I still remember the day when I started watching Major Crimes. It was on a far-too-calm evening in October a few years ago. I just had come home from spending a few weeks in London and was not in the best of moods as I missed the big city and its infinite possibilities. Back then I still used to scroll through my Tumblr timeline every now and then and that was when I encountered a gif that literally changed my life.
It was a 3-second animation of the stunning Mary McDonnell as Captain Sharon Raydor in the TV show Major Crimes. Unfortunately, I am not able to remember which gif it was exactly but it had to be of a scene taken from an episode in season 2. What I do remember quite clearly though, is that the three seconds the gif lasted were enough for this actress to have me completely and utterly fascinated. When you only see a picture or a gif of a person the first thing you really recognize are their looks. It is superficial and it pains me to admit it but it is all one can do in this particular case as there are no means to get to know a person’s character through only an animation or a photo. However, it was not just the incredible beauty and the immense charisma Mary radiated, it were the vibes of “I’m a fucking boss lady” that immediately made me fall in admiration with the character. So I dropped everything else I was doing, ignored my to-do list for university and all other responsibilities and went to look for the pilot episode of Major Crimes. It takes a few minutes for Sharon Raydor to appear on screen for the first time – which is fine, a lady makes an entrance after all – and when she does the entire dynamic shifts and suddenly the show is much more intriguing than it was only a minute ago. I actually had to pause the episode at this point to look up this stunning, talented actress online: Mary McDonnell. Actress who started out in theater. Family person. Feminist. Political advocate. Supporter of Hillary Clinton. Fighting for the rights of Native Americans. Respectful to fans. I was impressed and became not only a big admirer of Mary McDonnell the actress but also of Mary McDonnell the person.
Unsurprisingly, I watched all existing episodes of Major Crimes within a few days, admiring Sharon Raydor, her leadership, her humanity, her great capacity to love fully and unconditionally. It did not take long until I started watching Battlestar Galactica too and was fascinated by yet another fabulous character who touched my soul and who made me see that there really is no limit for us women. All three of these ladies Sharon, Laura and in particular Mary have enriched my life in so many ways ever since. They made me braver, kinder and more ambitious. They awakened my interest in politics, inspired me to be a more active feminist and to fight sexism and ageism like a lioness. They made me laugh and cry and they brought wonderful people into my life I would never have met otherwise.
Without Sharon Raydor, though, none of this would have been possible. The gif of Sharon started it all. It was what made me watch Major Crimes, what made me get to know Mary McDonnell, what made me watch Battlestar Galactica. Sharon Raydor has since become a constant in my life and it is hard to let go of her now. Very hard. And it is even harder to let go of her knowing she did not get the ending she deserved. In the last few episodes she has mentioned several times just how happy she is, that she has never been happier in her entire life. And what’s the next logical step after two days of happiness? Death apparently.
But regardless of the ending, I will always be thankful for her character. Mary McDonnell breathed life into Sharon Raydor, she gave her a soul and that is why we are so very devastated now. Because Mary made us fall for Sharon, she made her part of our life and thereby gave us a wonderful gift.
I will cry today and tomorrow and certainly every time I watch THE episode but I am so ready to see what Mary McDonnell is going to do next and I’ll be there every step of the way, cheering for her.