What are some decent feminist friendly tv shows?

(119 Posts)
Mishmashofstyles Sat 28-Dec-13 16:15:07

Like Parks and Recreation, that you'd recommend? You know, has more than one female character, the women are doing stuff, not just mooning over men, oh, or like Buffy!

That's what I'm after mumsnet feminists, hit me with it!

BuffytheElfSquisher Sat 28-Dec-13 16:48:50

I can only think of Buffy. Though I also like Homeland and West Wing and while both have some strong female characters I don't think either are a shining example of feminist TV. Specially not West Wing.

JodieGarberJacob Sat 28-Dec-13 16:55:40

Big Bang Theory has a few feisty female scientists although Amy is a bit man-desperate but Lesley comes up top trumps over Sheldon. Leonard has a good attitude but Howard and Raj are living in the dark ages as far as women are concerned. Maybe not so good after all!

MmeLindor Sat 28-Dec-13 16:58:32

Nashville is pretty much all strong female characters. If you like country music.

I would have said CJ in West Wing, and there are other strong female characters too.


LovelyMarchHare Sat 28-Dec-13 16:59:12

Something with Clare Balding on? Brilliant presenter at the top of her game.

PatTheHammer Sat 28-Dec-13 16:59:51

I was thinking Greys Anatomy as the female doctors are all pretty ballsy but sadly some of them still moon over men a fair bit.

Game of Thrones.

FigEater Sat 28-Dec-13 17:01:05

30 rock

Star Trek Voyager.

Stargate Atlantis

I do watch things that aren't Sci-Fi or Fantasy, but they tend to have fewer female characters, and those they have are more susceptible to stereotype.

BuffytheElfSquisher Sat 28-Dec-13 17:06:33

Yes to firefly, forgot that one.

I can't think of anything like Parks and Rec but how about The L Word?

I've just started watching and it's great! 10 episodes in 2 days great!

Hessy Sat 28-Dec-13 17:07:40

Orange is the New Black (on Netflix)

JodieGarberJacob Sat 28-Dec-13 17:08:18

Anything that Steven Moffat writes

octopusinasantasack Sat 28-Dec-13 17:09:22

I would love for Dr Who to have a female doctor then that could be one...sadly I don't think it will ever happen sad

It's far from perfect but I love Six Feet Under, lots of conversations that don't just revolve around men and I think Brenda is a great character.

JodieGarberJacob Sat 28-Dec-13 17:12:37

Aside from the Dr the women characters are good. (Probably thanks to Steven Moffat!)

CuttedUpPear Sat 28-Dec-13 17:13:49

Lurking for tips!

WhoKnowsWhereTheMistletoes Sat 28-Dec-13 17:21:04

The Good Wife, lots of strong female characters in that one. Set in a law firm and the women aren't just the assistants and clients, one is a partner, the lead role is a very good lawyer and lots of other women in good supporting roles.

tribpot Sat 28-Dec-13 17:21:52

West Wing is somewhat 'of its time' and there's stuff in there that I don't think would make it into a show now. Admittedly Sorkin was off his head on coke so that probably didn't help. (It is still my all-time favourite show).

Nashville is another show I love and I think is fairly honest about the way younger female stars are manipulated by their (male) managers. And indeed how the same thing happens to some young male stars as well.

I would say Private Practice is better than Grey's although the female characters still do their share of angsting around after the male characters.

Someone's mentioned steven Moffat, by that token I would say look to Josh Whedon. Obviously firefly has already been mentioned.

Someone also mentioned Rizzoli and isles to me. No idea about it though

Person of interest
Ok the mainest main characters are male but the women in it are tough arse kicker types and where there is sex or romance (which there isn't much) it's very much on equal terms

tribpot Sat 28-Dec-13 17:27:17

Yes, Riz and Isles is great. And of course Cagney and Lacey is being repeated on the Beeb at the mo.

Veronica Mars, baby!

EllieQ Sat 28-Dec-13 17:29:24

Orphan Black (was on BBC3 recently). It always passes the Bechdel test!

SunshineOnACrappyDay Sat 28-Dec-13 17:29:30

Nurse Jackie.

Sister Act (bizarrely) - at its core it's about relationships between women.

