1. Buffy Summers
Like a fine wine, Buffy The Vampire Slayer is a show that ages quite well. Living in a world of TV that’s still dominated by fat balding men and their beautiful nagging wives, one can’t help but pay tribute to how progressive and feminist Buffy actually was. Buffy Summers could’ve been soooooo bad — an airhead cheerleader who, like, totally killed vampires and stuff — but she was the exact opposite. Buffy was the right mixture of vulnerability and strength, all while remaining an authentic teenage girl. She was never the punchline to a joke. The creator Joss Whedon and their team of writers respected her too much to make her anything but complex. Whedon now talks openly about his deep roots in feminism and it’s evident when rewatching the show. If this had fallen into the hands of anyone else, Buffy could’ve easily become a parody of herself, much like she was in the original movie version.
2. Lorena Bobbit
I can’t look at the John and Lorena Bobbit Wikipedia page without dry heaving (the thought of castration makes me actually want to barf. Must be a GuY tHiNg, u KnOw?) but I still am in awe of Lorena and her remarkable set of balls. It was the slice heard around the world, a warning to all of those men who had been living la vida unfaithful: if you put your dick in a vagina that doesn’t belong to your wife, you might not have a penis for much longer. You go, Glen Coco! Cutting off your husband’s penis is very ’90s!
3. Brenda Walsh
Brenda Walsh from Beverly Hills, 90210 was the # 1 brat. I honestly can’t think of a surlier main female character than her. She was always having meltdowns and screaming at people which was apparently how Shannen Doherty behaved in real life. Maybe Doherty was just going Method though. Or maybe she was just straight up possessed by the spirit of Brenda. Whatever it was, we can’t blame Brenda for being a handful since her parents were so terrible at disciplining her. After disobeying her parents’ wishes to see 40-year-old surfer Dylan McKay, Brenda wasn’t punished for her bad behavior. She was simply sent off to Paris for the summer with her best friend! When you have consequences like that, why would someone ever get their crap together?!
4. Liz Phair
When Liz Phair released her record Exile In Guyville in 1993, it sent shockwaves through the music scene. Here was a woman with a guitar singing about blowjobs and enjoying sex, all while being smart and witty about it! She wasn’t going to be anyone’s blow up doll. If anything, she was going to objectify you and write a song about it. It’s a shame what happened to Liz (Wait, isn’t that a quote from Jawbreaker?). After establishing cool feminism cred, Phair threw it all away in the ’00s when she sold her soul to the pop music devil and recorded a record with The Matrix, Avril Lavigne’s producers. It was weird watching Phair dumb herself down in the same way that Jewel did with “Intuition.” I got the feeling that the record was supposed to be a “sort of” joke, except not really at all. If it had sold millions of records, it would’ve become deadly serious. Today Liz Phair raps on records that she releases for free on the Internet.
Rewatching Daria today, it’s hard to figure how this show ever got on the air with a network like MTV. It basically called BS on everything the network had been promoting and it did so with wit and smarts. There’s still the occasional “Anti-MTV” show that ends up there but it’s not nearly as funny or smart as Daria was. The writing was like Larry David for depressed teenage girls. When the show went off the air, it was like the last gasp of brilliance on MTV, the last funny inside joke about a network that had been dumbing itself down.
6. Alicia Silverstone
For a brief beautiful moment in the ’90s, Alicia Silverstone was the It Girl. After building her profile steadily with The Crush and those Aerosmith videos, she finally exploded by starring in everyone’s favorite movie, Clueless. Cher Horowitz was the ’90s. Those outrageous outfits, that naive optimism: she represented a decade in which the president admitted to smoking pot and everyone felt fine about it being the end of the world, as we knew it. Today Alicia Silverstone is famous for subsisting on a diet of organic feces and naming her dog, oops I mean son, Bear Baby Blu or something. Oh well. We’ll always have Cher.
7. Nicole Julian and Mary Cherry
Nicole Julian and Mary Cherry were the terrorizing teen twosome in WB’s short-lived but brilliant show, Popular. They were basically two gay men trapped in terrible ’90s girl outfits. They schemed against the unpopular girls, made constant digs at each other’s weight, and even kidnapped Gwyneth Paltrow’s personal shopper in one episode so they could try on the star’s designer duds. They were 100% campy Cheez-Whiz and I miss them more and more each day. I didn’t realize I was gay until I started imitating Nicole Julian at school by saying “Thank youuuu” after every time my name was called at attendance.
8. Monica Lewinsky
I’m O B S E S S E D with Monica Lewinsky. An affluent chubby Jewish girl from the Valley who had a penchant for wearing berets and sucking Presidential dick?! If that’s not a perfect slice of American pie, I don’t know what is!
9. Mary Camden
Mary Camden was the heart and soul of the downright bizarre Christian family drama, 7th Heaven! While her siblings were drinking the Jesus Kool-Aid, Mary decided to hang out with pot-smoking trailer trash and vandalize her school’s gym. She was blissfully sent away to Bad Girl Camp and now she’s dating Justin Timberlake. I mean, what?
10. Tonya Harding
Tonya Harding brought a major white trash vibe to the Olympics which I’ve always loved and been thankful to her for. Before she hired a hit on her competition Nancy Kerrigan’s knee, Harding was well-known for being a loose cannon who was chronically late to THE FREAKING OLYMPICS (who’s late to the Olympics? I mean, really…) and her struggles with asthma, despite being a noted smoker. When she made her bodyguard and ex-husband attack Kerrigan, she was merely fulfilling her destiny as an original Lifetime movie. Love her, need her, scared of her.