An Ode To Ren Stevens And Other Type A Girls On TV
Christy Carlson Romano turns 29 today. I’ll let you go have a long thought session about how old you just realized you are upon hearing that news. Now that you’re back and (hopefully) recovered, we can talk about Christy’s arguably (but not really) most iconic role: Ren Stevens on the Disney Channel series Even Stevens. While Shia LaBeouf played erratic troublemaker Louis Stevens, Ren was his responsible big sister who liked to sing about how we went to the moon in 1969.
Ren Stevens represents an early introduction for me to the Type A girl on television. You know, the hyper-organized, overachieving, conscientious, micro-managing ladies who drive their shows’ characters a little crazy sometimes, but everyone (including the viewer) loves them for it. Seeing a character like Ren was really significant for me as a kid because I related to her. While I didn’t have a goofy brother messing things up for me, I was (and still am) a version of that archetypal Type A girl. I’m a list-maker, a double-checker, an always-on-timer, a that-looks-dangerous-I’m-not-doing-that-er. It’s always fun to see Type A characters like that onscreen, even an extreme version.
So in honor of Christy’s birthday and in remembrance of Ren Stevens, the original Type A girl (for me at least), let’s take a look at some other memorable TV ladies with the same perfectionist streak. They might drive us up the wall sometimes, but in the end we can’t get enough of them.
The Control Freak: Monica Geller (Courteney Cox) on Friends
Every onscreen friend group has to have a dependable leader who will make sure that everything is organized and under control. That was Monica on Friends. She was called the glue that held the group together on more than one occasion. I’ll admit I find her incredibly annoying at times (her regimented planning of Phoebe’s wedding, her insistence that everything in her apartment has to go in exactly the right spot). But she’s human, as evidenced by her infamous messy closet and her overweight past. And I too have been known to stay up nights stressing about the fact that I left my shoes in the middle of the living room floor. Seriously, who does that?!
The Overachiever: Paris Geller (Liza Weil) on Gilmore Girls
It looks like having the name Geller predisposes you to being Type A. Paris Geller started the series as a mean girl hell-bent on destroying Rory Gilmore’s success. But as the series wore on she became sympathetic and downright hilarious as Rory’s “friend”/roommate. Tense and bossy Paris was an excellent foil to Rory’s wide-eyed sweetness. From locking herself in a homemade bunker as editor of her college newspaper to doing crafts to calm down, Paris was a hot mess of go-getterness. Responsible, over-achieving girls watching Gilmore Girls like to say they’re Rorys, but they’re probably all secretly afraid they’re Parises.
The Type A Mom: Claire Dunphy (Julie Bowen) on Modern Family
Moms on TV are often portrayed as micro-managing, nagging, scolding women who refuse to let loose. What I love about Claire is that she does all those things but she’s not 100% put together. She has embarrassing moments like getting her coat caught in an escalator while not wearing anything underneath it or getting drunk and offering to carry her gay brother’s baby. Sure, she stresses out about husband Phil’s antics, but she’s not ashamed to join in on a few of them now and then. She’s proof that “responsible” and “fun” don’t have to be mutually exclusive. And she goes all out on Halloween, which is so obviously the best holiday.
The Fierce Competitor: Jane Kerkovich-Williams (Eliza Coupe) on Happy Endings
First of all, if you’re not watching Happy Endings, get on it. Now. Second of all, Jane Kerkovich-Williams embodies everything I wish I was. She’s got impeccable fashion sense, she’s organized, she excels at pretty much anything she puts her mind to, she’s got an adorable husband, and she’s funny as hell. Jane walks into a car dealership to help her friend buy a car and finishes the episode with a job as a car salesman. She pepper-sprays her friends when they sneak into her apartment to surprise her with a birthday cake. Her list of loves goes: her husband, her sister, filing cabinets and hand sanitizer (in that order). She is confident and clever, and I think I’m in love with her.
If this crash course in Type A TV women has taught you anything, I hope it’s that you shouldn’t judge a label-making, couch-straightening, on-time lady by her perfectly styled cover. Because she’s probably a lot more fun than she seems. And a lot more of a mess. Definitely that.
(Lead Image: Tumblr)