The TV Set: Sally Draper - A Hannah Or A Marnie?

25 June 2012 | 2:57 pm | Andrew Mast

From Ayra Stark to Meg Griffin, we ask, "Are they a Hannah or a Marnie?" (NOTE: May include spoilers but does not include Zooey Deschanel.)

With Lena Dunham's Girls now at season's end, it all gets a bit harder to find young sisters doing it for themselves on our flatscreens. You may just want to sit around an inner city share-flat with your gal pals wondering if you're a Hannah, Marnie, Jessa or Shoshanna (are you flakey, sensible, free-spirited or a Baggage viewer?). Or you could seek out a post-hipster life in the Big Schnapple.

Or you could track down the next generation of independent young ladies hiding in your TV schedule. And that doesn't mean just waiting around for The Carrie Diaries to start airing on CW. That '80s-set, Miguel Arteta (Freaks And Geeks, Enlightened, Cedar Rapids) produced prequel to Sex And The City has only just been cast with AnnaSopia Robb (Tim Burton's Violet Beuaregarde) set to play the young Carrie Bradshaw alongside Ellen Wong (Knives in Scott Pilgrim) and Freema Agyemen (Doctor Who's Martha).

Despite Girls' homage to elder Bradshaw (it's hard to miss Shoshanna's poster), Dunham's series is about youth. It's That Girl's Ann Marie bff'ing with Skins' Michelle and Cassie. These Girls are so young that flashbacks take them to the glorious noughties of bangs, basement parties and The Knife.

Where else on the male-dominated plasmascape of TV can we find young female characters not reduced to soapie stereotypes. Desperate housedaughters abound - they can only choose between a teendom of serious study or loose living. But somewhere in our time-shifting viewing there are more burgeoning Hannahs, Marnies, Jessas and Shoshannas waging war for women.

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Arya Stark, Game Of Thrones.

Game Of Thrones

Many discounted Game Of Thrones as the ultimate fanboi fantasy epic were men saw women as either wives or whores. However, not only did it slowly unfold that women were the real power brokers (a witch in the warroom, another creating a king and one even hatching dragons while incinerated). But the quiet achiever has been the youngest Stark daughter Arya. As a nine-year-old she swaggered against the lessons in finery expected of a future lady. Instead Arya wielded a wooden sword with more competence than her brothers brandished their own wood (the adult Stark men are not as learned in love as the Lannisters from o'er Casterly Rock way). And although forced to swap gender to elude capture, Arya found her true power once she reclaimed her girlhood. As a Lord's cupbearer she became privvy to battle secrets and was soon playing god with the lives of those who crossed her.   

Unknown British actor Maisie Williams gives the Stark girl a ruddy freshness that draws her character's sideplot from b-story to main focus. Even as she becomes a serial killer by default, she remains the Stark you'd most want reining over your kingdom.

If Ayra was transported to Girls' NYC she'd have hired a hit on Charlie, Alex and Hannah's boss, and then taken over Adam's lead role in his off-off-Broadway play.

But who of Hannah and Ayra has seen their father in the most shocking scenario? What scars a daughter more? Witnessing a father's beheading or finding your father's naked, post-coital body lying helpless on the bathroom floor? Does Arya keep a diary?


Sally Draper, Mad Men.

Mad Men

Speaking of things that a daughter should not have seen... Don Draper's eldest child witnessed her step-nan polishing Sterling's silver. Mad Men's creator Matthew Weiner has been criticised for over-sexualising the young girl's character, but could it be because this is Sally's story? Instead of growing up to become a Jessa (a female Don), perhaps the adult Sally Draper presents this as a morality tale for later generations of NYC girls. Maybe Adult Sally's Mad Men is meant to deter Hannah and her sisters from becoming slaves to the cock like Carrie and her crew.

Hannah: "How's the city?"
Sally: "Dirty."


Gigi Kovac, Tangle.

She was tainted at birth. Born into the Melbourne suburbs, offspring of a brutish Ben Mendelsohn and a mousy Justine Clark. Along with her brother Romeo, she was branded with a name that dated faster than a harem pants' revival. Around her swirls political intrigue, sexual philandering, violence, corruption and a Russian cosmonaut her mum's obsessed with. A tourist in the adult realm, she has no friends her own age. How can she, she doesn't understand the playground rules of loyalty and keeping secrets? In season three, Gigi pulled all the strings that led to the melodramatic climax of both her school production and her family's fortunes. She just wants to be loved. 

So just how do you tell a budding Australian female actor, with dreams of Logies red carpet, that she needs to make Neighbours' Plain Jane Superbrain seem positively charasmatic by comparison. Gone are the days when that called for a very adult Susan Hannaford to spend years hunched over in loose-fitting tunics as the homely Kitty Sullivan. Gigi's Eva Lazzaro must risk banishment from the gangs of Home And Away starlets who menace the walkways of Crown Casino, in favour of adopting private school nerdette chic  - plaits and all. Instead she is already following the writer/director path (see her Tropfest entry below).

Gigi has witnessed acts akin to those seen by Sally Draper. And from this she learns how to manipulate the men in her life. Gigi is well on the way to landing a partner who will make coffee tables for her from found materials.


Meg Griffin, Family Guy.

The Family Guy

No character has been more put upon than the only daughter to the Griffins of Quahog. The list of humiliations that have been inflicted upon her is not dissimilar to the horrors suffered by the characters Jodie Foster has portrayed through the decades. Meg doesn't excuse the selfish and dangerous actions of her family, she just finds a way to get on with her own life.

Meg's alter ego Mila Kunis obviously brings her own experiences to the role. Despite having starred in a rom-com with Justin Timberlake and a video game-adaptation opposite Mark Wahlberg, Kunis pushes through.

Meg may have a future mapped out for herself of watching Jerry Springer TV beneath an altar honouring Sarah Jessica Parker - but we know she's at least untouched by the hands of loathsome men.


Lily and Jane, Louie.


Oh yeah, the never-still and always questioning offspring of Louis CK's onscreen persona are so going to be those Girls. Already living in NY, nothing can phase them - not even the body of a dead aunty on the kitchen floor.