Looking For a New Watch? 50 Shows Starring Badass Ladies You Can Stream Right Now
Women's History Month may only last for 31 days, but in our opinion, the contributions of women should be celebrated every day. Females are strong as hell, and every year, more and more TV shows introduce women characters that are nuanced, complicated, and completely unforgettable. If you're looking for a TV show where women are more than wives, mothers, and daughters, then we've got some series that will inspire some serious girl power in you. We've rounded up 50 TV series in 2020 that celebrate women from all walks of life, and if you aren't watching these shows already, then you're truly missing out.
Anyone who lives for royal family drama is going to want to tune into this epic royal drama series, as it follows the reign of Queen Elizabeth II and all the landmark events that took place during the second half of the 20th century. Everyone knows that the queen is a total boss IRL, and actresses Claire Foyand Olivia Colman do a killer job portraying her royal highness.
Riverdale's second spinoff (the first being Netflix's Chilling Adventures of Sabrina) stars Pretty Little Liars' Lucy Hale as the titular Archie-verse character. The series follows aspiring fashion designer Katy as she works as a personal shopper and tries to make it in New York City (while also serving as an independent female icon for ladies everywhere).
The Handmaid's Tale
Based on Margaret Atwood 1985 novel of the same name, this dystopian drama stars Elisabeth Moss as June/Offred, a woman forced into child-bearing slavery after the US is taken over by a totalitarian government following a second civil war. Though separated from her husband and daughter and made a Handmaid to Commander Fred Waterford, June never gives up hope of escape — and, eventually, retribution.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
This Netflix series gets the Riverdale treatment, offering a dark new twist on the original Archie comic book character Sabrina as she is forced to choose between the human world and the witch world following her 16th birthday. The series follows the titular Sabrina (played by Mad Men's Kiernan Shipka) as she finds herself torn between a cute warlock, Nicholas, and her mortal boyfriend, Harvey, while also trying to balance her friends, her new school, and her newly discovered darker side, and it's a wild ride.
If you're looking for an incredible display of female badassery, then look no further than GLOW. This comedy series takes the Spandex and big hair of the '80s and combines it with the glitter and glamour of female wrestling, making for a show that is utterly original and incredibly entertaining.
Homicide creator Paul Attanasio created this cop drama, which revolves around Abigail "Tommy" Thomas (played by The Sopranos and Nurse Jackie star Edie Falco), a former high-ranking NYPD officer who becomes the first female chief of police for the Los Angeles Police Department. Tommy is unflinching honest, unapologetically tough, and TBH, we wouldn't want to mess with her.
Based on the Villanelle novel series by Luke Jennings, this British spy thriller stars Sandra Oh from Grey's Anatomy as the titular Eve, a British intelligence investigator tasked with capturing the twisted assassin Villanelle (who's played by Jodie Comer). It's sexy, it's sharp, and every season of the series has featured a different female showrunner, making it the ultimate girl power series.
This insanely popular sci-fi series follows an adolescent crew living in 1980s Indiana as they discover supernatural forces, secret government threats, and a young girl with telekinetic powers. Eleven is totally fierce and fearless, whether she's facing off against a Demogorgon or telling a boy, "I dump your ass."
Starring Glee's Melissa Benoist, this superhero series follows Superman's cousin, Kara Zor-El, as she attempts to hide her Kryptonian identity while living as a 20-something in National City. She may have grown up in the shadow of her foster sister, but once she's recruited to protect the city's citizens from threats, Kara is finally able to discover and embrace her strength.
Evan Rachel Wood stars in this wild sci-fi series (which is based on the 1973 film of the same name) as Dolores, an android "host" who caters to guests in a technologically advanced amusement park — that is, until her growing sentience compels her to rebel. Over the course of the series, Dolores transforms from robotic rancher's daughter to a sentient being hell bent on revenge, and you can't help but root for her.
Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist
Suburgatory star Jane Levy leads this musical dramedy as the titular Zoey, a brilliant, type-A coder who develops the ability to hear other people's innermost thoughts through song (and sometimes even elaborate musical numbers in which she stars). Zoey is then able to use her incredible new ability to better understand the people in her life whom she wasn't quite able to connect with before receiving her "gift," though that "gift" may be more of a curse.
