That Girl is my favorite TV show. I’ve been watching reruns on DVD since I was little. It wasn’t until recently that I realized how groundbreaking the show was. That Girl is a show about a young woman who is trying to live on her own in New York City. She is an aspiring actress but she takes several odd jobs to pay her bills. The show is entirely about her.
Most shows, past and present, do not focus solely on a female character. That Girl was definitely the FIRST show to put a single female out there as the main character. That is due in large part to the actress who plays the main character, Marlo Thomas. She fought for the show and insisted that a single female could support a show. That girl is the first portrayal of a single, independent woman.
Other shows like The Mary Tyler Moore show came in the years following but I would argue that they are not as great an impact for feminism. The Mary Tyler Moore show has more of an ensemble cast who carry the show.
When I thought that I could write a post about That Girl, I tried to think of CURRENT examples of single, independent women being portrayed on TV and I’m having trouble thinking of any. Partly because shows today do rely on an ensemble cast and rarely focus on just one character. The Mindy Project is the best example I can come up with. The show is about a single doctor. However, a lot of the show focuses so much on Mindy’s search for a love interest.
That Girl does show Ann as having a steady boyfriend but there is no focus on getting married or moving in together. In no way does Ann derive her self worth from having a boyfriend. He is a secondary character. That Girl is an empowering TV show. When so many media portrayals of women are negative, I’m glad that a show like That Girl will always exist.