5 Feminist Shows to Watch This Winter

BunheadsGet your teen show fix from Amy Sherman Palladino’s returning ABC Family ballet drama, which is rife with great female characters of all ages. Will it change your life? No, but the banter will make your head spin.

Game of ThronesSticking by this one, too. The women of Westeros are getting more kick-ass by the second. We can barely even remember the dudes anymore.

Girls: Yep, we’re sticking by this one, backlash or not. It’s a great, gritty, realistic portrait of female friendship. It talks frankly about sex — and abortion, and HIV — like no show before it. Lena Dunham, love her or hate her, is a revelation, both for her balls-out writing style and her willingness to bare it all, literally, on screen, despite her unconventional (for Hollywood) body type.

The Good Wife: This show is so consistently good it makes us angry sometimes. And it’s feminist without wallowing in it. The amazing thing is that we stop thinking about “strong” female characters and just take them in when we’re watching. Afterwards, we realize how wonderfully varied, flawed, and admirable they are.

Portlandia: Yeah, they make fun of feminist bookstore owners, but in a loving way. And, hey, at least it’s a way to tackle feminism on TV! More importantly, Carrie Brownstein is a feminist goddess, and this show is just further proof. She rocks and does goofy comedy at least as well as the boys.


5 Feminist TV Shows to Watch This Spring

It might be the most feminist TV season ever — and not just because there’s no Bachelor at the moment! Here, a few of our favorites to put on your must-see list:

Girls: Let’s just say you’re not allowed in the young, cool feminist club right now if you don’t watch this show when it premieres April 15. Seriously, everyone is talking about it. It also happens to involve Tiny Furniture’s Lena Dunham, producer Judd Apatow, and a wickedly realistic take on life as a struggling, confused, terminally poor young woman. So, win-win.

Mad Men: The drama phenomenon has been hinting at the coming feminist movement since its storytelling began in 1960 (with plenty of ’50s sensibility left over). Now that we’re deep into the ’60s, there’s no escaping the impact of women’s lib. Peggy is now openly lamenting having to “act like a man” to get ahead in her job, while Joan showed her military hubby the door for dominating her for too long. Thanks to those ladies’ show-stealing turns, we barely even care anymore what happens to erstwhile philanderer Don Draper. Oh, and he’s having terrible guilty fever dreams about that, by the way; his seeming desire to make good to second wife Megan makes her more intriguing to us than we thought possible.

Veronica Mars: Yes, our favorite crime-solving teen is back, thanks to cable. SoapNet, known for its awesomely addictive repeats of such hits as The O.C. and One Tree Hill, is now running Veronica, which brought us Kristen Bell, noirish intrigue, and important issues in one package. Set your DVR for the April 15 marathon that kicks it off.

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5 Feminist Shows to Watch This Fall

This fall’s crop of new network TV shows certainly has the ladies in mind — from sitcoms to crime dramas to 1960s-set dramas (thanks for that, Mad Men!), every network seems to have turned into Television for Women. But just because a series has female main characters doesn’t make it feminist; yes, that means you, Playboy Club and Charlie’s Angels. Here, our seasonal picks for the most female-friendly shows on the dial:

1. Pan Am (ABC): What Playboy Club botches, this drama about stewardesses in 1963 gets right. The show gives us a look at one of the few ways women then could use their feminine wiles to buy themselves some real freedom — by taking to the newly friendly skies. But it also doesn’t deny the sexism inherent in the process — Pan Am girls had to be beautiful, could be grounded for not wearing their girdles, endured weigh-ins, and had to quit at 32 or when they got married. Also a plus: It’s good, soapy fun, with affairs, broken engagements, and even undercover-spy flight attendants!

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5 Feminist Guilty-Pleasure TV Shows to Watch This Summer

When it comes to serious feminist firepower on television, the regular season — that is, fall through spring — beats summer every time, with its Good Wifes and 30 Rocks. But, hey, fluffy summer fare can have its share of lady-power, too, even if it’s a little less … socially relevant, subversive, or substantial. Here, five shows we’re not ashamed to be indulging in as the temperature rises:

1. Hot in Cleveland: Four women over 40 living together, supporting each other, chiding each other, and having a great time doing it? If we can’t have The Golden Girls, we’ll take Valerie Bertinelli, Jane Leeves, Wendie Malick, and the beloved Betty White in this TVLand confection about three LA women finding a better life for themselves (that is, a bachelor population more receptive to ladies of a certain age) in the Midwest. Did we mention Wendie Malick and Betty White are in it?

2. Drop Dead Diva: Our former-stick-thin-model-reborn-in-a-plus-size-body has learned to love herself throughout the first two seasons of this ridiculous-premised, sweetly-executed Lifetime dramedy. We’ve loved her the whole time.

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5 Feminist TV Shows to Watch Right Now

We talked feminist TV shows just three months ago, but the networks are throwing new shows at us so fast these days, that we’ve got some new mentions (as well as old favorites) currently making our Top 5:

1. Body of Proof: In ABC’s new straight-up procedural, Dana Delany plays a neurosurgeon-turned-medical-examiner who helps solve murders. But, look at that, this time a woman gets to be the freakishly brilliant, quirkily abrasive one at the center of a broadcast network show solving the crimes! (Thanks, TNT and other cable channels, for pioneering that mind-blowing idea with the likes of The Closer.) Extra points for employing the always-brilliant Delany and giving her character a very real mommy complex: She’s estranged from her preteen daughter after years of dedicating herself to neurosurgery, and awkwardly trying to rebuild that relationship.

2. Game of Thrones: HBO’s is by far the best of the upcoming epic swords-and-sandals series you’ve undoubtedly seen advertised everywhere (along with Starz’ Camelot and Showtime’s The Borgias). I’m not normally into this kind of thing — it’s based on George R. R. Martin’s elaborate fantasy book series filled with about 3 trillion characters, mythical lands, mythical creatures, people with names like Eddard, and a big old war for the crown. (I didn’t even like Lord of the Rings. Sorry.) But the beauty of Game is in the layers — the multi-dimensional characters (no one’s 100-percent good or evil, though some come close on the evil side), the soapy machinations, the tons of sex. It’s also, surprisingly, in the female characters. Martin’s world is, alas, as sexist as medieval England (it matches the costumes), but these ladies are fighting it at every turn, from the conniving Queen Cersei (Lena Headey) to the bent-on-revenge Lady Catelynn Stark (Michelle Fairley).

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