In case you missed it, and in honour of International Women’s Day, here’s Emily Nussbaum’s recent article about her newly defined television archetype, “The Hummingbird.” Brought on by the pervasive discussions about the renewal of Enlightened, Nussbaum looks at its heroine Amy Jellicoe and several other female leads in current TV programs to define this new type of protagonist.
“They’re idealistic feminine dreamers whose personalities are irritants. They are not merely spunky, but downright obsessive. And most crucially, these are not minor characters. On each show, the Hummingbird is a protagonist—an alienating-yet-sympathetic figure whose struggles are taken seriously and considered meaningful.”
Nussbaum lists Jellicoe along with Carrie Mathison (Homeland), Leslie Knope (Parks and Recreation), and Sue Heck (The Middle); discussion on Twitter has since also suggested Lisa Simpson, Hillary Clinton and her film shadow Tracy Flick (Election). Elements of the archetype can be seen across shows such as Mad Men, Community, and Friends.
It will be interesting to see if this archetype becomes as ubiquitous in use as the “manic pixie dream girl” – interesting and exciting, since the former has become one-dimensional and cliche since its conception. The Hummingbird is a character with depth, one that requires a show like Enlightened devoted to her (or his) unpacking and understanding.