Television shows have evolved over the years, moving from mainstream themes like pure romance, family drama, and action. Most film and TV series creators today base their shows on real-life situations, like politics, governance, feminism, social justice, and many other societal issues. The basis of feminism is equality of all people and the empowerment of women. Not all TV shows which have lead female characters have feminism and female liberation as themes. Superhero shows like Supergirl and drama thrillers like Homeland, How To Get Away With Murder, Agent Carter and Scandal are among series which have female cast as lead characters. Feminist TV shows offer much more than just having female lead characters. The shows cover the challenges women from across the world face in their quest to make it and how hard women work to achieve set goals.
The last decade has seen a rise in TV shows that have women playing badass roles. The themes in TV shows made in the 2010s are diverse, inclusive and liberal. TV show creators make such series to encourage open-mindedness among the masses and to show that both men and women can work together for the betterment of the world. You can watch feminist shows on Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Freeform and Amazon.
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2019 has been an excellent year for the shows that focus on female characters. Derry Girls, The Bold Type, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and Big Little Lies are some of the feminist shows in 2019 that have a wide viewership. Here are 15 best feminist TV shows that you should watch.
- 1 1. The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
- 2 2. Big Little Lies
- 3 3. The Bisexual
- 4 4. My Brilliant Friend
- 5 5. Godless
- 6 6. The Bold Type
- 7 7. Killing Eve
- 8 8. Bodyguard
- 9 9. Glow
- 10 10. The Deuce
- 11 11. The Handmaid’s Tale
- 12 12. Vanity Fair
- 13 13. The Marvelous Mrs Maisel
- 14 14. She’s Gotta Have It
- 15 15. Queen Sugar
1. The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
IMDb score: 7.7/10
This Netflix show is based on ‘Sabrina the Teenage Witch” tale. The first episode of ‘The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’ aired on 26th October 2018. In the series, Kiernan Shipka plays the role of Sabrina Spellman who is a half mortal and half witch. Sabrina consistently stands up to what is right even when her aunts, Hilda, and Zelda, whom she lives with disagree with her. Sabrina is an embodiment of female empowerment in the show. She stands for her values and challenges authority, which includes Father Blackwood, a man who bases his views on patriarchy and misogyny. Sabrina is the hero every friend needs. The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is among the best feminist TV shows on Netflix in 2019.
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2. Big Little Lies
IMDb score: 8.6/10
The HBO series is based on Liane Moriarty’s novel with the same title. The first episode was aired on 19th February 2017. The series whose main cast includes Shailene Woodley (Jane Chapman), Nicole Kidman (Celeste Wright), Reese Witherspoon (Madeline Martha), Laura Dern (Renata Klein), and Zoe Kravitz (Bonnie Carlson) is about suburban parenting and friendships between women. The women work together to better their community and gang up against any harm directed towards their children. The series also has dark themes including murder, mystery, broken relationships between husbands and wives and malice.
3. The Bisexual
IMDb score: 5.9/10
The comedy series premiered on 10th October 2018. Leila (Desiree Akhavan) lives with her girlfriend Sadie (Maxine Peake), and together they share life as lovers and partners. Leila, however, gets to realize that she is a bisexual at some point, and later on, breaks up with Sadie. The Newyorker Leila has to try and live her best life as a bisexual in London. Leila then gets into a relationship with Gabe (Brian Gleeson), who also faces a fair share of challenges in his love life. The Bisexual shows how women try to discover their sexuality, bond with their feminine side and make relationships work. The free spirit and sense of humour displayed by the cast make the series worth watching.
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4. My Brilliant Friend
IMDb score: 8.6/10
The American-Italian drama series was initially released on 18th November 2018. ‘My Brilliant friend’ is an adaptation of Elena Ferrante’s novel that goes by the same title. The main cast of the series which is filmed in Italian includes Gaia Grace, Margherita Mazzucco, Elisa del Genio, and Alba Rohrwacher. My Brilliant Friend explores the hardships women go through as they exist in a world that is not very friendly to them. It also shows how women overcome day to day challenges. The plot of the series is also about friendships between girls and how women were oppressed in 20th Century Italy.
