Female-focused TV shows have been on the rise the past few years with feminism becoming more mainstream and female actors demanding more powerful roles.
I have chosen 8 of the best modern and older tv shows with females at the forefront of the narrative that I recommend to anyone looking for some female power on their small screens.
Big Little Lies
TV shows with culturally relevant messages.
With powerful names such as Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman as executive producers of this show, it was bound to be a tv show made to showcase the talents of a female-driven cast and also the more complex storylines women are capable of fronting.
On the surface, it may seem like a group of women competing with one another and being catty when in reality it goes much deeper than that.
In light of the #MeToo movement coming alive, this show tackles issues of sexual assault and how women cope with violence. The show is much darker than it seems as it continues to unravel.
With a powerful female cast and culturally relevant storylines, this show has been highly regarded and awarded.
In the end, it is shared experiences that bring these women together in solidarity and forms friendships.
Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Out of all the tv shows, Buffy The Vampire Slayer offers a badass female vampire slayer. What could be better for sci-fi lovers than that?
Buffy is a very accomplished fighter and killer, protecting the world from the threat of vampires and the destruction they can unleash.
Buffy herself is portrayed as rather masculine, moving away from typical portrayals of females and giving them the same qualities as a male would have in the same role.
She has the weight of the world on her shoulders as the chosen one but continues to fight on for the good of humanity.
This plot is very typical of a male storyline, such as Supernatural and Harry Potter as examples of fighting monsters and being the ‘chosen one’. Buffy The Vampire Slayer flips the script and questions why a female cannot be the chosen one to fight monsters.
Grace & Frankie
This comedic tv show provides us with a great comic duo we didn’t even know we needed.
Grace & Frankie’s husbands leave them for each other after coming to terms with their sexuality which leave Grace and Frankie newly single and forming a friendship with one another.
Now, it is not often that we see older females portrayed in TV shows the way Grace and Frankie are. The show often confronts stereotypes surrounding ageing and lead important discussions for feminists to engage in when it comes to the older generation.
The show brings conversations of sexuality to viewers from the mouths of an older generation who would not be expected to talk about sex so frankly and openly. It destroys the stereotypes surrounding older women that they are not allowed to enjoy their own bodies and sex just as the youth do.
Overall, it is rare to find TV shows with such a positive female friendship at the forefront where they support each other, have important conversations as well as open ones, and break stereotypes surrounding age.
America Ferrera carries this tv show spectacularly.
It centres around Betty Suarez who aspires to be a writer and editor for a magazine. Under less-than-pleasant circumstances, she finds herself in a secretarial job for the editor and chief of a fashion magazine, something that she herself has an interest in but not in the same way as others.
She is seen as someone far from glamorous. Her loud outfits, her braces, her weight all make her stand out in the workplace as someone who does not fit in.
As the show progresses she finds herself finding bigger and better opportunities and going through heartbreaks and family problems.
The tv show does a lot to show Betty as a strong woman from a Mexican family who works very hard to make a place for herself in the world. It also makes a lot of commentaries about immigration in the States and the lower classes of New York.
Betty is an inspiration to everyone who may not fit in with society to be authentic and never give up despite all those who may be against you.
Betty was never conventionally pretty or stylish, but she stuck by her dreams and aspirations and refused to compromise who she was for the sake of fitting in.
Ugly Betty deserves more recognition for the work it did.
Hear me out on this one.
Lizzie Mcguire is an amazing show that centres around a female lead who has strong friendships with Miranda and Gordo as well as a strong family unit at home. It is highly relatable to other kids’ own experiences growing up, maturing, and surviving high school.
Everything about Lizzie McGuire feels very real. Although some aspects may feel dramatised sometimes, I think it’s a very accurate portrayal of what it is like to grow up, go through puberty, and try to figure out who you are in high school. The smallest, most trivial things feel bigger than they are at a young age and Lizzie McGuire does well to capture the adolescence.
Lizzie is also a very real character for teens to look up to, seeing that she also struggles with things and is not always perfect but always strives to be a good person.
As someone who grew up with Lizzie, I am always grateful for this tv show.
Sandra Oh is an amazing leading lady.
Killing Eve promises a female-fronted spy thriller and it sure does deliver all that and more.
We see the story of two females, one a spy and the other an assassin become engaged in a thrilling chase, hunt even, for one another. It flips conventional female storytelling around and provides a typically male-driven story through the lens of females. It portrays these women as cold, stony, and controlled in their actions. They are powerful all on their own. Women here are portrayed as revenge-seeking and bloodthirsty, qualities only really seen in male-driven action and crime films.
It takes male-dominated narratives and makes them female because why can’t females be vengeful and bloodthirsty too?
If crime and thrillers are your style and you’re tired of seeing men dominate the genre, check out Killing Eve for a female approach.
A female superhero (an anti-hero at times) who proves herself time and time again to be very human in her experiences.
Jessica Jones is not a perfect hero. She is flawed and rough around the edges. She has trauma and some destructive methods of coping with it. But despite all this, she manages to use her powers to do some good and stop bad guys.
Superheroes have always been viewed as polished characters which are an aspect what lets them down at times. They feel too superhuman for the average human to relate to and emphasise with.
Jessica Jones is a character that does not feel far removed from the normal human experience and shows amazing character development through the series as she comes to confront her abuser and past trauma in order to save herself and others from him.
Jessica Jones is dark but more real than the average Marvel superhero film or series.
Jane The Virgin
A show with a Latina cast that brought the telenovela style to the mainstream media.
The show is melodramatic and the plot even wilder, but this is to be expected of the genre and as something that has been adapted from a Venezuelan series.
The series showcases the talents of Gina Rodriguez in a dominant latina cast and shows family life and complex relationships through telenovela style in a way that is still interesting to a mainstream audience.
It is rare to find a telenovela such as this on an American television network and even rarer to see it be so popular.
Typical telenovelas separate their female cast into certain archetypes; the fiery and brazen females and the demure, submissive and naive females. Jane The Virgin shows complexities in females that these portrayals miss out on.
It is relatively easy to watch and makes points about Latina women in American society. More relevant now than ever before are discussions about immigrants in America and how they fit into the culture.
Jane The Virgin shows latina culture through the lens of Latinas who have integrated with society. They are not jokes or parodies, they are real women who really exist in our society.