This hilarious crime series stars the badass trio of Christina Hendricks, Retta, and Mae Whitman as three down-on-their-luck suburban Michigan mothers who decide to pull off a heist in order to score the cash they all desperately need. Though their criminal activity is a bit questionable, there's no question that these three will do whatever it takes to keep their families together.
The eponymous young female detective gets a modern take on The CW, starring newcomer Kennedy McMann. Like Riverdale, the series is much darker than its source material, following whip-smart 18-year-old Nancy Drew, whose college plans are put on hold after she and four friends are witnesses to the murder of a classmate.
Based on the 2005 novel of the same name by Pamela Redmond Satran, Sutton Foster stars in this comedy as a single mom who decides to re-enter the publishing world at 40, though in order to do so, she must pass herself off as 26. The hoax doesn't last, but this series — which explores the challenges of being a woman in an industry that values youth — will definitely leave a lasting impression.
Starring Awkward Black Girl creator Issa Rae, this series might be one of the realest shows on TV, revolving around the (occasionally awkward) sexcapades of Issa and her BFF, Molly. They may not be the epitome of strong and confident modern-day black women, but they are definitely the epitome of friendship goals.
Orange Is the New Black's Natasha Lyonne stars in this dark comedy series about a hilarious unapologetic woman caught in a Groundhog Day-type loop, repeatedly attending the same party, dying, and waking up the next day unharmed. Lyonne also serves as an executive producer for the show alongside fellow girl bosses Amy Poehler and Leslye Headland, so if you have any doubt about how funny it is, you shouldn't.
Based on the 2014 novel of the same name by Natalie Baszile, this Ava DuVernay-produced series revolves around the lives of three siblings in rural Louisiana, one of whom unexpectedly inherits an 800-acre sugarcane farm from her late father. The drama is never afraid to tackle issues such as race, class, and gender, and it's also the one of the first TV series in which female directors direct every episode.
Taking place in early-1990s Northern Ireland during the Troubles, this comedy series follows 16-year-old Erin and her friends as they navigate their adolescence amid the country's political unrest. Though you think the setting might make the show a bit morose, these hilarious young women and the trials they face in their Catholic girls' secondary school make the show surprisingly lighthearted.
Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens
Awkwafina stars in this comedy series as Nora Lum, a fictionalized version of herself struggling to get by in Flushing alongside her cousin. From trying to succeed at her menial job to trying to cash a check, Nora's trials as a young woman with big dreams are definitely relatable (and totally hilarious).
Based on the Ross Thomas novel of the same name, this thrilling anthology series stars Rosario Dawson as Allegra "Pick" Dill, a strong-willed investigator who must return to home to San Bonifacio, TX in order to hunt down her sister's killer — though she soon discovers the whole town may be more corrupt than she ever imagined. We still can't decide if we want to be best friends with Pick or if we just want to be her.
This female-POV remake of the 2000 John Cusack-led movie (and Nick Hornby novel) of the same name stars Zoë Kravitz as Robyn "Rob" Brooks, a pop culture and music super-fan who runs a record store in the rapidly gentrifying Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn. Since music culture has historically been dominated by white male perspectives, it's pretty cool to see a woman of color so fixated on vinyl (especially someone as cool as Kravitz).
Based on Diana Gabaldon's bestselling series, Outlander tells the story of former World War II combat nurse Claire, her MI6 officer husband, and the time-travel incident that lands her in 18th-century Scotland (and in the arms of a sexy Scottish Highland warrior). Traditional romantic tropes are tossed out the window with this one, and unlike other historical romances, Claire has all the power to choose.
Little Fires Everywhere
This drama series (which stars the fiery duo of Kerry Washington and Reese Witherspoon) is based on Celeste Ng's novel of the same name, telling the story of the seemingly perfect Robinson family and the mysterious single mother who rents their home across town with her teenage daughter. Mia Warren and Elena Richardson are as different as can be, but they have one thing in common: They're fierce women who will do anything to protect their families (and their secrets).
The Morning Show
Based on Brian Stelter's 2013 book, Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV, this wild series — which stars Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon — revolves around a popular NYC-based morning news program and the sexual misconduct scandal that threatens to dismantle the whole show. Though Alex and Bradley start off as rivals, they're forced to work together to fight the toxic culture of TV journalism.
Starring Kaya Scodelario (whom you might know better as Effy Stonem from Skins) and January Jones, this drama revolves around a competitive ice skater who — after making a devastating fall during a competition — attempts to make a comeback by teaming up with a new partner. Accurately portraying mental illness without relying on tropes is difficult, but Spinning Out succeeds in depicting Kat's bipolar disorder in a way that is sensitive and nuanced, making her an "unlikeable" female protagonist to root for.
