2018 was a landmark year for women in Hollywood. While Black Panther gave us strong and fearless female warriors, Ocean’s 8 brought together some of our favourite actresses, such as Sandra Bullock and Anne Hathaway, for the first all-female heist movie. American TV series are, also, not too far behind when it comes to producing women-centric shows.
Here, we take a look at some of the best American TV series with completely different, but equally inspiring female protagonists.
1. The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)
The Handmaid’s Tale is a dystopian take on reality. It tells the story of Offred and other women like her who are forced into bearing children for powerful, infertile couples. These women are stripped of their previous identities completely, which includes their names, and they serve as sex slaves to men who control everything in this totalitarian state. Although the premise of the series is anything but empowering for women, it consists of a majoritarily female cast. Moreover, it tells the story from a woman’s point of view, and highlights the importance of solidarity among women from different sections of society.
2. Jane the Virgin (The CW)
Jane the Virgin has not one, but several strong and independent female characters. Despite having her life turned upside down when she accidentally gets artificially inseminated by Rafael Solano’s sperm, Jane refuses to sacrifice her beliefs and dreams. Along with her fearlessness and unapologetic honesty, what sets Jane apart is her willingness to see the good in people. Jane draws this strength from her mother and her grandmother as the three generations of Villanueva women have each other’s backs through thick and thin.
3. Jessica Jones (Netflix)
After years of speculation about a Black Widow solo movie, Jessica Jones became Marvel's first female superhero to get an independent project. While Killgrave was the perfect nemesis to Jessica Jones, the protagonist herself is also a highly complex and layered character, which makes the series one of the most exceptional psychological thrillers.
4. How to Get Away with Murder (ABC)
When the show first aired, most viewers believed Annalise Keating was, probably, the most badass woman to ever grace our TV screens. The confidence with which she conducted herself, the eloquence and conviction with which she fought her cases in court and the unflinching manner in which she destroyed anyone who stood in her way were just some of the things that left everyone in awe of her. However, it’s soon revealed that everything wasn’t as it seemed and the perfect life that she supposedly led was a disguise for the deeply disturbing one that she actually led. Despite that, I think it’s safe to say that if you ever do want to get away with murder, it wouldn’t hurt to have Annalise Keating on your side.
5. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon Video)
Brought up in a time when women are taught to dedicate their entire lives towards serving their husbands, Miriam ‘Midge’ Maisel has the life that she has always dreamt of, until one day she finds a new passion which changes her life completely. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is the story of a woman who tries to make it big as a standup comedian in a man’s world.
6. Parks and Recreation (NBC)
Although all the characters are equally interesting and hilarious, Leslie Knope is clearly the heroine of this show. It is about a group of misfits who work at the parks and recreation department in the fictional town of Pawnee, Indiana. Leslie, with her ever-present enthusiasm and optimism, is the odd one out in an office full of disgruntled employees, and most of the show revolves around her trying to do something good for her town, but being stopped by ignorant people who do not know what’s best for them. Leslie is driven by her ambition, her willingness to work harder than is ever required and her fierce loyalty towards her friends and her town.
7. Crazy Ex Girlfriend (The CW)
Rebecca Bunch may not be a woman who inspires other people, but what sets her apart is how real she is. When she decides to abandon her picture-perfect life as a corporate lawyer in New York and moves to a small city in order to reconnect with her teenage crush, Josh Chan, whom she hadn’t been in contact with for several years, the title suddenly starts making perfect sense. Even though most of us found ourselves cringing at some of the things that Rebecca did to win Josh Chan’s affection, over time, Rebecca was able to outgrow her obsession and build actual, meaningful relationships with other people of the city. Rebecca’s journey throughout the series is a beautiful one. We learn about her insecurities, as well as, her struggle with anxiety, and somewhere along the way find ourselves in this brutally honest character.
Representation of all kinds of real and complex women on TV is important; not only because they provide us with intriguing storylines but also because they serve as role models for young women and teenage girls everywhere.