I am not a TV watcher anymore—I’m actually more of a TV-complainer-abouter—so I had to dig deep to find characters I felt strongly about. Well, actually, to find ones I really liked, because if I didn’t like them, I didn’t watch. So, here we go.
- Angela Lansbury as Jessica Fletcher on Murder, She Wrote. Because she was not young, not sexy, and smart as all get out.
- Martin Sheen as Josiah Bartlett on The West Wing. Because he was smart as all get out.
- Ralph Waite as John Walton on The Waltons. Because he had the ability to make people feel safe, and because he loved Olivia with every fiber of his being and that meant he was both sexy and smart as all get out.
- Lucille Ball as Lucy Ricardo on I Love Lucy, because she was so funny and because she was the brains of the show and smart enough to act—in those times—like she wasn’t.
- Tea Leoni and Tim Daly in Madam Secretary. They are mature, good-looking, sexy, and smart as—oh, sorry, I’m repeating myself.
- Tom Selleck in Bluebloods. Because he’s Tom Selleck.
I never gave much thought to TV having anything to do with my writing, but I think in truth it probably does. I am not particularly visual, so I never choose pictures of actors and say, There’s my hero or Give her red hair and that’s my heroine. However, the heroines I write have Jessica Fletcher’s common sense (though not her deductive prowess) and tend toward sneakers and sweaters as opposed to stilettos and tight things.
If my hero were president (not likely), he would say as Josiah Bartlett did, “get your fat asses out of my White House,” to people threatening freedom. He is, even when flawed (and yes, he must be flawed), capable of making those he loves—and those he doesn’t—feel safe as John Walton did. When the woman he loves is smarter than he is (like Lucy was) he likes that in her and never feels threatened by it.
My couples—and yours—have the same chemistry as I feel in Tea Leoni and Tim Daly. In an interview, Daly likened their TV marriage to that of Harvey and Mary Beth in Cagney and Lacey. “They had a lot of conflict, but they were in it, and they weren’t going anyplace.” Works for me.
And Tom Selleck? Well, maybe sometimes I’m just a little visual.