I Am Not Okay With This
Sophia Lillis stars in this YA series, which comes from the from the creator/director of The End of The F***ing World and the producers of Stranger Things. Based on the Charles Forsman graphic novel of the same name, the series follows a teenage girl as she deals with high school, family drama, her budding sexuality, and the mysterious superpowers that she's gradually developing — and somehow, it's totally relatable.
Adapted from the Israeli show of the same name, this drama revolves around 17-year-old Rue (who's played by Zendaya), a rehabilitated drug addict who finds herself falling for Jules, the transgender new girl in school. Throughout the series, Rue, Jules, and their group of friends grapple with their sexualities, friendships, and bodies in a way that's wildly dramatic but still achingly real.
In this America Ferrera-produced comedy-drama, three very different Mexican-American cousins attempt to work together on their shared dream: keeping their immigrant grandfather's family taco shop open in their rapidly gentrifying East LA neighborhood. As well as being a celebration of Latinx culture, this series shows just what can happen when determined women band together.
Based on 2013 novel by Kirsten Smith, this YA series revolves around three very different sticky-fingered teens whose paths cross in a Shoplifters Anonymous meeting, and as little as they have in common, the one thing they do share brings them together in unexpected ways. The series will remind you just how essential female friendships are, especially when it comes to having one another's backs.
Netflix's first original South African espionage drama stars Quantico's Pearl Thusi as the titular Queen Sono, a kickass female field operative still reeling from the mysterious death of her mother, who was an anti-apartheid revolutionary leader and freedom fighter. Queen proves that you can take on terrorism and look hot while doing it (even while battling your own inner demons).
Canadian comedian Mae Martin stars as herself in this queer rom-com series, following her life in London as she fights to overcome her addiction to narcotics and pursues a relationship with a woman who has never dated another woman before. Mae will give you major Fleabag vibes, and her struggles with identity, depression, and obsession will feel all too real.
Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C. J. Walker
Based on the biography On Her Own Ground by A'Lelia Bundles, this series follows the true story of Madam C.J. Walker, a black hair care entrepreneur who became the first African American self-made millionaire. Octavia Spencer plays the titular Walker, and we couldn't think of a better person to play this powerful trailblazer.
Based on Megan Abbott's 2012 twisted cheerleader thriller of the same name, this dark series follows the story of a former star cheerleader turned high-school cheerleading coach and an ambitious teen on her squad with whom she develops a questionable relationship. Not even Bring It On's Torrance Shipman could face off against these fiery ladies.
Starring Orange Is the New Black's Ruby Rose, this new entry in The CW's Arrowverse follows the fierce Kate Kane, cousin of Bruce Wayne (also known as Batman), who must take over her cousin's responsibilities after he goes missing. Though Kate's father tries to protect her from Gotham City's crime wave through his private security firm, Crows Private Security, Kate refuses to hide any longer after her girlfriend, security officer Sophie Moore, is kidnapped, and yeah, she's as awesome as she sounds.
This second spinoff of Black-ish (the first being Grown-ish) follows the childhood years of Rainbow "Bow" Johnson (voiced by Tracee Ellis Ross) and chronicles her experience growing up in a mixed-race family in the 1980s. Being a female teenager is hard enough without struggling with your biracial heritage, and this series absolutely nails the experience.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Set in the late 1950s, this hilarious comedy series tells the story of a pampered Upper West Side housewife who — after discovering her husband's infidelity — discovers that she has a secret of her own: She has a real knack for stand-up comedy. While Midge couldn't care less about domesticity and convention, it's her razor-tongued agent Susie who really retaliates against the patriarchy, and together, they're a force to be reckoned with.
One Day at a Time
This sweet sitcom reboot of the classic Norman Lear series revolves around a Cuban-American family, following the matriarch Penelope's divorce as she and her kids navigate life's challenges together. Though it's lighthearted and fun, the show also delves into Penelope's struggles with anxiety, depression, and PTSD and provides a very real look into single motherhood.
Starring Hailee Steinfeld, this historical drama tells the story of promising writer Emily Dickinson as she comes of age in 19th-century Massachusetts. Ambitious, independent, and hopelessly in love with her best friend (who also happens to be her brother's fiancée), Emily is as complex and compelling a female character as the real-life poet.
