10 of the best TV shows with strong female leads

Feb 1 2018, 2:57 pm

Written for Daily Hive by Veronnica MacKillop

At the start of 2018, we’re seeing more TV shows that are telling important feminist stories. What’s more, these groundbreaking shows often have teams of strong women, leading from both behind the camera and in front of it.

In celebration of women killing the game on TV, here’s our list of feminist TV shows that will give you a break from the norm while providing future inspiration.

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The Handmaid’s Tale

Image: Hulu

Where: Hulu
Status: One season, season two airs April 2018

The Handmaid’s Tale is a show about a dystopian future where women are forced to bear the children of the elite. While the second season is no longer relying on source material created by Margaret Atwood, the Canadian author is still very involved in season two. We know that the new season will focus on Motherhood, and will answer some long-time questions with the book, as well as new questions created with the first season.

Broad City

Image: Comedy Central

Where: Comedy Central
Status: Four seasons, fifth season confirmed

At its core, Broad City is about the importance of female friendship. The show is based on the real life friendship of its creators and stars, Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson. It focuses on the two unapologetic feminists struggling to make it through their 20s in New York City, with the help of each other. Broad City is a perfect example of a feminist TV show in many ways, and it’s never afraid to tackle topics that most shows wouldn’t.

Grace and Frankie

Image: Netflix

Where: Netflix
Status: Four seasons

Grace and Frankie is about two older women, played by Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, who are forced into an unlikely friendship after their husbands fall in love with each other. This show is also about the importance of female friendship, as well as the struggles women inevitably face as they get older. Both characters, as well as the supporting characters, are hilarious and relatable, even though they’re from a rather upper-class world.


Image: HBO

Where: HBO
Status: Two seasons, third season confirmed

Insecure explores social and racial issues from the viewpoint of its four female protagonists, who are all women of colour in their 20s and 30s. The main character, Issa Dee, is played by Issa Rae, who is also the creator of the show. The character Issa is awkwardly trying to find herself after ending a long-term relationship, sometimes with the help of her friends. The show is not only hilarious, but makes important points about the day-to-day life as a Black woman.

Alias Grace

Image: CBC

Where: CBC
Status: One season

Alias Grace is a six-episode miniseries adapted from another Margaret Atwood novel from 1996. The series tells the story of Grace Marks, an Irish immigrant and servant, who is accused of murder. The show is largely created by women, and plays with Grace as an unreliable narrator in control of her own story, instead of relying on easy sympathy points.

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She’s Gotta Have It

Image: Netflix

Where: Netflix
Status: One season, season two confirmed

She’s Gotta Have It is a series created by Spike Lee, based on his 1986 black-and-white movie of the same name. The main character, Nola Darling, is a young black woman living in Brooklyn who describes herself as “a sex-positive, polyamorous pansexual.” Nola is an artist, and very much a feminist. She is constantly calling out blatant sexism, and is a great example of a woman who knows what she wants, and doesn’t let men feel like they own her or her body.


Image: MTV

Where: MTV
Status: One season, cancelled

Although Sweet/Vicious was unfortunately cancelled after one season, the 10 episodes are as entertaining as they are important political statements about rape culture. The show follows two female college students who take matters into their own hands when it comes to dealing with rapists on campus. Sweet/Vicious is comparable to a movie like Kickass, except all of the bad guys are rapists who got off too easy.

The Bold Type

Image: Freeform

Where: Freeform
Status: One season, seasons two and three confirmed

The Bold Type follows the lives of three women in their early 20s who work for a magazine in New York City. The show is inspired by the life of Joanna Coles, former Cosmopolitan editor-in-chief. It focuses on the struggles women face in the workplace, and showcases hard-working, professional women in a fairly realistic way. Although often compared to shows such as Sex and the City, The Bold Type is empowering in its own right, finding a unique voice in today’s day and age using feminism and brave storylines.

Dear White People

Image: Netflix

Where: Netflix
Status: One season, season two confirmed

Dear White People is a Netflix original series, and serves as a followup to the movie of the same name. Although the show focuses more on racial issues than feminism, the protagonist, Samantha White, is a strong female lead who is willing to fight for equality on her mostly white campus.

Big Little Lies

Image: HBO

Where: HBO
Status: One season, season two confirmed

Big Little Lies is a dark, comedic drama series about a mysterious murder that’s continuously teased throughout the show. The series follows the complicated relationships between three female protagonists. It covers topics such as domestic abuse, the emotional trauma of being a rape survivor, and the complications of being a mother. In season 2, fans can look forward to three-time Oscar winner Meryl Streep joining the cast as a grandmother.

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