As the world of television grows increasingly rich and diverse, we’re seeing an exciting change in how women characters are portrayed on screen. Gone are the days where women were simply eye candy or the damsel in distress.
Today’s shows are increasingly investing in stories revolving around powerful female protagonists who embody strength, resilience, and empowerment, and we are so here for it!
In this article, we’ll share ten must-watch shows with strong female leads that exemplify these qualities, and we hope you enjoy these shows as much as we did.
Also, the impact of powerful women making waves behind the scenes in the TV world is worth noting. Think about Shonda Rhimes, the creative genius behind “Grey’s Anatomy,” or Reese Witherspoon, who not only stars in but also gets behind the camera for shows like “Big Little Lies.”
They’re helping to make sure that stories about women – real, complex, kick-ass characters – are taking center stage. Thanks to them, we’re getting more narratives reflecting and resonating with the female experience. It’s clear that these women-led stories are not just ticking boxes; they’re must-see TV that’s setting the tone for the industry.
As an essential part of our lives, the media we consume significantly shapes our mindset and outlook. The songs we listen to, the movies we watch, and the TV shows we follow can greatly influence our perspective on self-worth, empowerment, and inspiration.
Whether it’s filling our playlist with songs about self-worth, watching movies that celebrate self-love, or getting hooked on TV series with powerful female leads like the ones we’re about to share below, we are consciously choosing to surround ourselves with positive and empowering narratives.
These sources entertain us and serve as valuable resources for self-affirmation, providing uplifting role models and beneficial messages that contribute positively to our mental and emotional well-being. So, let’s be mindful of what we consume and use these platforms to enrich our lives, one empowering message at a time.
1. Grey’s Anatomy
In “Grey’s Anatomy,” one of the standout elements, particularly in the earlier seasons, is the deep-rooted friendship between Meredith Grey and Cristina Yang. This dynamic duo showcases a strong bond that often outshines the traditional romantic relationships in the series.
This powerful portrayal of female friendship being put center stage is a breath of fresh air. The loyalty, emotional support, and camaraderie between Meredith and Cristina highlight the strength of female bonds and solidify why this show is a must-watch for so many women.
The complex lead character of Meredith Grey, played by Ellen Pompeo, also embodies resilience as she navigates a demanding medical career, personal traumas, and turbulent relationships.
Her journey, along with other strong female characters like Miranda Bailey, teaches us about the strength of the human spirit, the importance of self-care, and the power of women in male-dominated sectors like medicine.
2. Big Little Lies
“Big Little Lies” is a gripping watch showcasing the collective strength of women. This series, based on the book by Liane Moriarty, provides a gripping narrative around a group of mothers in Monterey, California.
Central to the series is their shared experiences, resilience, and collective strength in the face of adversity. Characters like Madeline, Celeste, and Jane showcase the strength of women in dealing with issues like domestic abuse, sexual assault, and societal expectations.
3. The Handmaid’s Tale
The dystopian drama “The Handmaid’s Tale” presents us with a chilling reality of female oppression. The striking thing about this story, based on the famous book by Margaret Attwood, is that all of the horrific things depicted in each episode have happened in real life to women around the world. The show is extremely thought-provoking, unnerving, and a reminder of how hard women must fight to maintain and preserve our rights.
In this oppressive environment, the character of Offred, played by Elisabeth Moss, displays courage and defiance. Her quiet rebellion and resilience serve as a testament to the spirit of women who refuse to be subdued despite being stripped of their rights.
4. Orange Is the New Black
Set in a women’s prison, “Orange Is the New Black” uses its unique setting to explore female empowerment. The protagonist, Piper Chapman, evolves from a privileged woman experiencing a culture shock to an empathetic character who uses her position to shed light on critical issues like racial discrimination, corruption, and criminal justice reform.
The series showcases a diverse range of female characters, each with their unique strengths and stories, reinforcing the idea that empowerment comes in many forms.
5. Killing Eve
The BBC series “Killing Eve” subverts gender norms by placing two women in traditionally male roles – a spy and an assassin. The protagonist, Eve Polastri, is a driven and brilliant MI6 agent who becomes entwined in a game of cat and mouse with the ruthless yet enigmatic assassin, Villanelle.