In a show inspired by the graphic novels published by Oni Press, How I Met Your Mother actress Colbie Smulders stars as Dex Parios, a savvy army veteran who becomes a private investigator in Portland, OR. Between her love life, her gambling debts, taking care of her brother, and butting heads with the police, Dex's unapologetic demeanor works well for her professional work, but not so much for her personal life — and yet you can't help but admire her.
This reboot of Joe Wright's 2011 action flick of the same name stars Esme Creed-Miles as the titular Hanna, a young woman who has spent her entire life in the secluded wilderness of northern Finland to be trained as a ruthless assassin by her father, Erik, a hardened and intuitive ex-CIA operative from Germany. Part thriller, part coming-of-age drama, Hanna is just as heart-wrenching as it is exhilarating.
If you're sick of TV moms who always make child-rearing look easy, then you're going to want to binge in to Workin' Moms, which follows four female friends — an ambitious PR executive, a no-nonsense psychiatrist, an IT tech with an identity crisis, and an unfailingly optimistic real estate agent — as they attempt to balance careers and family. From postpartum depression to the agonies of breastfeeding, this Canadian dramedy is never afraid to show the less glamorous side of being a new mom.
Based on the book Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West, this comedy series stars SNL's Aidy Bryant as an ambitious journalist who's trying to build her confidence while also navigating ailing parents, loser boyfriends, and other people's opinions about her body. Annie's journey is all about feeling comfortable in her own skin, not changing her appearance, and once she realizes her potential, she seriously owns it.
This drama series tells the true story of the movement to pass the Equal Rights Amendment as experienced by famous women of the '70s, including the conservative Phyllis Schlafly and second-wave feminists Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, Shirley Chisholm, Bella Abzug, and Jill Ruckelshaus. With a cast that includes Cate Blanchett, Rose Byrne, Sarah Paulson, Uzo Aduba, and Elizabeth Banks, among others, it's just as star-studded as it is inspiring.
Premiere date: April 15 on Hulu
Never Have I Ever
Produced by Mindy Kaling and Lang Fisher, this comedy series tells the story and struggles of a modern first-generation Indian-American teenage girl, played by newcomer Maitreyi Ramakrishna. With Kaling at the helm, you can expect a lot of unapologetic attitude and hilariously awkward situations.
Premiere date: April 27 on Netflix
Inspired by Crystal Moselle's 2018 film Skate Kitchen, this dramedy revolves around a diverse group of female skaters navigating the male-dominated world of skateboarding together in NYC. The series includes all the stars from Skate Kitchen, and we can't wait to see these skateboard-loving women killing it on the small screen.
Premiere date: May 1 on HBO
Nicole Kidman stars in this thriller series (which is based on the novel You Should Have Known by Jean Hanff Korelitz) as a successful therapist who realizes — a week before her book is due to be published — that her husband isn't who she thought he was. If you're looking for a show to fill the void left by Big Little Lies, this is it.
Premiere date: May 10 on HBO
Set in 18th-century Russia, this satirical, not-so-historically accurate series tells the story of Catherine the Great (played by Elle Fanning) and her rise from outsider to the longest-reigning female ruler in Russia's history. Let's just say that her husband, Emperor Peter III, never stood a chance.
Premiere Date: May 15 on Hulu
Selena: The Series
The Walking Dead's Christian Serratos stars in this biographical drama as the titular Selena Quintanilla-Pérez, a talented young Tejano performer who was tragically and unexpectedly killed in 1995 at the age of 23. Whether you're a Selena fan or not, this one is a must-watch.
Premiere date: TBD
Based on the graphic novel of the same name by Frank Miller and Tom Wheeler, this reimagining of King Arthur's coming-of-age legend stars Katherine Langford as Nimue, a teen destined to become the Lady of the Lake, who teams up with Arthur, a mercenary, in order to deliver an ancient sword to Merlin. If you like gender-bending fairytales, this one is for you.
Premiere date: TBD
Written by Álex Pina, who's also the producer of Money Heist, this drama series follows the investigation into the death of a legendary DJ, who goes missing one Summer in Ibiza and whose body is discovered there 20 years later. Laura Haddock stars as the DJ's fiercely determined sister, who travels to Ibiza and attempts to figure out what really happened to her brother.
Premiere date: TBD