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Can we be inspired by strong midlife women on TV?

Article by Ceri Wheeldon

So much has been said about the lack of roles for actresses  ‘of a certain age’ , but is the tide turning? Recently I have been watching a number of programmes on TV where actresses in their 40s and 50s have been taking centre stage – in meaty roles.

I have picked out just a few – they may be fictional characters but can they also inspire us in real life?

Alicia Florrick The Good Wife

Alicia Florrick The Good Wife played by Julianna Margulies

Whenever I get together with one particular friend, at some point we always end up talking about one TV series in particular – The Good Wife. For those who are not familiar with it, the 7th series is currently showing on More 4…I missed the first 6 series ‘live’ but came across the programme on Netflix. The lead character Alicia Florick is the wife of a high profile politician who gave up her own career to support her husband and raise their family-  when a scandal hits, and her husband ends up in jail, Alicia has to resurrect her legal career – moving from being the ‘good wife’ to forging a career  and standing for public office in her own right. Starting in season 1 as fairly timid, taking a back seat to her husband and his political ambitions, we see Alicia’s character gaining in confidence and strength as she becomes successful and independent. Not afraid to take chances, the new Alicia pushes the boundaries and refuses to settle for second best while still being there for her family. She dictates the terms when dealing with her marriage to her ambitious husband and

Lessons to learn? It’s never too late to establish yourself in a career – and have confidence in your own abilities.


Elizabeth McCord  Madam Secretary played by Tea Leoni.

Elizabeth McCord is a former CIA Agent who becomes Secretary of State when the incumbent dies suddenly in a plane crash.  She juggles the affairs of state with steely determination by day, then coming home to a husband and 3 children – working to maintain as normal a life as possible for her children . While having the more successful career, her husband in the show is very much an equal in their relationship, while his own career takes a back seat his unwavering support helps her cope with the demands of her role. It is with her husband that she can share her weaknesses – and he is quick to give her the strength she needs to carry on – a true partnership.

Lessons to learn? Women are terrific when it comes to diplomacy, and being a successful career woman is not a barrier to having a strong marriage and family life.

Catherine Cawood Happy Valley


Catherine Cawood  Happy Valley played by Sarah Lancashire

While still coming to terms with the suicide of her daughter,  Catherine Cawood becomes the pillar of strength holding her family, colleagues and community together. Facing tough decisions and dealing with her own demons, Catherine none the less there for others when needed. Although viewed at times as being difficult and demanding.

Lessons to learn? Catherine shows that you don’t have to be liked to be respected, and that you can find strength in adversity…and showing your emotions does not detract from being seen as strong.


Miss Mardle Mr Selfridge played by Amanda Abbington

Always conducting herself with dignity, Miss Mardle  was always the consummate professonal in her role at Selfridges, while handling the rejection of her long term lover, Mr Grove as he married a much younger colleague, with both grace and dignity.  Throughout her changing circumstances due to an inheritance, Miss Mardle stayed loyal to her friends, and did not let her personal pride get in the way of future happiness when given the opportunity to marry her long term love- years after his initial rejection of her.

Lessons to learn? Staying true to your values can lead to life long friendships – and happiness.


Diane Lockhart The Good Wife played by Christine Baranski

A named partner in one of the top legal firms in Chicago, Diane has truly earned her success, and likes to mentor other women so that they can achieve the same.  A strong sense of loyalty to those she works with , Diane manages her law firm in an even handed  and fair way.  She has a working wardrobe to die for ….fabulous necklaces ….and is not afraid to be a woman in what was in the early days of her career very much a man’s world.

Lessons to learn ? You can be successful in a male dominated profession and still retain your femininity


All of these are roles portraying strong women. Who inspire you?



Ceri Wheeldon

Ceri is Founder and Editor of Fabafterfifty.co.uk She is a frequent speaker at events and in the media on topics related to women over 50 , including style and living agelessly. With 20+ years experience as a headhunter Ceri also now helps support those looking to extend their working lives.

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