Pop Pedestal: Captain Turanga Leela
Welcome to another installment of Pop Pedestal, the series where we pay homage to our favorite characters from pop culture. Today, let us travel to the year 3000 to take a look at Leela of the animated series Futurama.
The Pedestal Profile:
Leela starts out the series working at a cryogenics lab where she unfreezes the show's protagonist (and her tireless admirer) Philip J. Fry. She soon leaves her unfulfilling job at the lab and becomes captain of the intergalactic, delivery spaceship Planet Express, where she has continued to kick butt ever since.
Leela was orphaned at birth and struggled with her identity her entire life. Being a cyclopean alien on Earth is hard enough, but when Leela finally meets her biological parents in season four she finds out she is actually a sewer mutant given up by her parents for the chance at a better, brighter life. Though she struggles with this self-discovery Leela eventually comes to terms with her true species and embraces her sub-terrestrial community.
Leela does not shy away from great responsibility as she readily accepts her post as Planet Express captain even through the setbacks and accidents that inevitably occur during each of Futurama's over 100 episodes.
Leela must contend with constant attention (and sometimes even harassment) from her co-worker Fry and former lover Zapp Brannigan. However, she never takes their crap, putting them in their places with either a sassy verbal comeback or a roundhouse kick to the ribs.
Leela is also a noted animal lover, having saved little three-eyed alien Nibbler just before his planet Vergon 6 was destroyed.
Lastly, Leela has naturally purple hair, which is awesome.
Leela's greatest influence is on the show itself. Without her, the rest of the Planet Express crew would be dead by now and, no doubt, so would Futurama. Without her as a main character the show would never have been brought back in 2008, a full five years after its original cancellation. Other than that, she has inspired some creative cosplay outfits, Futurama fan fiction, and a few facebook pages.
Also, this great YouTube video that mashes up Kelly Clarkson's "Miss Independent" with scenes of Leela kicking butt.
That's Not All:
If Leela's voice sounds oddly familiar it may be that you recognize it as the voice of the high-tech Colonial from the Disney Channel Original Movie Smart House. (Anyone remember that one?) Leela is voiced by Golden Globe-winning actress Katey Sagal, perhaps best known as Peggy Bundy from Married... with Children.
Think of her when:
You feel like you're the only one of your species on Earth. You may discover you were with your true family all along (or they were hiding in the sewers of New New York.) Either way, you can forge your own path and make your own place in the world no matter where you've come from.
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