IMDb score: 8.3/10
The first episode of Godless aired on 22nd November 2017. The mini-series is about the lives of women who live in a town whose larger population consists of women. Gang leader Frank Griffin (Jeff Daniels) hunts for Roy Goode ( Jack O’Connell), and ex-protege who betrayed the gang. Roy keeps running and ends up living in La Belle, N.M with a widower, Alice Fletcher (Michelle Dockery). When word reaches the women in La Balle, N.M that Roy is in their town, they all gang up to protect themselves. The men in La Belle, N.M perished in a mining calamity, leaving the women to take care of the town. Merritt Wever, who played as Mary Agnes, had a strong character and was excellent in challenging masculinity.
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6. The Bold Type
IMDb score: 8.1/10
The Bold Type is one of the most loved feminist shows in 2019. The series which premiered on 20th June 2017 is about feminity, career, and physical, mental and sexual growth. Three best friends, Katie Stevens as Jane Sloan, Aisha Dee as Kat Edison and Meghann Fahy who plays Sutton Brady, share their life and work together as each tries to climb the corporate ladder. The three friends who work for a magazine called Scarlet have a fantastic boss, Jacqueline (Melora Hardin) who understands women’s needs.
The TV show is thrilling as we are taken through the lives of the experimental and fun loving girls as they work. Race, sexuality, feminism, the corporate world, and fashion are the dominant themes in the show. If you are looking for the latest feminist TV shows in 2019, then you should watch The Bold type.
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7. Killing Eve
IMDb score: 8.3/10
Killing Eve is a thriller series that revolves around the lives of a government agent and an assassin. The first episode aired on 8th April 2018. Eve (Sandra Oh) is a spy who finds her work to be monotonous at some point. She works as an MI5 security operative. Villanelle is a trained assassin who despite having a series of unstable moods still does her job as required. The two women soon get to link together, and one can see the obsession between the two as Eve goes after the assassin.
Other cast members include Carolyn Martens played by Fiona Shaw, Kim Bodnia as Konstantin, and Owen McDonnell as Niko Polastri. The series is entertaining, showing the different abilities women in various fields possess. Killing Eve has a lot of drama that will leave you electrified.
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IMDb score: 8.2/10
The Netflix series is about a war veteran, David Budd (Richard Madden), and how he rubs shoulders with women of influence in his line of work. David’s primary task is to protect the home secretary, the Right Honorable Julia Montague (Keeley Hawes). Julia is no average woman. She takes her position seriously and makes some men cower in her presence. She is as powerful as she is controversial.
Julia may not be loved by everyone, but her character is that of a distinct lady. The British series is mainly about the Royalty and London’s Metropolitan Police Service. In Bodyguard, we see that women can be as tough as men in any sector. Other main characters include Sophie Rundle as Vicky Budd, Vincent Franklin as Mike Travis and Ash Tandon as Deepak Sharma.
IMDb score: 8.1/10
Glow features the pretty ladies of wrestling who boldly show their different personalities on TV. Notable cast members who played strong characters include Alison Brie (Ruth Wilder), Betty Gilpin (Debbie Eagan), Sydelle Noel (Cherry Bang), Britt Baron (Justine Biagi) and Britney Young (Carmen Wade). The women are living in Los Angeles in the 1980s and work to gain fame. The series is full of drama as buddies turn into adversaries, as others entertain the masses to eke out a living. It is an entertaining show that highlights the issues women face every day as they try to survive and co-exist with others. The first episode was aired on Netflix on 23rd June 2017.
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10. The Deuce
IMDb score: 8.1/10
In The Deuce, the viewer is taken back to the porn industry in New York in the 1970s through 1980s. The show does not just focus on the life of sex workers, but also how women modify bodies for more confidence and other personal reasons. The story in The Deuce is told from a female perspective, and the viewer is shown how sex trade has progressed over the years. Through the cast Eileen’ Candy’ Merrell played by Maggie Gyllenhaal, Donna’ Darlene’ Pickett played by Dominique Fishback, Abigail Parker played by Margarita Levieva and others, we are shown the positive side of embracing sex work like any other profession. The HBO series was first aired on 25th August 2017.
11. The Handmaid’s Tale
IMDb score: 8.5/10
‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ is a Hulu web television series that is based on Margaret Atwood’s novel by the same title. The series first aired on 26th April 2017 and stars Elisabeth Moss, Yvonne Strahovski, Alexis Bledel, Joseph Fiennes, and Max Minghella. The Handmaid’s Tale could not fail to make in the list of best feminist TV shows. It focuses on women’s rights and freedoms, feminine health, equality, and sexual harassment. The series is set in an authoritarian state where women are only seen as beings created for procreation.
