It’s not hard to find yourself sucked into a television show these days. We are truly living in a golden age of television where there is everything to be watching right now. The perks often come with a price, mostly your Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBOGo accounts.
And with this new age, I am always looking for shows that are reflective of the strides we have taken in media production. In terms of more nuanced and clever storylines, more than the love triangles, or girl who’s boy crazy or just a sidekick to the male lead. I look for shows with female characters and actresses I can look up to, hope to emulate, and to inspire me.
Thankfully, today that is not hard to look for. With our streaming capability now for both beloved stories of the past and present, it’s refreshing to be able to see so many shows representing females as they truly are, showing stories that are actually relatable, honest, and not derogatory towards our sex. Here are some recommendations below if you are longing to get down with your feminist side!
1) Parks and Recreation
Perhaps one of the best female characters written for television, Leslie Knope is the shit. She runs the parks and recreation department of her beloved small town, Pawnee, along with dealing with whatever shenanigans are thrown her way by her coworkers. Played by the impeccable Amy Poehler, the show focuses a lot on Leslie’s ambition to succeed with her career while not making her give up her love for others to do so.
If you hate shows that wait forever for the girl to get the guy, or other unnecessary love plots, then this show is for you. The romantic relationships feel natural and are not the core of any of the female characters. From Leslie to April to Donna, and yes even lesser favored Ann; the show does a great job of showing different kinds of strong women and friendships.
2) Gilmore Girls
While there are a lot of story-lines that revolve around romance, at the heart the show is about three strong women: Lorelei, Rory, and Emily. And with the upcoming revival, Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, we will get to continue that journey of seeing where they are now.
Witty, ambitious, and not afraid to speak their mind, the Gilmore women are definitely role models. Although we may not always agree with their choices like cheating on your significant other or stealing a yacht with a beau, they prove that mistakes lead to growth. And at highs and lows, female familial relationships can help lift you up.
3) How to Get Away with Murder
In terms of plot, this may seem like a stretch but this is a show that is first and foremost carried by one force of a woman: Miss Viola Davis. Is her character a moral and great person? Not so much. While Anneleise may not be the best person, she is still a boss in her very being.
As are the other female characters on the show like Bonnie, Laurel, Micheala, and Rebecca (RIP).It’s refreshing to see that women can make mistakes, but not be punished for them because of their sex but because they are merely human. This is seen in how they lie, murder, and manipulate just like the men on this show. It’s an equal playing field which makes for a great watch.
4) Jane the Virgin
Another breath of fresh air is this delightful series playing on the classic telenova tropes. Jane, our protagonist, tries to deal with love, motherhood, and her career while also be trapped in this dramatic genre. It also doesn’t hurt that Jane happens to be played by the wonderful Gina Rodriguez, the epitome of a role model especially for young women.
While there is still romantic conflict and the classic love triangle, the twists the show manages to do in making it central to the plot and brought about in a new light that makes it feel worthy instead of tiring. There’s also a lot of focus on the relationship between Jane and her mother who had her very young and is now trying to find her own path. There's also Jane's abeula who deals with generational and immigration issues. Funny, charming, and emotionally resonant, you can’t go wrong.
5) Call the Midwife
Speaking of charming, if you haven’t gotten hooked on this series yet you are missing out. With the fifth season just being released on Netflix, there’s no better time to be binge watching this lovely BBC drama. Following several midwives in 1950s London, your heart will be taken on a lovely and unforgettable journey.
It’s based on the actual experiences of Jennifer Worth, with her experiences lifted and expanded upon throughout the run of the series. It’s history brought to life from the female perspective, putting us in situations we face now that were dealt with so differently regarding women’s’ rights and mothers’ rights. Topics like adoption, abortion, mental illness, substance abuse are explored and more! You’ll get sucked in so fast you’ll wish you would have found it sooner.
6) Bomb Girls
On the lines of historical dramas, Bomb Girls will also be your jam. Previous to Call the Midwife set in the 1940s and in Canada, this series centers around a group of women who work in a factory making bombs during World War II. In a male dominated setting, talking about issues that still resonant with us today it truly could not be more important to watch.
What makes the concept so great as well is it helps us imagine what we would do in the position of a woman trying to be acknowledged or rise up during this time. Suffragette will still very well at play as well as sexism, and just because we don’t hear about these great women during this time doesn’t mean they didn’t have that desire to stand up for themselves and prove their worth. So was the war effort a way for women to assert their independence or further lose it? You’ll have to tune in to find out.
7) Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
If you’re looking for less serious and more upbeat, than Kimmy Schmidt is your girl. Though it can veer into an almost cartoon like quality, Kimmy is at heart a woman worth looking up to. This is proven in the ways in which she has the guts to start over, confront the past, and be unapologetically you. And the problems she has can be relatable in trying to keep a job, a date, and maintain lost familial relationships.
We also see similar to Parks and Recreation witty and passionate female characters (Jacqueline, Lillian) with big hearts and ambitions. Even if that means having to completely abandon who they used to be or deal with while their relationships and environments are changing, they all keep going. They find new ways to deal with changes as well as how they are changing, that are ultimately for the better. Finding ways to explore how changes affect us as well as the strength to keep on going is inspiring.
8) Broad City
For a funny show about women created by women, Broad City is where it’s at. The show follows two young women, Abbi and Illana, as they strive to get by in life in short in New York. For a show where women are able to vent, mess up, be silly, lazy and not give any cares about it is delightful.
Humor, heart, and hijinx, and more! And especially in terms of having female characters who we could relate to more, Abbi and Illani fit the bill. They smoke pot, don’t want to settle down in terms of relationships, and want to do something, but struggle in getting the actual courage to do things. Their struggles are one in the same, theirs to ours.