LeBearPolar Sat 28-Dec-13 17:33:30

Agents of Shield - also written by Joss Whedon.

legoplayingmumsunite Sat 28-Dec-13 17:34:22

Can't believe noone has said Borgen yet! Bloody brilliant!

ErrolTheDragon Sat 28-Dec-13 17:41:50

I've never seen Firefly - have been recommended it in the context of good sci-fi for a teen, so this thread is making it doubly interesting to me - is it shown on any freeview channels ever or would it be a box set job?

LeBearPolar Sat 28-Dec-13 17:41:53

This is a really interesting programme (Front Row - Radio 4) asking what happened to the Buffy legacy? - why are there no TV programmes with strong women surrounded by other strong women. The point about the male/male/female dynamic (think Harry/Ron/Hermione, Edward/Jacob/Bella, Damon/Stefan/Elena) as opposed to the female/female/male dynamic of Buffy/Willow/Xander is a really interesting one - once you start thinking about it, you realise how many shows are structured around that first pattern.

Castle has some strong women in, and Castle's home life of course is him, his mother and his daughter, both of whom are very feisty! Nathan Fillion is a Joss Whedon favourite as well - I think it all comes back to Joss!

Mishmashofstyles Sat 28-Dec-13 17:42:27

Someone in real life said Nashville and two people on here means that's first on my list so far for my Amazon vouchers! Keep them coming!

Mishmashofstyles Sat 28-Dec-13 17:47:25

I watched Firefly and quite liked it but can't remember a thing about it now to be honest. I didn't find it memorable at all!
Yes Brenda in 6 feet under was a great character!

Oh Nurse Jackie was another someone has mentioned to me before.

tribpot Sat 28-Dec-13 18:19:12

Errol, Firefly is available on LoveFilm.

ErrolTheDragon Sat 28-Dec-13 18:32:08

I've never used LoveFilm....looks like the Complete Series is only about a tenner on DVD from amazon so that may be one of DDs birthday presents (Feb). grinthanks

Scandal is good.

Big Love is also interesting, although maybe not exactly feminist, it does have lots of female characters, and their relationship with each other is central to the story.

noblegiraffe Sat 28-Dec-13 18:42:42

Surprised to see Steven Moffatt recommended on here, google 'Steven Moffatt sexist' to see plenty of discussion. He is shit at writing female characters, they are never well-rounded, he defaults to feisty/sexy. Russell T Davies was a far better Dr Who writer.

Bamaluz Sat 28-Dec-13 19:17:27

Scott & Bailey - excellent police series where most of the top jobs are held by women.

ChunkyPickle Sat 28-Dec-13 20:06:00

Bones - cast is easily 50/50 (by now, I don't think so at the start), and the women and men are all qualified experts in their own areas.

They still hook up, but they are shown as equal relationships, even after kids.

I think most episodes will even pass the bechdel test ( especially if the 'talking about a man' rule doesn't apply to corpses)

VivaLeBeaver Sat 28-Dec-13 20:10:27

X files

VivaLeBeaver Sat 28-Dec-13 20:11:01

The Simpsons. grin

Once Upon a Time has loads of strong, varied, multi-faceted female characters, and three of the four main characters are women. Iirc every episode passes the bechdel test.

hazchem Sun 29-Dec-13 08:11:11

Silk. Not sure is it passes the bechdel test every episode but the female characters are dynamic and multifaceted.

legoplayingmumsunite Mon 30-Dec-13 12:17:41

Scott & Bailey - excellent police series where most of the top jobs are held by women.

My Mum is a big fan of this and I agree, it's well populated with decent women.

You really need a lot of women characters to start getting depth of character and variation, if there's one token female then the default now is 'strong woman' which seems to be a woman who does all the things it would be completely unacceptable for a decent man to do, e.g sexual harassment, violence etc.

I know Steve Moffatt has a bad reputation but I think it's slightly undeserved, Coupling (although it would fail the Bechdal since it was a romcom) has 3 varied characters and I did like Aimee in Dr Who, she was a married woman who was allowed to have adventures and was not vilified (in the programme) for not bringing up her daughter. It's hard though because everyone has different ideas of what is acceptable to them, my sister thinks it's fine that e.g. Toy Story 2 fails the Bechdel because the female cowgirl is a good character. I'm happier with Tangled because I liked the complex mother-daughter relationship even if it was based on a traditional 'girl meets boy' fairytale.

