Character Rundown with CourtneyK: Brainy Broads and Why I Love Them So Much

Long ago, in a television grainy and sans color, there lived shows where the “spunky best friend” or “wacky neighbor” face time was minimal. They were supporting cast with little heft to their own storylines

My my, how glad I am that things have changed!

Now the supporting cast has depth and dimension that, at least to me, carry the heart and soul of many of the shows that I watch. It’s no longer about the handsome leading man or beautifully flawless leading lady; no no, the time of the Brainy Broad has bloomed!

The two Brainy Broads that jump into my mind first are Abby Sciuto played by Pauley Perrette (@PauleyP) from NCIS and Penelope Garcia played by Kirsten Vangsness (@Vangsness) on CRIMINAL MINDS. Both play quirky and sincere women who bring welcome moments of giggles in otherwise very dramatic and sometimes gross shows.

The character of Abby Sciuto of NCIS is the adorable forensic scientist whose lab is both home to clue-cracking machines and a farting stuffed hippopotamus. Abby’s willingness to hug and seemingly endless sunshine-y determination are a direct contradiction to the outwardly tattoo-ed punk-rock-listening Goth on her outside. She is serious about her work and about her relationships with the other members of the NCIS team, but she also bowls with nuns. Her character is a wonderful out-of-left-field breath that makes me remember that there’s a bright side to everything; even the analysis of shell casings.

Garcia is the former hacker turned crime fighting computer ace turned public relations goddess from CRIMINAL MINDS. The writing for Kirsten Vangsness is perfection and her delivery of saucy flirting while simultaneously cyber-hunting a criminal’s past is perfection. Garcia brings the playful sexy into the brainy-side of crime fighting. Her heart on her sleeve, she never fails to deliver the critical info so that her team can bust the bad guy. When her character was shot, I silently cursed the writers and swore that “if they kill off Garcia I’ll NEVER watch this frakking show again!” and to me that’s the mark of a real solid fandom. When something happens to your favorite, you are willing to never watch again if they leave. I love the wardrobe the put Garcia in; the bright colors (including hair) and the wacky accessories bring a sense of frivolity to sitting in a dark room clacking away at a keyboard. It’s essential to her character that her character BE herself; when they dressed her as a “norm” a few episodes ago; yeah she looked great, but it seemed to dull her shine. Thankfully they had her character come to her senses and regain her wackiness within the episode.

Why are these Brainy Broads so appealing? Because they are US! The chicks who like to fiddle with computers or write code to playing video games until we win (damnit!) and get genuinely excited when there’s a BUFFY-fest on! It can be difficult to relate to the unflappable beauty whose seemingly only goal other than solving a crime is to also bag the man. Everybody wrinkles, why don’t their clothes?? But when someone is quirky, they become more relatable; their flaws are endearing and when they feel something, the viewer (or at least me) feels it with them.

The TV world needs more of these ladies with the funky personality, do ya hear me execs?? More please! Because if those types of characters are there, I will definitely be watching.


  • Dan

    Love Pauley. She is awesome and the reason that I watch the show. I like the story lines, the relationship with the characters and with the show having a lean toward the military and I get a lot of the language they use. I am always counting the moments too see what quirky thing she says and what crazy outfit she is going to wear. It is amazing that she was born in 69. Sorry Pauley, but you do not look it. The character brings depth to the show and how awesome our culture has changed, on many levels. Courtney, love your comments and insight. You add an angle that I don’t see until I read your thoughts. Thanks Courtney and keep it coming.

  • I love Garcia and I completely agree that she breathes a fresh of air into a show that can easily get dark and depressing. Garcia’s wardrobe and funky desk decorations are so special because there is so much attention to detail. Kirsten Vangness has tweeted some awesome behind the scenes pics that illustrate this. Great post! I just happened upon your site and I love it!

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