Use your holiday downtime to check out some fantastic feminist TV

As I enjoy holiday vacation, I’m be updating some posts featuring feminist culture you can enjoy on your travels or in your holiday downtime. Today I’m adding to my previous post of feminist TV shows you should binge watch.

lake

  • Top of the Lake. This miniseries created by feminist director Jane Campion is a great vehicle for Mad Men’s Elisabeth Moss. She plays a detective in New Zealand investigating the disappearance of a 12-year-old pregnant girl. It also features Holly Hunter as the leader of a community of women who have set up camp on a piece of land they call “Paradise.” It’s full of fascinating female characters and interesting takes on abuse of women and relationships.

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  • Orphan Black.Chances are you’ve heard a lot of people, especially feminists, singing the praises of this show. The amazing Tatiana Maslany plays a slew of characters in this sci-fi series, and imbues each and every one with depth and nuance. Aside from just being fun to watch and bursting with compelling female characters, the show has lot of interesting things to say about bodily autonomy and control over women.

borgen-rules

  • Borgen. This Danish show follows Birgitte Nyborg, a politician who unexpectedly becomes Denmark’s first female prime minister. There is lots of intrigue for political nerds like me as we watch Birgitte navigate the parliamentary system and try to move her agenda. There’s a bit of progressive political fantasy in seeing politicians promote policies that wouldn’t have a chance in the US (though I don’t love all her policy decisions). Aside from the political maneuvering, we also see gender issues play out through work/life balance for Birgitte and the husband who has put her career ahead of his own. Birgitte is one of many prominent female characters, including Katrine, a rising star in journalism. After a long period when this show was difficult to find, it’s finally available on iTunes for American viewers.

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  • Battlestar Galactica. One of the most remarkable things about Ronald D. Moore’s reboot of the 70s sci-fi series is the way he casts women in roles that had would usually be held by men. (One of the actors from the original series put out a crazy rant about how horrible the newly “feminized” show is–if this guy hates it, it must be great.) While there are plots related to issues particularly to women, such as control over reproduction, what’s particularly refreshing is to watch a show where it’s just accepted that mechanics, the president, the best fighter pilot are women and it’s not even commented upon. In addition to watching kickass women in action, there’s fascinating plot and political allegory addressing the Iraq war, torture and more.

The+Fall

  • The Fall. This British series about a serial killer is probably the creepiest thing I’ve ever seen (spoken as someone who avoids scary movies like the plague). If you’re tired of shows featuring women as victims of violence, this might not be the show for you. Unlike many crime shows, you know who the killer is and watch him and the team working to catch him in tandem. It’s worth recommending for the fantastic performance by Gillian Anderson as the gruff, highly competent detective in charge of the case who is also unapologetic about her sexuality.

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  • Friday Night Lights. I really didn’t think I’d ever get into a show about football. I will admit to both getting bored during some of the pure football parts and to tearing up unexpectedly at football victories. One of the things this show is best known for is its portrayal of a strong, happy marriage between Coach Taylor and his wife Tami. Tami is a wonderful role model and asserts herself in her relationship while also being a supportive spouse. The parents have good, frank discussions about sex with teenagers, and the show handles an abortion subplot in a compassionate, realistic way that is far too rare on television.

master of none

  • Master of None. Working with Netflix gave Aziz Ansari the opportunity to make a funny, heartfelt, groundbreaking show that takes on issues rarely addressed on television. In addition to great examinations of the struggles of immigrants and the lack of diversity on television, the show focuses an episode on sexism and deftly shows how the same person can be against sexism in some forms and oblivious to it in others.

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  • The Good Wife. I came to this show several years after it debuted. I figured I wouldn’t necessarily be that interested in this network show, but once I started bingeing I couldn’t stop. It’s immensely satisfying to see a show centered around a woman in her 40s who is both excellent at her job and has a satisfying (though complicated) love life. There are many other strong female characters, including legal partner and feminist political player Diane Lockhart, and the show also uses the legal format to take on topics like abortion and rape culture.

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  • Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. A lot of people were not surprisingly turned off by the title of this show, but I decided to check it out once it started getting critical buzz. The show (which points out that the title is sexist right in the credits sequence) explores relationships and mental illness with an impressive variety of musical production numbers in every episode. It’s darkly funny and entertaining. There are only 8 episodes to watch right now, but they’re worth your time, and I look forward to seeing what they do when they come back from the holiday break.

jessica jones

  • Jessica Jones. This is one of my holiday watching endeavors. I’m only halfway through the season, but I already feel confident recommending it as compelling feminist watching. I know next to nothing about the Marvel Universe and still enjoy this, so if you’re in that camp, don’t let it deter you. Krysten Ritter is fantastic as the powerful, complicated, hard-drinking heroine. Her conflict with the terrifying Kilgrave becomes a fascinating exploration of abuse and consent.

What are your favorite feminist TV shows? Share your recommendations in the comments.

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Author: Rebecca Griffin

I am a passionate advocate for progressive causes with over a decade of experience organizing for social change. That organizing experience informs the way I look at the world and the challenges we face in working toward social justice. I started Of Means and Ends to write about social issues I care about and share my thoughts on how we organize in a smart, strategic way. Please visit and join the conversation.

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