Octoberagain Mon 30-Dec-13 15:16:58

Xena: Warrior Princess.

KeatsiePie Wed 01-Jan-14 03:29:58

Season 1 of the L Word is great, after that it tanks. Love The Good Wife. The Closer is also pretty great.

I think Firefly is sexist personally but it's not blatant. At least relatively not.

Lip service
Orange is the new black

Reiltin Wed 01-Jan-14 03:40:47


hazchem Wed 01-Jan-14 05:43:13

Reiltin was was thinking about recommending scandal but wasn't sure. I think the women are really strong and interesting but they don't talk to each other really.

CheerfulYank Wed 01-Jan-14 06:26:14

Law and Order SVU? Olivia Benson is my hero.

TanteRose Wed 01-Jan-14 06:45:35

The Good Wife

Getting On, with Jo Brand - the cast is almost all female (women's ward in a hospital) Brilliant comedy/ drama

tribpot Wed 01-Jan-14 07:45:39

Another vote for Scott and Bailey. It's never really commented on that any of the main characters are women, including the boss.

Castle? Beckett's career is actually more important than Castle's (although in fairness he is a multi-millionaire author) and there's no expectation that she should compromise on that. Again, the fact that the boss is a woman is irrelevant to the story and not mentioned.

CheshireSplat Wed 01-Jan-14 08:04:03

Another vote for Borgen. Love it!

WilsonFrickett Wed 01-Jan-14 11:33:16

I'm quite enjoying the Conversqtion with Amanda de Cadenet. It's not particularly deep but it's super-refreshing to see women interviewing women. A lot of the questions are round relationships though... But it's good for light viewing with a glass of wine. She sometimes has not really famous people on too - magazine editors and entrepreneurs. Female producer too (Demi Moore)

KeatsiePie Wed 01-Jan-14 19:47:24

Oh Wilson that sounds neat, I have never heard of it.

The Unusuals is delightful, totally recommend it, the female lead is a lot of fun (forget her name).

WilsonFrickett Wed 01-Jan-14 19:54:55

It's on that new sky channel Keatsie can't for the life of me remember the name though.

Dromedary Wed 01-Jan-14 20:06:29

Spirals (strong baddy woman in that, plus strong good woman).
Historical drama - Testament of Youth (based on memoir of Vera Brittain).

JollySantersSelectionBox Wed 01-Jan-14 20:11:19

Oh yes Law and Order with Olivia. Love her.

Modern Family has a good balance with strong female comedic characters.

I thinking Cougar Town has a pretty good balance too.

KeatsiePie Wed 01-Jan-14 20:15:53

Wilson just looked it up - http://www.theconversation.tv/ - it looks fantastic! Thanks.

CheerfulYank Wed 01-Jan-14 20:58:38

There are very strong women in Parenthood! And they talk about more than men.

I liked Parenthood but they don't seem to show it anymore. I saw a series and a half on 5* and then it disappeared.

KeatsiePie Wed 01-Jan-14 23:07:01

Parenthood is still running, I think it's in its 5th season. I watch it on Amazon. And yes, very strong women on there! Amber and Julia are my favorites. Can't stand Crosby, entitled man-child. Tbh. I find all the Braverman men tiresome, whereas Julia's husband is a dream.

CheerfulYank Wed 01-Jan-14 23:37:27

<gasp> But Adam!

KeatsiePie Wed 01-Jan-14 23:45:02

Oh, Adam. I just can't deal with him. I know he's a really good, kind, hardworking husband but he's certainly not very much fun grin

Though I do admire hugely how wonderfully he and Christina are raising Max.

CheerfulYank Thu 02-Jan-14 00:07:01

How far have you seen?!

KeatsiePie Thu 02-Jan-14 00:19:06

Oh let's see [goes to check Amazon] seasons 1-4, you?

