Nope, not Tyra Banks (though there was a time when I loved me some America's Next Top Model).
Since I've mentioned before that I'm working my way through back issues of popular shows, I'm referring to Tyra Collette from Friday Night Lights. Now, before I say anything, I have to say that I'm only part-way through Season 3, so this is purely based on what's happened to Tyra thus far. There are some spoilers below, though, for those few of you who, like me, are only now just watching this super awesome show.
I count Tyra as one of my Kick-Ass Women for three reasons:
- She kicked her mother's abusive boyfriend out of the house - hell, SCARED him out of the house with a fireplace poker
- She didn't let a rapist shame her into silence
- She channeled her rage into being an awesome hitter on her school's volleyball team
At the beginning of the show, Tyra was depicted as just the trashy ex-girlfriend of Tim Riggins. With some mishaps here and there, she was getting labeled as the "no good girl" that The Taylors didn't want their daughter Julie hanging out with. But when Mrs. Taylor reaches out to Tyra to give her a wake-up call on her schoolwork, we get a window into how effed up Tyra's home life is. Basically, her weak, man-crazy Mom would rather Tyra capitalize on her looks and not aim too high in her academic future. Luckily, even though Tyra loves her mom and only wants to make her happy, she struggles to do something foreign to her and start taking her classes seriously.
Tyra enlists the help of nerdy and loveable Landry as a tutor. They get along well, and she feels more comfortable studying around someone she views as so desperately nerdy that in contrast she'll still remain cool. They plan on meeting up for a study date, and then this is when the shit hits the fan.
Tyra is waiting for Landry in a cafe and strikes up a conversation with a friendly stranger. When Landry's car breaks down and he's late getting to Tyra, she gives up and starts to go home. The stranger pounces on her, drags her into his truck and attempts to rape her. This was such an unexpected and terrifying way for the story to go -- I was worried the show was trying to "pull a Mad Men" and rape (who I viewed to be) one of their strongest female characters.
Luckily Tyra gets away, and Landry arrives to help with the fallout. She's understandably shaken and terrified that the rapist will come back - and she has reason to be worried. In the episodes that follow she's stalked by the guy until he picks his moment and attacks again - while she's waiting outside a convenience store for Landry to get snacks (I'm sorry - who does that when they're worried they're being trailed by a crazy person?? Waits outside alone?). Again Tyra has to fight for her life and does as viciously as she can, and once Landry returns the two fend him off. (And by fend him off, I mean accidentally kill him. I warned of spoilers!)
This episode really shook me, I think because I viewed Tyra as such an intimidating presence. None of the boys in school wanted to mess with her, and she exuded a powerful presence beyond just her height. There are times in my life when I wonder what I'd do in such a situation - it was one of the main reasons why I wrote this comic. So three cheers to a depiction of a strong female character fighting off her attacker - yay Tyra!
Oh, and as a sidenote - I'm so, so bummed that Adrianne Palicki got her chance to play Wonder Woman ruined by such an awful script. Boo. Can we have someone write WW for TV that wants to make it good? Please?
Past Kick-Ass Women: