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The TV women we worry about

The TV women we worry about — They run from cougars (Kim on ”24”), become child brides (”7th Heaven”’s Lucy), or act like blow-up dolls (Jenna and Heidi, ”Survivor”)

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Elisha Cuthbert
24: Isabella Vosmikova

You know how television is — you start watching a series and become involved in the characters’ lives. You start rooting for them; you start thinking of them as ”real people”; you (by which I mean me, or anyone with access to an appropriate — or, heck, inappropriate — website) start writing about them as though they were folks whose destiny you could influence. You become, in other words, a fan, a fanatic, a nut. After talking to various EW staffers and listening to the pesky voices in my head, here are some thoughts on a few TV Women We Worry About.

KIM ON ”24”
As the walking, talking, young-demo-grabbing subplot necessary to keep some viewers tuned in to ripped-from-tomorrow’s-terrorism plots and Kiefer Sutherland’s macho lockjaw, Jack Bauer’s daughter lives out the scripted-drama version of ”When Animals Attack.” In both seasons, Kim has spent a day separated from Jack — via abduction, voluntary runaway, or on the lam — only to find herself chased, scratched, and pawed in ways that leave her T-shirts torn for maximum see-throughitude. She’s been stalked by the wacko father of the girl she’s babysitting and (in an episode that’s already entered camp-TV history) been caught in an animal trap as a cougar licks its chops at the rare sight of a white Los Angeles female with more meat on her bones than your average buffalo wing. Silent-movie actresses tied to railroad tracks had more motivation to work with, and thus actress Elisha Cuthbert doesn’t get enough credit for maintaining a straight face no matter what pickle this otherwise-excellent suspenser puts her in. Still, we worry: Will Kim ever get to spend quality time with her father? And does ”quality time” with Jack Bauer mean, oh, being strapped side by side against the cold metal of a nuclear bomb?

Last week, Beverley Mitchell’s pumpkin-cute Lucy was wed to her true love, Kevin (George Stults), the cop with a chin so chiseled, he makes Dick Tracy look like Charles Nelson Reilly. Thus endeth the arc of one of TV’s most eccentric bachelorettes. For the past couple of years in this reverend-and-his-family series, show creator Brenda Hampton has taken the teen-heartthrob positions from the older siblings, played by Jessica Biel and Barry Watson, and given them to their sprouting costars Mitchell and the haircut-impaired David Gallagher. Lucy has always been maddeningly contradictory, just like a semireal teenager: She started out sweet, turned bratty, decided to become a minister like Dad, yet was always ready to pounce on a new boyfriend like…well, like a cougar on Kim.