KeatsiePie Thu 02-Jan-14 00:26:36

Why? Omg! Does Adam do something terrible in season 5?! I haven't seen it b/c am too cheap to pay per episode.

ChanelTunel Thu 02-Jan-14 00:32:18

Nurse Jackie

CheerfulYank Thu 02-Jan-14 03:02:32

Heard that, I only pay per episode for Walking Dead so I can see my boyfriend Daryl Dixon But no, I just meant how could anyone not love Adam after how lovely he was in season 4? grin Also Crosby is much improved in 5!

VesuviusPoovius Thu 02-Jan-14 04:00:35

I'd say the Gilmore Girls but series 5/6 it turns a bit sour with the girls putting up with a lot of man-related angst.

KeatsiePie Thu 02-Jan-14 05:47:26

Ha! I've never seen Walking Dead, sounds like I should grin

I know, he truly is lovely. He's just so very boring. And his dad and brother take advantage of him and I really want him to put them in their places and he just won't. Actually I feel like he and Christina both sort of love to be the family martyrs. But looking forward to seeing season 5 now ...

MoleyMick Thu 02-Jan-14 06:15:35


One of the reasons I love Parenthood is that Max got a diagnosis soon after DS2 did, and I found it reassuring to see AS portrayed in a regular family drama.

KissesBreakingWave Thu 02-Jan-14 08:39:38

Stargate SG1. Captain Samantha Carter: cracking role model for young ladies everywhere. Warrior, scientist, pilot, leader - by the final series I think she was a full Colonel, and while I haven't kept up with Atlantis, ISTR she got one-star general's rank by the time she finished. Plus there's the UST with Colonel (later General) O' Neil, with them both obviously caring but being careful to be professional in their workplace. Really nice.

Plus they whack on the baddies something fierce. My daughter was mightily impressed.

CheerfulYank Thu 02-Jan-14 11:33:14

Not every episode of the XFiles passes the Bechdel test but Scully is tremendous.

BitchyFestiveFace Thu 02-Jan-14 12:32:29

Battlestar Galactica. Lots of complex / flawed / strong female characters in that...

President Roslin
Number Six
Admiral Cain

Boomer and Starbuck, interestingly, were both originally male characters, becoming female in the 2003 reboot.

OddBoots Thu 02-Jan-14 12:37:21

I like Bones for this.

FairPhyllis Thu 02-Jan-14 12:49:00

Astonished to see Steven Moffat recommended here too.

IMO there aren't really any wholly feminist shows but you could do worse than Veronica Mars, Battlestar Galactica and the X Files. I've heard good things about Borgen but haven't seen it.

I just rewatched Firefly recently and was a bit sad that the gender stuff in it is worse than I remembered it as. I would say that Angel is quite watchable even though the cast is male dominated because the women in it are fully formed characters.

legoplayingmumsunite Thu 02-Jan-14 13:40:32

Mad Men is fabulous. I'm not sure if every episode would pass the Bechdel (because we mainly see things through the lead character's eyes) but there is a strong feminist strand running through the whole series and comparison between the choices the three lead females make (or have forces upon them) and the consequences arising from those choices are clearly shown. I think because it's a historic show it allows the writers to be more explicit with the feminist thread, you could argue we can look back at the Mad Men generation and feel superior because we are more sophisticated than them. However there are still clear lessons to be learnt from the many well developed female characters in the series.

FairPhyllis, I would say Borgen is a wholly feminist show, although I suppose that depends how you define a feminist show. What I want is a show that shows several female characters that drive action that is not romantic. Borgen has a majority of female characters in a show that could easily have made every one of them male without causing any comment in the mainstream. But they do examine some 'female' issue like balancing family and work (but without every questioning the desire of women to work) as well, but not as much as Mad Men does.

melonribena Thu 02-Jan-14 13:55:36

I agree with ER. A fab show all round, but Weaver, Lewis, Corday, Rasgotra are all excellent characters, as are many others

Kiwiinkits Mon 06-Jan-14 03:48:14

Can't believe no-one has said Veep. Julia Louis Dreyfuss is perfection. Funny as hell.

Kiwiinkits Mon 06-Jan-14 03:49:06

Some very funny scenes in Veep where she (the Vice President) deals with her 21 year old daughter.

