My Life Coach Plan for Alyson Hannigan and Casting Directors Everywhere

Alyson Hannigan tends to take parts in shows that turn out to be wildly popular and last for years. For that reason we usually see her as a sweetheart of a character for long stretches of time.

Alyson Hannigan in Buffy the Vampire Slayer 1997
Alyson Hannigan in Buffy the Vampire Slayer from 1997

The result is that when we think of Alyson Hannigan we think of the nerdy and loyal best friend in Buffy the Vampire Slayer or the funny, mild-mannered wife on How I Met Your Mother. A 7 year run and a 9 year run. Long runs as one character.

Alyson Hannigan, Josh Radnor, and  Cobie Smulders in How I Met Your Mother from 2012
Cobie Smulders, Alyson Hannigan, and Josh Radnor in How I Met Your Mother from 2012

Her long-running gigs make us forget something: Alyson Hannigan can do a whole lot more than we think she can as an actress. She’s had these two iconic parts in two iconic long-term shows that prevent her from showing different stuff. I believe she’s got different stuff to show.

Dark Willow in Buffy the Vampire Slayer was awesome. Alyson Hannigan nailed Dark Willow. Scary and very sexy. Alyson played flamboyant and over the top in Veronica Mars, even though her part was small there. I’m giving you those two cases as examples of different stuff.

Dan Aykroyd, Jon Lovitz, and Alyson Hannigan in My Stepmother is an Alien from 1988
Jon Lovitz, Alyson Hannigan and Dan Aykroyd in My Stepmother is an Alien from 1988

She’s been in about a billion things since her first listing from 1985 on IMDB – movies, TV series, animated shows. Obviously, she can act. My point is, you probably don’t think of her as one of those talented actresses who can do everything well.

I think you should.

As the unappointed and unwanted life coach for Alyson Hannigan, I have some post How I Met Your Mother suggestions. I hope she’ll spend some time doing a few guest spots on wildly different shows – a lone survivor on The Walking Dead and some evil archetype on Once Upon a Time and a quirky visiting doctor on Grey’s Anatomy and a murderous Soviet spy on The Americans. Mix it up. Remind everyone that she’s got the different stuff.

Then she can go find another steady job that will last 7 or 8 years.

Casting directors everywhere should be reading this and taking it to heart. Hello? Casting directors?

Watch This: First 2 Minutes of Veronica Mars, the Movie

Just in case you wanted to go see the movie Veronica Mars and don’t know the TV series that spawned this lady detective tale of female empowerment, here is the whole story. It will be the first two minutes of the new Veronica Mars movie.

Now you know the rest of the story, you are free to attend the movie.

Watch This: Theatrical Trailer for Veronica Mars

Although we’ve been getting all kinds of pre-release peeks at Veronica Mars, this is the first actual official trailer. It gives you a lot more insight into what’s going on in the movie’s plot.

Bring it!

We Need More Young Geeky Female Role Models on TV

In my other life as a web educator, I spoke on a panel at WordCamp last weekend. The panel was billed this way:

Developer Diversity: The Mars/Venus Thing and WordPress
Moderator: Karen Arnold
Panelists: Suzette Franck, Alison Barrett, Daryl L. L. Houston, Virginia DeBolt, Mark Casias

The discussion was about how to get more women in tech fields, among other things.

One of my talking points whenever I get to talk about this is to bring in how pop culture affects perception. I like to bring up the acceptance of gay couples on TV, the changing acceptance of openly gay people in our everyday world, and the changing acceptance of the idea of gay marriage. I think the visibility of gay characters on TV has changed the majority attitude of society. It’s my example of what needs to happen to visibility for girls in tech.

If that worked for LGBT visibility, why wouldn’t it work for women in tech? Why wouldn’t it work for girls who are interested in science and math, but who drop the idea around middle school in favor of being popular or not viewed as geeky and weird? If they saw a lot of geeky teen girls being successful and in leadership roles in popular shows, I think it would change attitudes.

If you can get girls through middle school still owning up to their interest in science and math, they can go on to careers in those fields. But they hit middle school and nerdy girls get teased and bullied and don’t get the attention of cute boys. That could be changed to a large degree by pop culture. We need to reframe and reset the popular image of female geeks.

One of the audience members at the panel discussion pointed out the geeky women in both NCIS shows, and one on Numb3rs. That’s great, but those aren’t shows that young girls are watching. There is a geeky female character on Big Bang Theory. I think young girls probably watch this show. Am I missing any current shows?

Where we really need geeky female characters are on shows like Pretty Little Liars that millions and millions of teen and pre-teen girls are watching.

Alyson Hannigan as Willow Rosenberg
Alyson Hannigan as Willow Rosenberg

We need more characters like Tina Majorino as Mac on Veronica Mars or Alyson Hannigan as Willow on Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Miranda Cosgrove as Carly on iCarly.

A lot more characters, not just one every few years. In fact, I’ll say that every show aimed at pre-teens should feature a geeky female character – hackers, programmers, scientists, and engineers who are teen girls or young women and are leading characters in an engaging drama or comedy. Geeky girls with lots of friends, interesting adventures, and a great personality.

It would make a difference.

Veronica Mars image @TheCW. Buffy the Vampire Slayer image ©Mutant Enemy Productions

Veronica Mars Movie Sneak Peak (Video)

This Veronica Mars movie sneak peak was released at the recent San Diego Comic Con (SDCC). In case you aren’t aware of the back story, the money for this movie was raised in a Kickstarter project. The funding goal was raised in almost seconds (just a slight exaggeration). The Kickstarter project raised millions beyond its goal. It is one of the biggest fan-driven fund raising events to date and the start of a new trend in how movies get made.

Fans will get their movie in 2014.

If you missed Veronica Mars when it was a TV series years ago, it’s available via streaming services, and it’s worth watching. She’s a high school girl who helps out in her dad’s detective agency. I know, high school kids – I’m so beyond that – but it’s a good show.