You know a “Karen,” don’t you? I’m sure you do. And I bet she’s a solid, loyal and fun-loving soul.
But not according to the internet! The name “Karen” has been demonized online for a while now. Somehow “Karen” has become synonymous with a self-righteous middle-aged woman. You know the type: The one who loves coupons, reverse mullet bobs, and, above all else, speaking to the manager.
And suddenly she’s all over social media. Every viral joke starring that really annoying woman doing really annoying things? Yep, she’s inexplicably and unacceptably always a “Karen.”
Recently the crisis escalated when Tropical Storm Karen threatened the East Coast back in September. The storm's name whipped social media into such a frenzy that #Karen was trending on Twitter. Internet trolls went wild, shooting out priceless gems like, “Tropical Storm #Karen gonna speak with every manager on the Eastern Seaboard,” and also, “Watch out for #HurricaneKaren, President of the PTA, she’s looking for other moms to volunteer.”
“Karen” is now so maligned, mommy blogs reported in 2017 that the baby name is teetering on extinction. She tops the list of the most endangered female names alongside “Donna,” “Bonnie” and “Dorothy.” (Sorry, Donna, Bonnie and Dorothy.)
Well, you know what? It’s time for “Karen” to rise again. Here’s proof why the internet has it all wrong:
Karen Walker, “Will & Grace”
The show may be titled “Will & Grace,” but its true star is Karen Walker, the cheeky, filthy-rich New Yorker played by Megan Mullally. She was a trailblazer in 1998 when the show first premiered; like the show’s title characters, Karen and the eccentric Jack McFarland (Sean Hayes) helped lay the foundation for gay man-straight woman best-friendships on TV. (“Will & Grace” is widely credited with changing views about the LBGTQ community.) And not only is she Jack’s partner in crime, but she also delivers the best lines of the show, like, “Because I’m a lady, assface,” and, “You say potato, I say vodka.” She’s smart, sassy, hilarious and the kind of friend who has your back. Thank you, Karen — funny lady, loyal friend, game changer.
Karen Hill, “Goodfellas”
In “Goodfellas,” arguably one of the greatest gangster movies ever made, mob wife Karen Hill, played by Lorraine Bracco, more than delivers in her share of the film’s iconic scenes. When Karen is dating her future husband, gangster Henry Hill, and he stands her up on dinner plans, what does she do? She screams at him in front of all of his super threatening, super scary mafia friends. And then they fall in love (naturally).
In perhaps one of the most memorable moments of the film, Karen gets rid of evidence of Henry’s drug trafficking, flushing pounds of cocaine down the toilet to save her family as the feds barrel down her front door.
“That’s all we had! Why did you do that, Karen?!”
Don’t mess with Karen.
Karen Carpenter, drummer and songbird
The voice of Karen Carpenter, one half of the hugely popular sibling duo the Carpenters, was just heavenly. She and her brother, Richard, dominated radio stations in the ‘70s with pop songs like “Rainy Days and Mondays,” “On Top of the World” and “Close to You.” And not only did she sing like an angel, she also played the drums. She was off-the-charts cool. The tiny brunette who always wore pussy bows and bell bottoms radiated with so much talent. Though she tragically died young (at age 32 from heart failure brought by anorexia), her legacy lives on. Karen was a gift.
Karen Stack-Umlauf, the Chicago Bulls’ first female coach
In the world of professional basketball, Karen Stack-Umlauf is a history maker. She got her job as an associate coach of the Chicago Bulls, a larger-than-life sports franchise, after more than 30 years working in administrative roles for the team. Her decades of loyalty and dedication landed her a dream role with the team, one that includes game preps, scouting and working with assigned players at practice before games. She’s also a mother of two teen daughters. Karen does it all. She goes for it — and wins.
This is all to say: If you happen to see a “Karen” at a Target asking for the manager, just know she’s just trying to do some good. Maybe she’s helping fellow shoppers out by calling attention to that person in the express checkout with more than 10 items. Maybe she’s demanding someone help the little old lady who needs assistance and is too afraid to ask.
Everyone needs a “Karen” in their corner: a fiercely loyal champion of the underdog, a take-no-prisoners badass.
Because that’s so “Karen.”
And I should know!