As TV fans, we are not strangers to the idea of favorite characters. I have at least one per show that I watch, sometimes more. However, even among our favorites, there are some we love just a little more than all the others. They aren’t always played by the most talented person on the show, they aren’t always the main focus, and sometimes they aren’t even that popular with other fans of the show. But we love them anyway and keep them in a special place in our hearts. They are “our” characters, they ones we love, identify with, or look up to so much that we just want to shout about how great they are to anyone who will listen. So today, I want to introduce you all to one of my characters and everything that makes her great.
Meet Gillian Foster, from FOX’s Lie to Me. She is a trained psychologist and used to work for the CIA before joining The Lightman Group. She doesn’t have all the experience and background in lie detecting that Cal does, but she uses her ability to understand and relate to people to get her job done. She has shown herself to be very good at her job and is also the person at The Lightman Group who is best able to handle the people-focused aspect of their work.
She is kind,compassionate, dedicated, and determined. She is the emotional grounding point of The Lightman Group team. She gets overly involved with cases sometimes, especially when they hit a little too close to home, but she’ll always find the truth. She’s a fighter and so much stronger than people give her credit for.
What I love most about her is that she knows exactly who she is and she is comfortable with that. In the first episode, she is in Cal’s office talking to him about a case while eating chocolate pudding. Cal was a little disgusted at the thought of eating pudding at 10 in the morning, and when she is asked who would eat pudding so early in the day, she simply replies “People who like pudding”. It’s a small comment and in the first episode, probably wasn’t expected to mean much but it became indicative of a larger character pattern. This is the woman who has a huge sweet tooth, reads romance novels, and likes pink dresses because they all make her happy. While it seems like a simple thing, it is incredibly powerful to both know what makes you happy and then actively choose to engage in those activities even when those around you don’t understand them.
So much about Gillian is associated with a fairly traditional view of femininity. Her interests are more traditionally feminine and the way she interacts with the world, while not passive, is more emotionally driven than the way Cal interacts with the world. Yet the show never uses that against her or uses it to imply that she isn’t strong and capable. When she is injured on a case and Cal (being more than a little in love with her) wants to shield her and protect her, she refuses and pushes on because it just makes her more driven to seek justice for her clients. Her emotions give her drive and passion, they don’t make her weak. It’s not a terribly common portrayal of a successful woman on TV and it makes her stand out to me all the more.
Gillian Foster is my #1 fictional role model. She’s strong, talented, knows herself, and knows that she is valuable to others and demands that recognition and respect. She feels deeply and she loves deeply. Once she is your friend, you know that you have a friend for life. She will be in your corner and fight for you when things get tough. She’s the person you know you can trust with anything. She’s the one who will hurt and get knocked down and get right back up again, ready to fight and move on. She has so many strengths that I love and admire, and that’s why, of all of the characters I’ve loved on all the shows, she’s my favorite. She’s mine and she’ll always hold a special place in my heart.
Who are some of “your” characters, the ones you love just a little more and a little differently than all your other favorites?