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Women in The Handmaid’s Tale are forced to live like helpless humans in a society which is filled with totalitarians. The story is narrated by Offred (Elisabeth Moss), a handmaid who despite being modest in what she does, tries to make plans to defy the patriarchal setting. The series has been used to compare some of the policies in President Trump’s administration. The government seems to ignore some issues like reproductive health, planned parenthood, and equality.
12. Vanity Fair
IMDb score: 7.3/10
The ITV TV show is based on William Makepeace Thackeray’s novel with the same title. Vanity Fair first aired on 2nd September 2018 and starred Michael Palin as William Makepeace Thackeray, Olivia Cooke as Becky Sharp, Tom Bateman as Rawdon Crawley, Claudia Jessie as Amelia Sedley and Johnny Flynn as William Dobbin. Vanity Fair tells the story of poor Becky, who tries to ascend financially, given she comes from a humble background.
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Becky, who lives in the era of Napoleon, goes through struggles to beat the system in English society. We see how difficult it was for women to break barriers and live freely like men. Becky’s rendezvous, romantic flings, and relationship with her peers make an exciting plot.
13. The Marvelous Mrs Maisel
IMDb score: 8.7/10
The comedy series is about a Jewish wife who uses comedy to get to the other side of life. Miriam ‘Midge’ Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan) lives the ideal life any woman her age could want. She has a beautiful family, a loving husband, and amazing kids. Her life is perfect by societal standards. Something however happens, and Mrs Maisel discovers that she has a talent in comedy. Mrs Maisel moves through night clubs having gigs and soon hooks up with a club manager, Susie Myerson(Alex Borstein).
The relationship between the two women grows from being professional to personal as they get close and become good friends. Through Mrs Maisel, the viewer is shown what happens when women get out of their comfort zone. The marvellous Mrs Maisel is among the most commendable feminist shows to watch.
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14. She’s Gotta Have It
IMDb score: 6.7/10
‘She’s Gotta Have It’ is a Netflix comedy series that stars DeWanda Wise (Nola Darling), Anthony Ramos (Mars Blackmon), Lyriq Bent (Jamie Overstreet), Cleo Anthony (Greer Childs) and Chyna Layne (Shemekka Epps). The plot is about a woman, Nola, and the three men she dates simultaneously. Nola is fierce and determined. Her sexuality and relationships do not, however, define her as she is the master in her own game. She is also charming to her female friends who adore how she lives. Nola tries to balance her love life, career, and social life. The series has many humorous scenes that are both amusing and real. She’s Gotta Have It was first aired on 23rd November 2017. The series is ranked as one of the best feminist TV shows today.
15. Queen Sugar
IMDb score: 7.5/10
Queen Sugar premiered on the Oprah Winfrey Network on 6th September 2016. The plot is about a Louisiana family that has to put aside their differences to run the family’s sugarcane farm. Nova Bordelon (Rutina Wesley) is a journalist an activist who is concerned about the welfare of all. Charley Bordelon West (Dawn Lyen Gardner) is the wife of an NBA player and works hard to be the first black woman to own a mill in Louisiana.
Ralph Angel (Kofi Siriboe) is the other sibling who is also concerned about the farm. Aunt Violet (Tina Lifford) and their friend Remy Newell (Dondre Whitfield) offer support when need be. The siblings work in unity, even amidst the differences they have for a common goal. The girls shone in their roles as they displayed excellent leadership qualities and courage.
Feminism is not the only theme that the shows listed above focus on. The feminist TV shows initiate conversations that were previously ignored. Diversity, sexual liberation, dismantling the patriarchal system, fighting misogyny and generally combating the social, economic and political inequalities that women face are the pillars of shows in this genre. The TV shows help kill myths that are, on many occasions, believed to be true. Feminism is sometimes misconstrued to mean the belittlement and disrespect of men. This is not true as feminism is about equality for all sexes. Some of the listed feminist TV shows stopped running after a few episodes. Majority of them, however still air and continue being renewed for more seasons. Most of the shows are also produced and directed by women.
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