BitchyFestiveFace Mon 06-Jan-14 07:47:27

Agree Kiwiinkits , Veep is great! I always forget about it but it is!

hazchem Mon 06-Jan-14 08:37:52

Has anyone seen "Mom" or "mum" with Allison Janney yet? I really like her and think she has great comic timing but it's from the creator of Two &half men, Big Bang Theory which doesn't bode well for it.

I sort of don't want to see it if I it's terrible as It would tar Allison Janney for me.

Orange is the new Black

30 Rock


Prime Suspect

2 Broke Girls is kind of sexist and horrible but some how not.. if that makes sense?

I would say Law and Order SVU until they used Mike Tyson as a rape victim angry. Way to throw women under the bus to get ratings (which backfired and they had their worst episode ever!)

Giyadas Mon 06-Jan-14 12:22:39

Can't bring myself to watch Mad Men. I don't want to watch sexism, even if it's making a good point as I'm just sick of watching it.
Have rediscovered the Golden Girls over xmas so have had a bit of a binge. blush I think it's quite feminist?
I'd just like to watch shows that have women just well... there. Taking up their fair share of space and time as though it's normal. Even though it's a film, I've always found Silent Hill to be interesting as it reverses the normal trend (although there is one horrible scene with barbed wire that I always turn away from) - most of the main characters are women, goodies and baddies and it's of the genre that I usually watch (crappy game films/horror blush don't judge me).
Sorry for the aimless waffle, am lurking here to avoid study.

oh love Golden Girls! and that reminds me Designing Women!

OH and Murphy Brown! The late 80s wern't that bad actually

Bue Tue 07-Jan-14 12:40:24

The Good Wife - Diane is the most kickass feminist EVER. I also love Getting On. Have heard great things about Veep and Nashville.

Bue Tue 07-Jan-14 12:44:24

Please you've reminded me that Designing Women was an AMAZING show! What a cast of characters.

The Big Bang Theory.

Amy - Neuroscientist. Even though she is moony over Sheldon, she is his itellectual equal.

Bernadette - microbiologist, earns megabucks. Has a Phd unlike her dh.

Penny - stereotypical 'blonde bimbo' (hate that expression), yet trumps the men due to her street savvy and common sense.


It has a good range of male and female consultants, nurses and other hcps. smile

Lost Girl is entertaining tosh with a strong female lead - there is lots of cheesy erotic nonsense as the lead is a succubus but she is bi-sexual so it is very equal ops - very Xena and Buffy inspired.

Pulling - had a great female heavy cast - it's theme was mainly relationships with men and how they could go disastrously wrong - the characters were grotesques designed for our amusement/ horror - it was refreshingly honest about relationships - sexual and platonic and it was very very funny.

Rosencrantz Sat 11-Jan-14 18:09:20

The Mindy Project. Very much a story about a woman looking for love, but Mindy is a doctor, a hero, not typically beautiful, not white, very funny and holds her own.

She is an example of a feisty woman who likes celebrity gossip and clothes, but still is successful and intelligent too.

ArtetasSwollenAnkle Sun 12-Jan-14 11:10:12

The Bridge.

Nurse Jackie.

The Sopranos - Carmela and Dr Melfi are both excellent.

Anything with Olivia Colman in it. The Thirteenth tale was superb.

KeatsiePie Sun 12-Jan-14 18:07:27

This is great, I am out of episodes of The Good Wife. Making a list here.

Astarael Sun 12-Jan-14 19:44:05

I really enjoyed Marvel's Agents of Shield. Its a team of six main characters - 3 men and 3 women. The "hardest" member of the team is one of the women, as is the cleverest scientist. I did the bechdel test on a couple of the episodes and it passed but didn't do each one.

Astarael Sun 12-Jan-14 19:46:40

I really enjoyed Marvel's Agents of Shield. Its a team of six main characters - 3 men and 3 women. The "hardest" member of the team is one of the women, as is the cleverest scientist. I did the bechdel test on a couple of the episodes and it passed but didn't do each one.

Jacksterbear Sun 12-Jan-14 19:48:39

Another vote for Battlestar Galactica. Also True Blood.

