Zooey Deschanel? Yawn. Her Older Sister Emily is the Female MacGyver

I don't like to say it aloud—I have two sisters and I know how competitive they can be—but in this case, it's true. Emily Deschanel makes her younger sister, Zooey, look bad. It's not Emily's fault she's so damn good at playing Dr. Temperance Brennan, a forensic anthropologist on Fox's hit TV show Bones. I mean how do you outshine a woman whose character uses the airbag explosives of the car she's buried in to try and dig herself out of a grave. (If you don't know what I'm talking about watch episode nine of season two. Then punish yourself for not knowing by listening to one of Zooey's songs.)

To be fair, it's not as though the older Deschanel was always a hot bombmaking geek. (I can call her hot. I'm secure in my womanhood.) But I didn't know her before Bones. And the chances are you didn't either. Until 2005, when Bones premiered, her career was made up of smaller roles in major films—think receptionist in Spider-Man 2—or slightly better roles in smaller productions.

She had more than 15 parts before she found her place on primetime TV. And she's pretty perfect as the intelligent—if hyperrational in an Asperger's sort of way—Brennan. We aren't just talking about a woman who eclipses her FBI partner, played by David Boreanaz—one of the yummiest former vampires to ever exist—she also never seems to be phased by the gore-filled storylines: Bloodied child-beauty-pageant contestant in a water-filtration plant in season two. Not a problem. Human remains found in a barrel of wine in season four. All in a day's work. Having a psychic—played by Cyndi Lauper—lead you to 12 murder victims in last week's season premiere. Hey, it's what the woman does. She's strong in a Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman meets Xena sort of way. Hell, she's the female version of MacGyver.

Maybe that's why she seems like the better Deschanel. She plays a solid character extremely well. She owns her work, and that's probably why I can't stomach little Zooey, who oozes sugary sweetness with her puppy-dog eyes and indie-princess status. Sure, the 29-year-old actress-singer has some talent, with leading roles in Elf and 500 Days of Summer. She's even recorded an album with M. Ward as half of the duo She & Him, and sang in a commercial for cotton—"the fabric of our lives." But every role (and almost every song) is about the same. There's just some part of me that feels like she can't decide if she wants to be Neko Case or Annie Hall. So it's not that she's particularly bad, her sister is just that much better. (And more likeable if you ask me.)

I'm sure Zooey has her partisans, which most likely include any guy who's ever bought a pair of Chuck Taylors (disclosure: I own a pair). And they may have a few choice words for a girl that prefers strong actresses in roles where the female character has a little backbone and some brains. That's fine. I'd still take Emily Deschanel and bloody murder over the touch and feel of cotton any day.