Nicola Coughlan is calling for more complex female roles in television.
In an essay penned for The Guardian, the 34-year-old actress reflected on her career and expressed her hope to see more “complicated” female characters on screen.
Before she played Penelope Featherington on Bridgerton, Coughlan portrayed Clare Devlin on Derry Girls. The star recalled reading the script for the first time and thinking the characters were exactly what she’d been waiting for: “properly funny, obnoxious, unlikable at times.” But she also remembered the show’s creator, Lisa McGee, receiving a note to make the character Michelle (played by Jamie-Lee O’Donnell) “a little softer, less in your face and more palatable” and asking why.
“So much television allows for, even centers on, deeply flawed male characters, far less so women,” Coughlan wrote in the piece. “Would anyone give a note asking that Breaking Bad‘s Walter White, one of TV’s best villains, be a little sweeter? Of course not. It made me wonder how many complex women have been toned down, or removed from our screens, on the basis that women have to be likable above anything else.”
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