Another vote for The Good Wife. Strong female lead and supporting roles.

SkaterGrrrrl Sun 12-Jan-14 20:25:37

30 Rock

The West Wing

ErrolTheDragon Mon 13-Jan-14 09:41:49

After last night, Sherlock - the women are as dysfunctional as the men! wink

Has anyone mentioned "the Bletchley circle". On.y watched one episode, but think it has promise!

KeatsiePie Tue 21-Jan-14 00:23:48

It just occurred to me, has anyone mentioned The Closer? I love that show. I get a little tired of Kyra Sedgwick's character Brenda milking the Southern femininity thing to get her way, but I still love it. Mary McDonnell's great in it too, esp. in later seasons.

KeatsiePie Tue 21-Jan-14 00:47:15

I just started watching the first episode of Major Crimes and just must reiterate that Mary McDonnell is amazing.

GinnelsandWhippets Tue 21-Jan-14 18:47:44

Breaking Bad is a very male dominated show, but the 2 main women in it are very well rounded, real characters with complexity, shades of grey (in the real way, not the dodgy book way) and they are real agents in the plotlines, not just there as window dressing.

Mumraathenoisylion Tue 21-Jan-14 18:54:28


Big Love - although it's about the strict mormon religion and where one man has three wives the women are very strong and the men are secondary characters.

amalur Tue 21-Jan-14 18:57:15

Borgen, Borgen, Borgen. It is not just that it has strong female characters, its main feminist point is that portrays a situation where gender does not seem to have any weight on the characters, they are individuals who happen to be women, but could have been men and the scenarios would also apply. Even the times where the work/life balance appears it is not about them being women, it is about being parents.

It is a brilliant show. The Bridge is similarly inspirational in how women are portrayed as individuals too.

ChunkyPickle Tue 21-Jan-14 19:33:46

surprisingly Chuck - until the last season (when there's been a bit to much trading feminine wiles and doe eyed proposal attempts). Yes Chuck is male, but the females characters are all well respected in their careers and treated/act as as equals

Loopytiles Thu 23-Jan-14 17:10:39

Fresh meat!
Good wife
Masters of sex

Am confused about "2 broke girls", but like it, mainly about them trying not to be broke and their friendship.

Loopytiles Thu 23-Jan-14 17:11:32

Call the midwife

ProfondoRosso Thu 23-Jan-14 17:23:10

The Golden Girls all the way for me - it addresses a lot of issues of ageism too. Just the funniest ensemble cast I've ever seen, regardless of gender.

Freaks and Geeks always feels like a good feminist show to me. I know Judd Atapow doesn't have a great record for nuanced female characters, but the main character in this show is a young woman in high school, who is very academic but feels disillusioned with all the roles society expects her to play. An amazing performance from Linda Cardellini in the lead role. I wish I'd seen it when I was in my teens and going through similar confusion!

I would add Roseanne too. It got crap towards the end, but I loved watching her relationship with her sister. They were so close and were always laughing together and being daft - it made me think of my relationship with my own DSis. And Roseanne was definitely the tough nut in that family.

Cactuar Fri 24-Jan-14 06:03:42

Warehouse 13 - at one point the main female characters outnumber the male. Also love the fact that Pete and Mika just have a genuine male/female friendship. There is none of this will they/won't they get together.

Also Fringe - Olivia is a brilliant character.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine isn't specifically feminist, but three out of seven characters are female and they're as well-developed/weird/competent as the rest. The 'family-oriented' character is male, and in other ways very masculine, and not at all derided for being completely smitten with his daughters.

phoolani Sun 26-Jan-14 18:55:16

Anybody been watching The Blacklist? I haven't sat down and analysed it, but I just keep finding myself pleasantly surprised when minor characters (which tend to be men normally) are female (and it isn't a plot device) and there's a couple of really great parts in it for women. Obviously, it's still a bit man-heavy, but I'd be interested to know what others think.

BeeBawBabbity Sun 26-Jan-14 20:59:14

Definitely Veep, it's great.

Also Weeds, Mad Men, Nurse Jackie, 30 Rock.

hazchem Mon 27-Jan-14 08:02:57

Taking a break from being a feminist while watching TV from the onion

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