7 Female-Driven Shows to Watch This Fall

Have you ever found yourself watching a TV show and wondering, where are all the female characters? Or thinking, this was definitely written by a staff of men? Women are still underrepresented and underappreciated on TV, especially behind the scenes. A female writer, creator, or showrunner can drastically change the way a show portrays its female characters. It’s refreshing to watch shows with complex, interesting female characters (though, admittedly, it is sad that this is not a given for every TV show). So, here are 7 excellent shows created by and starring women for those rainy fall days when you want to curl up in bed and watch something good!

 

Fleabag (2016-2019)

Created by: Phoebe Waller-Bridge

Starring: Phoebe Waller-Bridge

Where to watch: Amazon Prime

Episodes: 12, about 30 minutes each

Fleabag in its entirety is only about 6 hours long, and I blew through the whole series in 2 days. This show will leave you emotionally exhausted, but also thoroughly satisfied, with many snorts of laughter and a few tears along the way. Fleabag is a show about a woman who is constantly seeking sex and constantly getting herself into awkward situations. It follows her experiences after the deaths of two loved ones, her strained relationship with her sister, and her search for more fulfilling romantic relationships. I’d encourage spacing the short episodes out if you can, but I’ll warn you now that you might not be able to. Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s voice as a writer is distinctive yet relatable, self-aware, thought-provoking, and so smart. If I can’t convince you to watch it, maybe its three Emmy wins will.

 

Jane the Virgin (2014-2019)

Created by: Jennie Snyder Urman

Starring: Gina Rodriguez

Where to watch: Netflix

Episodes: 100, about 45 minutes each

Jane the Virgin is adapted from a telenovela (a Latin American soap opera), so one might expect a lot of shocking twists, and boy, does this show deliver. Jane Villanueva (Gina Rodriguez), a religious young woman who has vowed not to have sex before marriage, becomes pregnant due to a doctor’s mistake, and madness ensues. But the madness is so clever! The use of meta-narration for comedic and dramatic effect, along with the unpredictable nature of the plot makes Jane the Virgin unique and innovative. I will admit, Jane the Virgin’s convoluted plots sometimes frustrated me, but it was worth it for the moments of pure, unadulterated love, happiness, and laughter. Jane’s relationships with her mother and grandmother are so, so heartwarming. When a character in the show feels intense affection, their heart literally glows. Watch Jane the Virgin, and you might find yours glowing too. 

(Note: the author does not endorse Gina Rodriguez’s words or actions.)

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (2015-2019)

Created by: Rachel Bloom & Aline Brosh McKenna

Starring: Rachel Bloom

Where to watch: Netflix

Episodes: 62, about 45 minutes each

I put off watching Crazy Ex-Girlfriend for a long time. The title and concept turned me off: a successful lawyer leaves her New York City job and moves to small-town California in pursuit of her high school summer camp ex-boyfriend. But Crazy Ex-Girlfriend takes everything you might assume about its characters and plots and turns those stereotypes on their heads. Yes, CEG is a musical comedy (each episode features two to four original songs), but it’s also a show about mental illness, romantic relationships, friendships, feminism, and sexuality. Bloom handles all of these important issues with grace, but also a whip-smart sense of comedy. Some of the most memorable musical numbers include “The Sexy Getting Ready Song,” “Let’s Generalize About Men,” and “I’m So Good at Yoga.” Months later, CEG’s songs are still stuck in my head and its characters are still in my heart.

 

Killing Eve (2018-present)

Created by: Phoebe Waller-Bridge

Starring: Sandra Oh, Jodie Comer

Where to watch: Hulu (airs on BBC America)

Episodes: 16, about 45 minutes each 

Killing Eve is just a fun show. I know that sounds odd considering it’s a psychological thriller about an assassin, but what else could we expect from the aforementioned Phoebe Waller-Bridge? The show follows the push-and-pull, obsessive relationship between Eve (Sandra Oh), a smart, grounded British Secret Service agent, and the powerful, fashionable, ridiculous international assassin Villanelle (Jodie Comer). Killing Eve is sometimes funny, sometimes terrifying, and always intriguing. The tension between Eve and Villanelle is like nothing else I have ever seen on screen. Season 2 definitely lacks a bit of structure without Waller-Bridge as showrunner, but it’s still a good watch, and you have plenty of time to get caught up now before season 3 airs next summer!

 

GLOW (2017-present)

Created by: Liz Flahive & Carly Mensch

Starring: Allison Brie, Betty Gilpin

Where to watch: Netflix

Episodes: 30, about 25 to 45 minutes each

Do you love 80s nostalgia? Are you a struggling artist? Do you like watching women exhibit their strength? If you answered yes to any of these questions, I think you might love GLOW. GLOW follows the fictional stars of Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, a real, infamously ridiculous television show that aired in the 1980s. Some of the “ladies” are aspiring actors, like protagonists Ruth (Allison Brie) and Debbie (Betty Gilpin); others are just looking for their 15 minutes of fame. The wrestling show-within-the-show hangs its success on offensive stereotypes and larger-than-life characters such as Miss America, the Welfare Queen, and Machu Picchu. But GLOW is really about this diverse, interesting group of women finding themselves, realizing they are so much more than these stereotypes, and developing deep bonds with one another.

Sharp Objects (2018)

Created by: Marti Noxon

Starring: Amy Adams, Patricia Clarkson

Where to watch: Amazon or HBO (hard to find, but it’s worth it)

Episodes: 8, about 1 hour each

If you’ve seen or read Gone Girl, you know that Gillian Flynn is a brilliant, crafty storyteller, and Marti Noxon’s adaptation of Flynn’s Sharp Objects is no different. Amy Adams plays Camille Preaker, a reporter returning to her small hometown in southern Missouri on a mission to unmask a serial killer targeting young girls. While revisiting her home, Camille must deal with not only her own traumatic memories but also with her estranged mother (the incredibly talented Patricia Clarkson) and her teenage stepsister (Eliza Scanlen). I won’t spoil anything, but the story takes some pretty disturbing—yet enthralling—twists and turns, dealing with themes of self-harm, mental illness, motherhood, and femininity. All of the acting in Sharp Objects is exceptional, but Amy Adams was truly robbed of an Emmy win; she gives the performance of a lifetime. I can’t recommend Sharp Objects highly enough.

 

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (2017-present)

Created by: Amy Sherman-Palladino

Starring: Rachel Brosnahan

Where to watch: Amazon Prime

Episodes: 18 (so far), 45 minutes to 1 hour each

If you loved Gilmore Girls when you were younger like I did, maybe it’s time for you to graduate to Amy Sherman-Palladino’s new show. The titular character is Midge Maisel, a “typical” wealthy housewife in 1950s New York City—that is until Midge’s husband leaves her for his secretary, and Midge starts to question her true purpose in life. She stumbles into stand-up comedy and soon realizes that it is something she both excels at and enjoys, much to the chagrin of her parents and ex-husband. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is written in the same witty, rapid-fire, cultural-reference-heavy dialogue you know and love from Gilmore Girls. Unlike Gilmore Girls, however, TMMM boasts gorgeous period costumes and sets, and impressive cinematography and editing. You may find yourself wishing TMMM would address the current events of its day more directly (its feminism comes mostly from the wealthy, white perspective; race is barely addressed), but it sure is fun to live in Amy Sherman Palladino’s whimsical, beautiful world for an hour.

 

Now, what are you waiting for? Put on some fuzzy socks, pop yourself some popcorn, open your streaming service of choice, and get started on your next show!

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