5 Feminist TV Shows to Watch This Fall

In case you haven’t noticed, things are going relatively well in the feminist-TV realm. No longer are we forced to call a show “feminist” just because it has a lady crimesolver at its center! Nor because there is a lady who is funny in it, or even because there is a lady who runs the whole damn show! Here’s to hoping “peak vagina,” as one disgruntled male producer called the trend, lasts forever. Because, really, we’re more like at normal vagina, which is to say, close to 50 percent. Huge progress, yes, but also known as closer to equality.

Now. Onto our favorite shows for this fall (so far), new and old:

The Good Wife: This show is so damn good, isn’t it?

Homeland: This homeland-security drama is poised for a breakout season on the Downton Abbey level. It stars Claire Danes as, essentially, Kiefer Sutherland in 24. Yep, that’s pretty much all you need to know.

The Mindy Project: You knew this would be here. Creator/star Mindy Kaling, formerly Kelly of The Office, is a revelation here as an OB/GYN who’s got her career act together but is still working on her personal life. She combines killing it at work while still being super-girly (her character worships romantic comedies) while still making fun of all of the above (she knows romantic comedies are silly, but still). Yeah, hers is the latest in a string of female-driven comedies being compared to The Mary Tyler Moore Show. The fact that hers is created by and starring a woman of color shows we’ve made at least a little progress since the ’70s.

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News for Sexy Feminists: Saudi Sexism, Sleep Issues, TV’s Feminism for Men

Women in Saudi Arabia are once again being forced to hide the fact that they are, in fact, women. The state already requires women to cover their heads–and often faces–whenever they are in public. Now, Saudi Arabia’s Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (founded in 1940 to enforce Islamic law, which essentially means brutalizing women with sticks for infractions such as an exposed ankle or eye contact with a man) is requiring women with “tempting eyes” to cover them in public. First of all, what the hell does that mean? Doesn’t everyone have tempting eyes? Second, are you serious? Dear UN Human Rights Council: Ahem!

The Samuel L. Jackson narrated “Go the Fuck to Sleep” became a viral hit with frazzled, frustrated parents. But perhaps they should be reading it to themselves. A new Norwegian study reveals that poor sleep among women is a top contributor to chronic illness and pain, namely, fibromyalgia. Among study participants, even those with occasional trouble getting to sleep had double the risk of developing the musculoskelatal condition that affects the joints, muscles, tendons and other soft tissues–so you’re basically miserable all the time.

TIME’s James Poniewozik writes about the best new feminist characters on TV–and they’re dudes, citing Will Arnett’s character in “Up All Night,” one of our faves as well. But more importantly, Poniewozik writes, “Having more new sitcoms created by women is the best way to get more interesting and varied male characters on TV.” Fascinating point and we couldn’t agree more. If you look at the most dynamic casts on TV today — “Nurse Jackie,” “30 Rock,” “New Girl,” “The Office,” “The Good Wife” and (yes, still) “Grey’s Anatomy,” you’ll se one thing in common: Women are running these shows, or at least writing a heck of a lot of the episodes, in the case of “The Office.” Now that’s must-see TV.

Speaking about “The Office,” executive producer Mindy Kaling does a pretty awesome job of describing what it’s like to be a Sexy Feminist in this new interview with A.V. Club. Is there any wonder we’ve named her one of the leading ladies we’d love to see as the next Julia Roberts?


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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