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5 Must-Watch Sitcoms With Strong Female Leads

Midterms are finally over! Time to relax, right? Well….yes and no. While projects and assignments are starting to quickly pile up, that doesn’t mean you can’t start a new TV show to take a break from all that work. This might sound controversial but I might love situational comedies (aka sitcoms) more than dramas. As much as I adore many of the medical and crime dramas, why should they get all the love? The world is so serious right now and when many of us turn on the news, we immediately want to turn it off as our stress levels immediately skyrocket (anyone following the US Presidential election right now understands what I’m saying). In a time where we desperately need a good laugh and more strong women to take the reins, here are five female-driven sitcoms you need to see.

The Good Place

With a 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, The Good Place is a must see for any sitcom enthusiast. Kristen Bell is the lead character accompanied by one of the most diverse casts on TV. It is truly unlike any sitcom I have ever watched before. The plethora of plot twists and philosophical tidbits in one episode is staggering but in a good way! Without giving too much away, the Good Place is a small town where those who were ‘good’ throughout their lives go once they have passed away. You can think of it as some sort of ‘heaven.’ When Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) arrives at The Good Place run by Michael (Ted Danson), she realizes she has been mistakenly placed and goes on a whirlwind of an adventure to earn her spot in the Good Place with the help of fellow residents Chidi Anagonye (William Jackson Harper), Tahani Al-Jamil (Jameela Jamil), Jason Mendoza (Manny Jacinto) and Janet (D’Arcy Carden). Also, Michael Schur, the co-creator of Brooklyn Nine-Nine and producer of The Office made this show so if you are a big fan of any of his sitcoms, I highly recommend you check out The Good Place. Find all four seasons of the show streaming on Netflix.

Fun fact: Ted Danson, who plays Michael in The Good Place, may look familiar to those who have ever watched/ heard of the classic 80s sitcom, Cheers. Of course in Cheers, he plays Sam Malone, the lead character. That being said, Cheers also has various strong and smart female leads like Carla Tortelli and Diane Chambers, who by the way were both way ahead of their time.

Mary Tyler Moore Show

Speaking of sitcoms that were ahead of their time, Mary Tyler Moore Show is another iconic sitcom that was famous for its trailblazing portrayal of single women in the job force during the second wave of feminism that arrived simultaneously. Mary Richards, a young and independent newcomer, finds herself applying to the position of associate producer at the fictional WJM news program in Minneapolis. After getting hired by Lou Grant (Ed Asner), Richards finds herself in a male-dominated workplace as she tries to navigate her way through her life at work and at home. Along the way, she befriends sarcastic newswriter Murray Slaughter (Gavin MacLeod), naive anchorman Ted Baxter (Ted Knight) and upstairs neighbour Rhoda Morgenstern (Valerie Harper). Mary Tyler Moore Show was also one of the first sitcoms that handled sensitive issues – from infidelity to workplace sexism to journalism ethics – but in a way that was palatable to audiences. With seven hilarious seasons and 29 Emmys, need I say more?

The Mindy Project

Mindy Kaling. That’s all. Following her stint working on The Office as both a writer and then actress, Kaling created her own rom-com sitcom titled The Mindy Project. In the show, Kaling plays Mindy Lahiri, an obstetrician and gynecologist at Shulman & Associates in New York City (what is it with New York City and sitcoms?). Struggling to balance her personal and professional life, she gets help from her eccentric co-workers: Danny Castellano (Chris Messina), Jeremy Reed (Ed Weeks), Peter Prentice (Adam Pally), Morgan Tookers (Ike Barinholtz), Tamra Webb (Xosha Roquemore) and Beverley Janoszewski (Beth Grant). One of the first, if not the first female Indian-American leads on television, Kaling does an admirable job at showing everyone there is definitely room for more lead BIPOC characters.

The Nanny

Personally one of my favourite sitcoms of all time, The Nanny is a hidden gem in the CBS vaults. Imagine The Sound of Music set in 1990s New York and Maria Von Trapp as a Jewish, rambunctious, zany but still loving nanny. That’s basically The Nanny! On the air from 1993 to 1999, the plot of the show is that Fran Fine (Fran Drescher) finds herself fired from her job at a bridal shop in New York and turns to selling makeup door-to-door in Manhattan. As luck would have it, she arrives at a very wealthy family’s door and the British Broadway producer, Maxwell Sheffield (Charles Shaugnessy) ends up hiring her as the nanny for his three children. From there, she finds herself having to navigate her personal life as well as taking care of Mr. Sheffield’s three kids: Margaret, Brighton, and Gracie, all while doing it with style and flair. Currently all six seasons are available to stream on Amazon Prime Canada; this is a must watch for anyone who loves spunky, rebellious females who don’t give a damn. The entire cast is stellar and the show is well-written. Not to mention, the theme song is pretty catchy and you will, without a doubt, find yourself humming the tune for days to come. Honestly, I can go on and on about this sitcom for days! My closing statement? I’ve binged watched a lot of sitcoms and this was the only sitcom where I immediately rewatched the series again. I had never done that until watching The Nanny.

I Love Lucy

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the quintessential sitcom that started it all. I Love Lucy premiered on October 15, 1951 when television sets were starting to appear in more American households. The show revolves around Lucy Ricardo (Lucille Ball), a driven but naive woman struggling to get into show business, constantly dragging her husband, Ricky Ricardo (Desi Arnaz), into some sort of trouble along with her friends, Fred Mertz (William Frawley) and Ethel Mertz (Vivian Vance). With a solid six seasons under its belt, I Love Lucy is without a doubt a witty, outrageous sitcom riddled with slapstick humour for years to come. Note: the show is a bit outdated, after all it was made seventy years ago! Still, if you’re not convinced, watch this infamous chocolate candy factory conveyor belt scene and then let me know what you think. 

There you have it! Five amazing sitcoms with relatable yet inspirational women as the principal character. Obviously, there are so many more shows with brilliant female leads but if I were to write about all of them, this article would turn into a full blown novel. So when you decide to take a break from all that studying, I strongly urge you to go check these shows out. You will definitely not regret it!

Amanda Noor

Ryerson '24

Amanda Noor is a second-year Creative Industries student at Ryerson University. She's a huge movie and TV buff as well as a news and political junkie. When she's not writing articles for Her Campus, you can find her watching sitcoms from the 80s and 90s or daydreaming about living in New York City.
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