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Gleefully Outrageous: The Sue Sylvester Family Tree

On Glee, Sue Sylvester plays the part of the big bad wolf at McKinley High. Will Schuester's greased hair quivers at the sound of Sue's footsteps. But, actually, all of Sue's antics have been done on TV before. In fact, she comes from a long line of obnoxiously self-absorbed women. Take a look at this line-up of outrageous older ladies and see the evolution for yourself:

Sophia Petrillo (The Golden Girls)
Sue Sylvester is a smarty-pants when it comes to scheming against the glee club, but the smartest of all was golden girl Sophia Petrillo. Remember when the girls went to therapy to work out their roomie issues, and the therapist advised them all to move on and out of the house? It was Sophia who saved the group during the final minutes with her straight talk. Sophia was even in favor of gay marriage. When Clayton, Blanche's brother, got engaged to a man, it was Sophia who broke through to Blanche, telling her, "Everyone wants someone to grow old with, and shouldn't everyone have that chance?" Blunt talk? Surprisingly progressive? Sounds like a track-suit-wearing cheerleading coach we know.

The Sugarbaker Sisters (Designing Women)
Sue Sylvester may be hypercompetitive, but in a knockdown brawl, my money would be on sisters Suzanne and Julia. Suzanne attacked the game of beauty pageants with a ferocity that Sue would appreciate, like when she won the crown of Miss Georgia by twirling her baton faster and farther than any before her. Julia was no slouch, either, as proven when she ran for a seat in the local board of commissioners -- sure, she lost, but it was because of her fierce, Sylvester-style diatribe against her opponent.

Karen Walker (Will & Grace)
Of course, Sue is renowned for her sarcastic one-liners. (My favorite: "That was the most offensive thing I've seen in 20 years of teaching, and that includes an elementary-school production of Hair.") But the original queen of sitcom put-downs had to have been Karen Walker. Like Sue, she could produce a musical-theater reference on the spot, like when she was fighting with Jack over divorce settlement money: "You're not getting 88 cents from me, Rose!" But, like the surprisingly soft-hearted Sue, Karen was willing to stick up for the occasional underdog, like when she vouched for Grace against their intern, telling her, "Watch your mouth, or I'll wash it out with cheap vodka." Sue's one-liners are contemporary and witty, but Karen's are timeless.

Samantha Jones (Sex & the City)
Sue is without a doubt one of the most self-confident characters ever on television, but even she might think twice before crossing Samantha. Who else would have the balls to throw a martini in their cheating boyfriend's face in front of a crowded restaurant, icing it with the classic line, "Dirty martini, dirty bastard." And you know what else takes guts? Popping up at a hunky, new neighbor's doorstep with a basket full of sex goodies. Can't picture Sue doing that... unless it involved a cannon.

What do you think? What outrageous old ladies from TV does Sue Sylvester remind you of?

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