I love television. One of my favorite things is to curl up on the couch and settle in with one of my favorite shows. I get even more excited when I stumble across a show the features some pretty kick-ass women. More recently we’ve been given the gift that is The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, but that show comes after a long line of some pretty amazing women in TV. These shows kind of span genres, showing how much awesomeness women can offer to shows, be it in a fantasy TV show, a contemporary program, sci-fi, or a 30-minute sitcom. There’s something on this list for everyone, and I’ve most certainly missed some. Here are some of my favorites, but I hope you’ll add some of your favorites (and why you love them) in the comments!
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Buffy is one of those shows that sort of paved the way for “geeky” television shows that feature women. Buffy managed to walk that line of being a teenager, but also being a kick-ass character. She could handle just about anything that came her way, and she had an awesome group of friends to help her through whatever she came across, be it human stuff or supernatural. Really, I’m just all about anything that features some awesome supernatural throw downs and some interesting, dynamic characters like Buffy, Willow, Dawn, and Cordelia.
Gilmore Girls featured the sweetest relationship between a daughter and her single mom. Rory and Lorelai loved and supported one another, and I loved seeing another young woman on television who shared my complete devotion and obsession with books. Rory and Lorelai didn’t spend their time slaying any supernatural creatures, but they showed us how to be strong women, embrace our quirks, and chase after our dreams. Gilmore Girls is incredibly relatable, and it paints a recognizable picture of moms and daughters while still managing to be a legitimately fun and funny show. They also taught us how to talk superfast.
Agent Carter is just awesome, end of story. The basics of the story are super intriguing, as they carry on the story after Steve is frozen at the end of the first Captain America movie. So that alone makes Agent Carter fun for any superhero fan. However, the show is kicked up a notch because its protagonist is just so incredibly amazing. Agent Peggy Carter manages to balance her life and her duties for Howard Stark as a secret agent in a time where women weren’t allowed to do too much outside of their homes. Agent Carter can hold her own in the midst of anyone who might try to belittle her, and she’s able to get the job done, saving the world, and does it with flair. Agent Carter is just a great show, whether you’re looking for something to add to your Marvel TV-viewing, or if you’re looking for a healthy dose of girl power.
Parks and Recreation
Leslie Knope, the main character on Parks and Rec makes me want to be a better human. Seriously. She approaches everything she does with her complete best, she works hard, she is incredibly passionate, she has some amazing compassion for others, and she does literally anything for her friends. Leslie managed to be inspiring while still managing to be hilariously imperfect, and regardless of what those crazy Pawnee-ans threw her way, she never stopped trying. She also placed huge importance on her female friendships with Anne Perkins, April Ludgate (who is my sould mate, I believe), and Donna Meagle. All of those women had their own unique brand of weird, but they all loved each other, supported each other, and managed to seriously shake up Pawnee. I really just want to be Leslie Knope when I grow up.
The Walking Dead
Okay, so The Walking Dead is technically fronted by a male character in Rick Grimes, but it has been the host of a TON of awesome female characters, so I had to include it. While there have been a few unpopular female characters like Dawn, Lori, and Andrea, we’ve got some real badass women tearing it up in the zombie apocalypse. Two of my personal favorites are Michonne and Carol. Carol has managed to go from a quiet, wilting flower of a character to one of the most dangerous characters —male or female—on the entire show. I won’t get into any details to avoid spoilers, but Carol can hold her own in this post apocalyptic world, for sure. Michonne is another character who is brilliantly independent, but what makes her great is her amazing character development. She managed to go from a tough, feeling-less, katana wielding killer to a caring (though still katana wielding) mom/big sister and friend. All of the characters have been through a crazy journey, and it’s fascinating to see the very different ways the apocalypse affects each character. Also? Zombies are just awesome.
Game of Thrones
Game of Thrones features some of my favorite women on television. There are some obviously amazing characters like Daenerys Targaryen, the Unburnt, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains, Mother of Dragons…she’s got a hella long title. Anyway, Dany is easy to identify as awesome if only for that last part of her title, “Mother of Dragons”, but she’s defined herself as a serious contender in “the game of thrones”. However, the show also has some other incredible characters like Arya Stark, a young girl who is trying to find some sense of direction after she believes she lost her entire family—now training to become a Faceless Man…er, Woman. There’s also Sansa Stark, a once romantic and slightly annoying girl who has been through hell and has come on the other side as a pretty shrewd contendor for the Iron Throne. That’s not even half of the crazy awesome (and crazy evil) ladies that we meet in Westeros from Cersei Lannister, Brienne of Tarth, to Margaery Tyrell, there’s a lot to go around in the awesome lady category. Even better? One of the classic phrases from the show is Valar Morghulis, which is High Valyrian for “all men must die”. I you could argue that they mean “mankind”, but…
Okay, so Abbi and Ilana may not be cut-and-dried “role models”, but they have managed to portray women in such a real, hilariously honest way that you can’t help but love these two. They prove that women can be sloppy, they can be slackers, they can lack direction, but they still can have a ton of fun and a ton of love in their lives. I defy you to watch an episode of Broad City and not want to spend a day hanging out with these two. They are so irreverently hilarious, but they have a pretty fierce friendship that I can’t help but admire. Besides, I’m all about spending TV time with some chicks that make me feel okay about the fact that I don’t have all of my stuff together.
The Mindy Project
The Mindy Project is another one of those shows that features a woman who doesn’t have it all together, but is still doing okay. Mindy may be a doctor, but she still can spin out of control (like, for instance, getting too drunk at an ex’s wedding and driving a bicycle into a pool). She can sometimes be a bit self-centered (okay, maybe more than sometimes), but she still genuinely tries to do her best at being a good friend and a good person. On a completely shallow note, she also has some pretty awesome outfits. Mindy Lahiri is one of my favorite women on TV because she’s not a total hot mess, but she certainly doesn’t have it all together, but she’s still doing okay. I relate all too well with being half hot mess, half successful adult.
Orange Is the New Black
This show totally turned the idea of what a television show about women looks like completely on its head. If you have never heard of this show, it focuses on the lives of women inside of women’s penitentiary. The women range in age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and economic status, yet they are all put on sort of an equal playing field in prison. For a show about women serving time, OITNB is actually pretty hilarious, and incredibly addicting to watch. It’s a show that makes you rethink stereotypes, it makes you see past preconceived notions or long-held prejudices, and see people for who they really are—all while sucking you in to this crazy addicting world.
30 Rock features my weird, introverted soul mate, Liz Lemon. I’m not the type of person who likes to hang out at parties, make small talk with strangers, and who is more excited about the idea of strange men buying me cheese fries and leaving me alone rather than chatting me up over a vodka cranberry. I also love the fact that Liz’s best friend, Jenna Maroney, is an outgoing extrovert—something that also mirrors my real life, though my bestie doesn’t pronounce camera “ca-meh-rah” like Jenna. Liz gives us introverted, bookish, and nerdy girls an introverted, bookish, and nerdy woman to look up to. She’s managed to find a successful career in a field she loves, she’s surrounded by great (albeit weird) friends, and she even landed a guy who is head over heels over her particular brand of weirdness. Liz rocks, you guys.
What are some female led TV shows we should be checking out? Let us know in the comments!