Their mutual obsession and complex dynamic highlight women’s raw power, intelligence, and agency even in dark and violent circumstances and further challenge conventional norms with the intoxicating sexual tension between Eve and Villanelle.
The cat-and-mouse game they play not only forms the crux of the show but also positions their relationship as the most pivotal element of the narrative. This dynamic is so compelling that the male characters often become almost irrelevant, further accentuating the show’s female-focused narrative. It’s a true testament to the power of female-led storytelling in contemporary television.
6. The Queen’s Gambit
Set in the male-dominated world of chess, “The Queen’s Gambit” breaks gender stereotypes with its protagonist, Beth Harmon. Beth, a young orphan, turns her life around by becoming a world-class chess player, a feat that requires immense intellect, strategic thinking, and emotional resilience.
Her journey demonstrates that women can indeed conquer fields traditionally dominated by men, breaking glass ceilings one move at a time.
“Unbelievable,” tells the harrowing story of a rape victim who must stand up against a doubting system. Based on true events, this series showcases the courage and tenacity of women both in enduring personal trauma and in fighting for justice.
Marie Adler’s struggle and the relentless pursuit by two female detectives highlight the power of women in seeking truth and justice, even when the odds are stacked against them.
This show is extremely powerful and memorable, and for the women who have been in a similar position, watching this story is healing, empowering and relatable.
8. Queen Charlotte
Queen Charlotte, a spin-off series of the historical drama “Bridgerton,” focuses on the Queen herself and her back story. This series is historical fiction, with a base in reality, reimagined by Shonda Rimes.
We watch as Queen Charlotte, a powerful black woman, develops as a figure of influence and power. Her character, one who manipulates the social and political landscape of Regency-era England, conveys the significance of women in positions of power and authority. She holds the strings of societal norms, turning the tables of patriarchy to her advantage.
Another notable strong female character in this series is Lady Danbury, with this show explaining how she grew into the formidable character she is in the later Bridgerton series; like with Grey’s Anatomy, the friendship developing between these two strong females is one of our favorite aspects of the show.
9. The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
“The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” tells the story of Kimmy, a woman who refuses to be broken by her traumatic past. Having spent 15 years in a doomsday cult’s underground bunker, Kimmy emerges into the modern world with infectious vibrancy and optimism.
The theme song itself proudly declares, “Females are strong as hell,” which encapsulates Kimmy’s journey of resilience and reclamation of her identity. Kimmy’s approach to her new life, brimming with childlike curiosity and an unwavering spirit, shows how women can overcome adversities with strength and joy.
10. Orphan Black
“Orphan Black” introduces us to a unique premise that explores the concept of identity through a series of clones, all brilliantly portrayed by Tatiana Maslany.
Sarah Manning, a complex and resilient woman at the heart of the story, uncovers the truth about her origins while assuming multiple identities. This fascinating exploration of individuality and sisterhood challenges societal norms and presents a nuanced portrayal of female empowerment.
Sarah’s relentless quest for truth and her devotion to her clone ‘sisters’ serves as a powerful testament to the strength and determination of women, and Tatiana Maslany’s multi-character performance, which is at the very center of the show, is an amazing demonstration of female talent.
These empowering female-focused TV shows paint a vibrant and intricate picture of female narratives. The protagonists aren’t merely strong and influential; they courageously break through societal norms and expectations.
Whether they’re surgeons, queens, convicts, chess prodigies, or spies, they redefine the notions of strength, resilience, and empowerment in their own unique ways.
While diverse and distinct, their journeys embody the richness and complexity of the female experience. Their stories provide more than just entertainment; they offer a source of inspiration, serving as empowering reminders of women’s potential and strength.
Amid the changing tides of the television industry, these female-led narratives put women front and center in ways we’ve never seen before. This focus on dynamic, complex, and strong female characters makes these shows more than just good TV – they celebrate female power, making them must-watch viewing for all.
So, which empowering journey will you embark on first?