.

cadavra said...

I think this year may finally be Kelly O'Hara's year, Tony-wise. I'll know for sure in a couple of weeks when I see THE KING AND I.

Speaking of Broadway, it's given us some wonderful dames:

Sutton Foster
Cherry Jones
Bebe Neuwirth
Laura Benanti
Celia Keenan-Bolger
Christine Baranski (yes, I know you can't stand her; deal with it)

I'm also extremely fond of Holly Hunter, Zoe Kazan, Justine Lupe, Kat Dennings and Lorraine Feather. And outside of show biz, how can we not love Elizabeth Warren, Michelle Obama and the smartest person on TV, Rachel Maddow?

John said...

Eden is a crackup ... literally portraying a human car wreck. You can't look away. I though ABC might be going to the well once too often with another ethnic family sitcom, but FOTB really IS finding its legs. I also really liked The B**** in Apt 23 at the start. Then I watched a couple "un-aired episodes" on and came to the conclusion the network was right to cancel it. They were losing it. Ken, what in your opinion went wrong with The B?

Storm said...

I positively LIVE for Bettie Page, Vampira, Tura Satana, and Dita Von Teese... raven-haired women FTW.

When I was 14, Nastassia Kinski in "Cat People" made me realize I like girls; she'll always be my Girl With The Strange European Accent (That Comes Out Of THE MOST Gorgeous Mouth).

Janis Joplin, Stevie Nicks, Grace Slick, Joan Jett, and Deborah Harry have always been my goddesses. And Mae West! Always and forever, Miss West.

Bjo Trimble, the Ultimate Nerdgirl and Queen of Fandom, who "saved Star Trek" back in the day: at 81, she is a force to reckon with, a font of wonderful stories, and a total inspiration.

I'll think of more as soon as this is posted, I'm sure!

Cheers, thanks a lot, (oh, that reminds me: Joanna Lumley!)


unkystan said...

I am so in love with Mary Steenburgen that I scare myself!

Loosehead said...

Mayim Bialik, who revived TBBT when it was going into a slump. My wife and I scream with laughter at some of the things she does to Sheldon.

Where is Nancy Travis?

Pat Reeder said...

Ken, here's some argument material for you: someone's list of the 10 most underrated sitcoms of all time. "The Middle" is there, in the middle, of course:

Diane D. said...

I had never seen THE MIDDLE before last night. I watched two episodes and didn't laugh once. Eden Sher was charming and Patricia Heaton is always good, but I didn't think it was even in the same league as MODERN FAMILY. It deserves every Emmy it gets IMHO. I get so many delicious belly laughs from that show; I was so surprised to hear so many people speaking negatively about it in this thread. The whole concept is hilarious (to me), the writing is so imaginative, the acting so good; it's the first show I've loved since Cheers and Frasier ended.

Efram Feminist Jr. said...

The top three are, for obvious reasons, Golda Meir, Lady Gaga and Smurfette.

Anonymous said...

Great post Ken,

But I have to ask:

Where's Natalie Wood???


Dan Reese said...

I totally agree on Eden Sher. So funny and so real it's easy to assume she's not acting, she's just like that.

One nostalgic one I never thought got her due-- Ann Morgan Guilbert. She's still acting in her late 80s, and every time I see a great Millie scene in a Dick Van Dyke Show episode I marvel at how funny and underappreciated she was.

JoeyH said...

Felecia Day

Powerhouse Salter said...

Tea Leoni.

Sparks said...

Lots of good choices here, but I would want to add Brenda Blethen.

Aquamensch said...

Great post Ken,

But I have to ask:

Where's Natalie Wood???

About 12-14 feet down.

Jabroniville said...

Poor Idina Menzel- she spent 10 years trying to become a pop/rock star after RENT, became a "belter" with WICKED, spent another 10 trying to become a pop star, then FROZEN came out and now she has to be a "belter" again. She actually DOES have several CDs out with only a tiny bit of belting- even "Defying Gravity" on one CD is done quietly and slowly. But all those CDs sold like shit and she got dropped from her record labels.

I'm pretty sure after 20 years of failing to become another kind of star, she's pretty much just stuck being a belter. Her voice is just too nasal otherwise, and nobody in music wants to hear a 43-year old woman sing lower notes.

In other words, she's basically one of those sitcom stars who hit big doing one thing, but was typecast. If I was her, I'd stick with what I was good at, too.

BrettJ said...

Thanks to Pat Reeder for the update on Ms. Rudner. I also agree with several of the other choices on this list, including Ann Morgan Guilbert (a laugh riot on the Nanny). I should also add Fran Drescher - to do as much as she did after a cancer diagnosis is impressive.

Mike Barer said...

The lady who plays Amy on Veep. She's likable by playing an unlikable character. Annie Chumley?

Mike Barer said...

I'm sorry, Anna Chlumsky! I guess stage names are out.

Justin Russo said...

Maureen O'Hara
Olivia de Havilland
Sophia Loren
(these ladies are holding down the fort)

Meryl Streep
Care Blanchett
Julianne Moore
Judi Dench
Kate Winslet
Catherine Deneuve
Nicole Kidman
Geena Davis
Tina Fey
Amy Schumer

Of all Time:
Myrna Loy
Kate Hepburn
Bette Davis
Hedy Lamarr
Ella Fitzgerald
Tina Turner