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Must Watch: Movies and TV Series With Feminist Messages

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Nanyang Tech chapter.

Movies and TV series with feminist messages or interesting female character arcs, (other than the usual ‘just a supporting character’, (cue Hermoine) have always captivated me. Here are some of my favourite movies and TV series with feminist messages that maybe you too will enjoy!

1. Enola Holmes 

Enola Holmes initially caught my attention because it is a spin off of Sherlock Holmes. In the original franchise, most of the attention is on him, and in the original book series, Enola is just a side character for the development of Sherlock’s character. However, in this movie, her experiences are spotlighted and we get to witness her development as a teen/young adult, navigating a world outside her comfort zone. But besides Enola, the character that really shone through for me is Eudoria, her mother. She teaches Enola things that the misogynistic world would never even spare a chance for girls like Enola to learn. At the beginning, she disappears, almost playing into the absent mother archetype, but makes a comeback at the end, where it is revealed that she is a key organiser to a feminist movement. She is a fundamental figure the screenwriters used to portray the difficulties women faced at that period of time, the revolutions that were ongoing, and how important earlier generations of feminists were. 

My favourite quote from the movie is the dialogue between Edith and Sherlock. 

Edith: Politics doesn’t interest you. Why?
Sherlock: Because it’s fatally boring. 

Edith: Because you have no interest in changing a world that suits you so well.

Even though they have no name (like the First Wave of Feminism), the women of that era that Enola Holmes was set in, shaped the world to what it is today, and the movie is really a bit of a homage to that. 

2. Cable Girls 

Cable Girls is a Spanish drama series available on Netflix that tells the tale of 4 women who work as cable girls. Cable girls were the phone operators back in the day when manual connection was needed for phone conversations. Being in a prime position to know all the secrets, these 4 women harbour secrets, lies, manipulation and more. At the end of it though, through all the hardship and difficulties, strains that were put on their relationships due to circumstances and misunderstandings, they come out strong in their friendship. It becomes clear they can rely and depend on one another for anything.

One of the more crucial segments is when one of the women faced domestic violence. [Spoilers ahead!] Even though how they eventually dealt with it might be seen as unethical, you cannot help but empathise in their situation given their circumstance. It will make you question the lines of morality. The discrimination and violence women faced back then and even today, makes it difficult to pass judgement on these women at times. The drama also touches on transgenders and the LGBTQIA+ community in a conservative setting. 

My favourite quote is: 

“To society, we were just housekeepers wives, or mothers. We didn’t have a right to have dreams or ambitions.” 

The quote encapsulates the essence of the drama, which holds a similar tune to Enola Holmes, where it talks about the sacrifices the women before us have made. It tells us of how we have come, and yet how little we have progressed as well. There is much the drama has to offer, so if you have the time, it is definitely worth a binge! 

3. Little Women (2019 Remake) 

Not only is the casting impeccable for this remake, but the screenwriting has to be the absolute best! If you can’t tell how much I’m gushing, I can confidently say this is my favourite feminist movie by far. Throw Florence Pugh, Emma Watson, Meryl Streep, Saoirse Ronan and, of course, Timothee Chalamet into the mix;, their acting skills and delivery of one of the best scripts to exist makes this movie so indulging. The pastel colour palettes, countryside shots

the storytelling, the development of all four of the girls and the emotions brought forth are completely incredible. 

One of my favourite scenes in terms of the feminist theme is when Amy talks about how she will marry her finacé, and what was to become of her after. She says, in a bit of a monologue to Laurie:

“I’m just a woman. And as a woman, there’s no way for me to make my own money. Not enough to earn a living or to support my family, and if I had my own money, which I don’t, that money would belong to my husband the moment we got married. And if we had children, they would be his, not mine. They would be his property, so don’t sit there and tell me that marriage isn’t an economic proposition, because it is. It may not be for you, but it most certainly is for me.”

The resignation in her tone, the brutal honesty of her words, the nonchalance she has as she wipes her brushes screams defeat and defiance. It is almost like she has accepted her reality, but the resignation is not one that is willing either. It is like an animal fighting against a cage, that has grown weary knowing it will never escape, but never losing the hope that it might. The most incredible part of this quote is that it applies then, in the 1860s, and now, in 2022. Women are still economically disadvantaged as compared to their male counterparts. They are paid less, have to pay the social cost of looking after the household and children, and are often just property for men to claim, possess and use. It rings such a true tune that it can be discouraging.

On a brighter note, my other favourite quote is from Meg. She says to Jo, who is trying hard to convince her not to marry, that: 

“Just because my dreams are different from yours doesn’t mean they’re unimportant” 

It fits well into modern day feminism, where there is more inclusivity as to what feminism means. Feminism is about the freedom of choice. Women who choose to be housewives have an equally respectable job as those who choose to be executives. Gender stereotypes and discrimination can be fought even when women choose the gender stereotypical roles. Feminism is not a one sizes fits all, but about creating a space that can fit all of us. 

As the semester wears on, we may not have the time to indulge in entertainment. However, whenever you’re keen on a break, just click on any one of these shows that are readily available on Netflix or otherwise, and feel a new perspective dawn onto you. 

Emmy Kwan

Nanyang Tech '25

The embodiment of a "material gworl" but with no money, if she isn't complaining about capitalism, the economy or the patriarchy, you can find Emmy in the aisles of a clothing store, ironically selling her soul to the corporations she often critiques.