The most interesting female characters on TV are on an HBO show with an almost all-male cast

In praise of the surprisingly strong women of Silicon Valley

Amanda Crew and Suzanne Cryer star in Silicon Valley.
(Image credit: HBO/John P. Fleenor)

In this golden age of television, our favorite shows are simply packed with emotionally rich, well-observed characters. Many of the strongest are women: Daenerys Targaryen on Game of Thrones, Selina Meyer on Veep, Olivia Pope on Scandal, Claire Underwood on House of Cards, Carrie Mathison on Homeland, and on and on. But there are two exceptional female characters on a popular HBO show that rarely receive the attention they deserve: Laurie Bream and Monica Hall on Silicon Valley; the same show that, for good reason, frequently receives criticism for being too heavily dominated by young and entitled white males.

Let's look first at the socially awkward and hyper-focused Laurie, played by TV veteran Suzanne Cryer. She steps up to captain Raviga Capital after its billionaire founder Peter Gregory dies (Christopher Evan Welch, the actor who played Gregory, unexpectedly died in real life, necessitating this plot development). Raviga is the main investor of the Pied Piper start-up at the heart of the show, making Laurie a powerful figure. She regularly demands face time with Richard Hendricks (Thomas Middleditch) and his gang of geeks, and has no qualms about putting them in their place. She removes the nervous and inarticulate (but brilliant!) Richard from the position of CEO in the company he created, hiring the more experienced Jack Barker as his replacement. When she realizes her mistake, she readily admits it, and places Richard back in charge. She is unafraid to act boldly or admit fault. She is a spirited female character who exists not as cheap eye candy or a boorish love interest, but as someone who challenges her colleagues, holds her own against her ambitious male counterparts, and takes remarkable leaps of faith in calling the shots that determine their career trajectory. In fact, Laurie quite often seems to be the smartest person in whatever room she's in.

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Trilby Beresford is a freelance arts writer from Australia, who currently resides in Los Angeles. Her writing has appeared in Amy Poehler's Smart Girls, Bullett Media, Geek & Sundry, American Film, Nerdist, Flood Magazine, and numerous other publications. Trilby has an M.F.A. from the American Film Institute Conservatory and a B.A. from the University of Sydney.