Teresa Mendoza to Alex Vause: The fiercest female antiheroes on TV right now
In this peak age of prestige television there are a lot of strong, complex female characters coming through on screen. Some of them are righteous and tenacious, badass and bombastic, and others are all that with a side of villainy.
There’s now a slew of female antiheroes on screen after decades of male antiheroes like Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) and Walter White (Bryan Cranston) making audiences feel uneasy about how much they can sympathize with family men with a radical dark side. Now it’s time for the ladies to be totally fucked up, a little bit despicable, and impossibly charming.
Of all the TV shows still on the air, these are our ten favorite female antiheroes you’re sure to feel uneasy about loving.
10. Alison Lockhart: The Affair
Probably the most low-key antihero on the list, Ruth Wilson’s (Locke) can be fragile, frenetic, fiendish, or fierce depending on whose perspective we’re seeing her from. The character is complex and full of demons – ones that often propel her into making disastrous decisions – making us both rage about her often while we’re still rooting for her along the way.
9. Annie, Beth, and Ruby: Good Girls
Played with a keen sense of depth by Mae Whitman (Arrested Development), Christina Hendricks (Mad Men), and Retta (To The Bone) respectively, Good Girls follows three moms who turn to crime to support their families. Their decisions are often questionable but their motives often aren’t.
8. Annalise Keating: How to Get Away with Murder
Through an endless set of twists and turns we’ve seen the gradual unravelling of Annalise Keating’s (Viola Davis) many complex layers. One minute she’s our hero and leader and we don’t doubt her for a second. The next she’s someone we barely recognize with a hidden agenda and a savage goal – but damn is she fascinating.
7. Elizabeth Jennings: The Americans
We know the show is now officially off the air forever, but we still want to raise a toast to Elizabeth Jennings (Keri Russell) and her many pseudonyms. She’s truly one of the greatest and most violent TV antiheroes of all time.
6. Rachel & Quinn: UnReal
Rachel (Shiri Appleby) and Quinn (Constance Zimmer) can be absolutely monstrous in every possible regard. But their tenacious approach to ruling the airwaves, maintaining control of Everlasting against powerful men, and standing strong against endless challenges also makes them utterly alluring.
5. Alex Vause: Orange is the New Black
Laura Prepon’s Litchfield inmate is selfish, manipulative, and a hideous backstabber, but she’s also completely seductive and occasionally does the right thing. She’s sweet and sour and definitely not to be trusted and yet, as an audience, we strive to believe in her.
4. Bridgette: SMILF
Spectacularly flawed and fairly self-centered, Bridgette (Frankie Shaw) is a wild and unruly single mom who repeatedly makes terrible decisions. The show delivers an unapologetically horrible representation of motherhood via the character and yet you can’t help but root for Bridgette.
3. Desna Simms: Claws
Definitely the sweetest antihero on the list, Niecy Nash’s nail technician turned criminal mastermind is simply looking to get what’s hers and isn’t afraid to fight dirty to get it.
2. Villanelle: Killing Eve
The immense power of Villanelle’s (Jodie Comer) appeal is reflected in Eve’s unstoppable fascination with the killer. As Uproxx put it, “Eve knows she should feel repelled, but is instead almost pulled into her thrall,” and as viewers we feel exactly the same towards her.
1. Teresa Mendoza: Queen of the South
Star Alice Braga once said of the character, “I love that she doesn’t victimize herself”. And how! The show explores a woman’s rise to power as a drug lord and – just as many male criminal antiheroes have been depicted for decades – Teresa’s reign of power can be savage and brutal even if she might have a heart of gold beneath it all.