2020 is almost over (thank God for it) so we have to celebrate the characters we love, characters that have stayed with us. These are characters who were relatable and complex, and extremely relevant to the times we live in. A period ridden with divisive hate politics, communal strife, a viral pandemic and riots breaking out everywhere, made it all the more urgent to have web series that held up a mirror to real society.
And so we find ourselves appreciating the female characters of web series who stood out this year. 2020 was fascinating in terms of women in series, as they broke out from the age old mould of being unidimensional characters. They were complex, real and even difficult to grasp. Basically, they were real. Human.
Here are 10 women from 2020 web series whom we love:
Pushpavalli is a morally grey character. She is deeply insecure but also deeply infuriating, and as an audience, you straddle the line between feeling for her and feeling enraged by her. She isn’t like any female character I’ve ever seen in web series before — or on the screen, for that matter — and that’s what makes her so human. Season 2 pushed the limit on how far Pushpavalli will go to get what she wants, even if it’s unethical, not right, and even messed up. We love the crazy antics she gets herself into, and appreciate the fact that none of her actions are ever glorified or condemned harshly. She’s not judged, because we all have a little of her within ourselves.
Dolly is a fascinating person, mostly because she’s not the easiest to figure out. Ridden with anxiety issues, aware of her husband’s infidelity, a caring dog mother and an almost detached, free soul, Dolly is portrayed to actually be much more intelligent and powerful than her famous husband. She stands her ground in a show otherwise overpowered with men and masculinity, and stands apart as a memorable, even crucial, character. We hope to see more women like her — unpredictable, unsolvable, realistic.
Sushmita Sen kills it as the stoic, often terrifying Aarya. In fact, she said in an interview with Hindustan Times that “Actually that’s the thing about Aarya that I love. You can’t put her under any definition. You can’t say she is this or that. She is as raw as any other human emotion.” Even the creator of the series said “We are playing with the conscience of a woman who is dealing with her own conscience, of what is right and wrong that is primary. She is dealing with family and the idea of can you really trust your family.” Here’s a mother, a widowed wife, caught up in the world of drugs and crime, without any prior knowledge, and she somehow balances all of these worlds without breaking down. HOW?
4. Golu Gupta
Golu’s character in the second season of Mirzapur undergoes a radical shift. Short hair, masculine clothing and shooting guns, Golu is basically one of the Gupta sons. And one of the most deceptive ones. It makes perfect sense that Shweta Tripathi plays her, because she has the ability to play a character with an innocent surface, and a bubbling rage within. She basically owns Mirzapur, lowkey telling her father that she is the new ‘baap’ of the town.
5. Mohini Rathod
Bandish Bandits, while being a below-average series, made up for it with amazing music and quirky characters. And Sheeba Chaddha’s character, Mohini, was the most fascinating to watch. Starting off as a typical Rajasthani bahu, subserviant to the men of the house, literally silencing her own talent in order to appease Pandit Rathod’s fragile masculinity, she unveils her secrets in a manner that is entirely believable, authentic and true to her character, all the while being totally empowering and inspiring along the way. She is a star in her own right, but doesn’t allow her circumstances to make her bitter or angry (I imagine the Rathod men would be in her place).
6. Princess Diana
The Crown’s fourth season was absolutely heartbreaking for fans all over the world. All of us love Princess Di in real life, and The Crown only added to it. A fierce and independent young woman, Diana had our hearts from the first moment she appeared on the screen. A tragic beauty, she was a woman who spoke her heart and loved everyone. Emma Corrin played her beautifully, once again reminding us why we fell in love with the people’s princess. This just reminded everyone of the many real reasons why British monarchy has ruined lives. We should know that well.
7. Esther Shapiro
From the hit miniseries, Unorthodox is the paragon of an excellent star cast meeting a fantastic story and writing. A woman flees an arranged marriage in Brooklyn to start a new life abroad, then her past catches up to her. Shira Haas plays the dynamic, fierce, fearless and integrity-filled Esther Shapiro. Esther’s circumstances could have you feeling sorry for her, but instead you find yourself rooting for her without any pity. Her journey is incredibly inspiring, and proof that women can do just about anything. Best part? She neither has any anger or bitterness towards her family. She’s so mature that she understands where everyone comes from. Unorthodox is an important show in these times of global conflict.
What to even say about Villanelle? That she’s probably crazy (clinically), outstanding, far too sexy for this world, terribly terrifying, a psycopath/sociopath/something-path, someone I’d never want to meet? All that, and so much more. Yet, something about her makes her so. fucking. human. Maybe it’s that she loves fiercely, and her tragic relationship with Eve is a modern-day Romeo and Juliet, ridden with queerness and wrongness. Also, without her, the show would be dull AF. We want more Villanelle!
There are many reasons to love Elite, but I think Nadia plays a big part in this list. A brilliant, scholarship student torn between her family and social life, Nadia is relatable to every desi girl ever. She’s a scholarship student who holds integrity as her most important quality, and makes it very clear that she don’t need no man. She’s as independent as they come, but this doesn’t mean she doesn’t have her flaws. Often coming off as judgmental and narrow-minded, she is very real and has both the good and the bad. Also, her hair! We love Nadia and are inspired by her dedication to working hard, understand her struggle to balance her family’s conservative values and the desire to do youthful things. Not to mention, she’s incredibly gorgeous.
10. Saeeda Bai
Mira Nair’s A Suitable Boy has its own positives and negatives, but one of the most exciting parts of the series is the character that Tabu plays, Saeeda Bai. Bringing Vikram Seth’s eponymous novel to life, Nair makes sure that every character is fleshed out and made real. Saeeda Bai is no exception. She is a courtesan and singer, and the young Maan Kapoor (Ishan Khatter) becomes infatuated with her. Dripping with elegance, beauty and shattering femininity, Saeeda Bai is also one of the wisest people on the show. Sure, she’s a victim of her own circumstances, but she somehow rises above it all, and is just as raw and real as all the other characters on the show. Only Tabu could have done such a stunning character justice.
Which women did you love from 2020? Tell us on firstname.lastname@example.org
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