It’s really hard to find stuff to watch on TV that doesn’t make you cringe every three seconds because of all the misogyny. None of the shows I’m about to list are perfect in every way. If you’ve got a show to add to the list that’s perfect in every way, bring it on. I just don’t think that exists right now.
So, if you’re looking for something to watch, here are a few ideas:
Younger, TV Land, Available on Hulu
Younger sounds like it wouldn’t be feminist in any sort of way since it’s about a 40+ year old woman (Liza) who returns to the publishing field and tells everyone that she’s 26 so she can get hired. However, it’s chock full of funny, smart, and unique female characters like Liza’s best friend Kelsey (Hilary Duff), her boss Diana (Miriam Shorr), and her roommate/bestie Maggie (Debi Mazar). It’s a hilarious show with plenty of pop culture references that resonate with the younger generation.
Empire, Fox, Wednesdays at 8p
Although some say that it perpetuates stereotypes, there is still a lot of good here. Taraji P. Henson’s Cookie is arguably one of the most complex, multifaceted, and watchable characters on television right now. This present season is also the year of the woman for Empire with Cookie presently the CEO of the company and the fabulous Becky (Gabourey Sidibe) running A&R. Another strength of the show is Jussie Smollett’s character Jamal, one of the few black gay characters in a main role on network television.
You’re the Worst, FXX, Wednesdays at 10p, Also on Hulu
The show follows the relationship of Jimmy and Gretchen, commitment-phobic assholes who love each other. What stands out about this show is the consistently equal treatment the women characters receive in terms of screen time and who gets to tell the really funny jokes. The male characters aren’t the only ones allowed to shine. I’ve also appreciated their normalizing of abortion, their sensitive treatment of mental health issues and veterans issues all done in a humorous but touching way.
Jane the Virgin, CW, Fridays at 9p
As a Latina, I’m a sucker for a show with Latina main characters. I haven’t felt like a show really captured Latino families this well since Ugly Betty. I also love how they normalize speaking Spanish by always using subtitles for Jane’s Abuela. They have never pushed the character to speak English and they don’t seem to care that the viewer has to read subtitles. Another bright spot in Jane the Virgin is the attention that they have given to issues that are delicate in the Latino community such as abortion. With many Latinos having been raised Catholic, reproductive rights is still a difficult concept for many Latinos. Additionally, Jane’s father, Rogelio De La Vega, represents a Latino who isn’t full of machismo.
If you’re looking for something quick to binge watch, check out Glow. Glow is based on the real life experiences of women wrestlers in the eighties. There are a lot of feminist references in this series but sometimes I wonder why. The brand of feminism shown here is more consistent with present day feminism than the eighties. This is a fun show that is worth a watch.
Will & Grace, NBC, Thursday at 9p
Back in the day, Will and Grace changed the way that many straight folks saw gay folks and so they hold a unique place right now in these very scary times. It’s like they’ve come back solely because their brand of political commentary is needed right now. Like someone put a big gay bat signal up in the sky to summon them just after the 2016 election results were released.
Stranger Things, Returns to Netflix October 27
Eleven. Need I say more?
American Horror Story, FX, Tuesdays at 10p
This season is about a cult leader who convinces people to join him in murdering a bunch of people in order for him to promote his campaign of fear. There is so much commentary about Trump in this season, both overt and subliminal. There are times when it’s shocking how far they’re willing to go in their persecution of Trump but it’s awesome.
What I’ve always loved about AHS is that it doesn’t matter what gender you are: you can be the villain, the victim, the hero, anybody. Their history of diversity is strong but flawed. Yes, it was great that they had a transwoman character who was as amazing as Hotel’s Elizabeth Taylor but she was played by a cisgender actor. It’s stuff like that that tarnishes AHS’s feminist track record.
Superstore, ABC, Thursdays at 8p
This show, a workplace comedy set in a store which seems very much like Walmart, has an excellent diverse cast (though points are lost for casting an able bodied actor to play a character who uses a wheelchair). The show is diverse in terms of race, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, and age. As some reviewers have pointed out, the casting truly reflects who you see when you shop in similar retail environments. It’s a lighthearted and fun show that’s worth a try.
Broad City, Comedy Central, Wednesdays at 10:30p
Ok, I know. White feminism. I get it but you simply can’t deny the humor of Broad City. It’s fucking hilarious and very sex positive. The sex positivity of Broad City is far more purposeful than it has been on other shows (such as Sex and the City or the Golden Girls). Abbie and Alana’s sexual relationships are fully within their control and if there’s a joke, it’s about something that happened during that relationship. The joke isn’t just that they are women who have sex. Another great element of Broad City is that the two female leads don’t fight. Too often shows about female friendship turn into a “fight of the week” situation which only perpetuates that stereotype that women create drama and “cat fights”.
There you have it. Ten shows that won’t make you die inside entirely. Here are ten more honorable mentions:
Speechless, ABC, Wednesdays at 8:30. This is possibly the only mainstream show I’ve ever seen that offers such a well rounded depiction of an individual with a physical disability (also played by an actor with a disability). The comedy focuses on family dynamics and often highlights the stereotypes that folks with disabilities face.
Once Upon a Time, ABC, Fridays at 8p. We’ve got a Latina Cinderella now!
Grace and Frankie, Netflix. Because Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda. That’s why.
Sense8, Netflix. Sadly this was canceled but it’s been a feminist fan favorite.
Supergirl, CW, Mondays at 8p.
The X Files. It’s somewhat unclear if the show is coming back for another season but you can watch repeats on Hulu.
Holby City, BBC.
Grey’s Anatomy, ABC, Thursdays at 8p. Still one of the most diverse casts on television and, after all these years, they still have some awesome feminist storylines.