A lot of the media would have women believe the only things that ever get promoted are beautiful bimbos in bikinis. And while that may be the style of Michael Bay (sorry, dude), it’s certainly not the norm anymore.
From kick-ass leading ladies to snarky girl relationships that teach us all how to be better debaters, there’s plenty out there that will remind you it’s not all about Baywatch, and they’re all streaming on U.S. Netflix. For international viewers, check out these tips from Secure Thoughts on how to watch Netflix outside of the U.S., so you too can grab your remote and pop open Apple TV for some much-needed girl power binge watching!
Jessica Jones’ take on female superheroism is something that has sparked the industry in a way that hasn’t been seen in any other television show, and it’s got all the execs talking. With frank conversations about rape and its portrayal of queer relationships, it’s Marvel’s first dive into the world outside of vanilla heterosexuality, and it’s not the only thing keeping everyone talking. From being called “a hardboiled feminist” to a “female anti-hero,” it’s obvious that Jessica Jones’ character has some actual depth, making her an anomaly in the otherwise male-dominated cinematic culture and is fascinating to watch.
Nothing signifies girl power better than a woman who flouts protocol to do exactly as she pleases, and Iris is that Big Apple chameleon. This documentary may be about fashion, but it doesn’t dilute the raw otherness of Iris Apfel, a nonagenarian living, working and dressing in Astoria, New York City, and it makes her all the more remarkable. The documentary is about a businesswoman, interior designer and fashion icon, but Iris is not your average story. It’s about breaking the mold, giving into inspiration and not being afraid to be a little bit different. Who doesn’t need more of that in their life?
The only thing better than a little personal rebellion is a full-on national rebellion, and the girls at the heart of the miniseries Rebellion are certainly embroiled in something quite serious. Set in Ireland in 1916, the character-driven miniseries is positioned at the start of the Easter Uprising to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of one of the most defining moments in U.K. and Irish history. While history spoils the end of this five-part television series, the attachment to the characters at the center of the story and their fates is one that will compel you not to put the remote down until the very end. From fighting for what you believe in to learning the power of relationships and consequences, Rebellion is a tale for those who are interested in historical tales that, for once, put a highlight on the women at the center of them.
Debuting at the Berlin Film Festival and the Toronto Film Festival in 2005, Amu is the tale of an Indian-American 21-year-old who travels to India to discover the culture of her past but uncovers something much more life changing. When Kaju, a recent UCLA graduate, decides to return to the country of her birth, she bypasses the traditional tourist track by visiting the crowded markets and slums of India to find she has serious feelings of having been there before. Between meeting new friends and coming face-to-face with her family in Delhi, the secrets of her past start to unravel as she delves further into the neighborhoods that bring back scarring, unbelievable memories. Unlike many films with female protagonists at the center, Amu doesn’t rely solely on others to help Kaju discover her past, and instead, the film illustrates how girl grit and intensity can expose a national conspiracy and cover-up. Talk about lady power—this film has it in spades.
V for Vendetta
Natalie Portman’s turn in V for Vendetta may have reinvigorated the on-screen head shaving trend in cinema, but she also sparked plenty of female protagonists to go out of their way to fight the patriarchy—hello, Katniss Everdeen—down the road. Based on the 1988 comic series of the same name, V for Vendetta is a new-age dystopian thriller that centers on an anarchist vigilante and the working woman who gets entangled in his plans. The 2020 depiction of the world is one that is both terrifying and almost believable in these confusing political times, and it will make the viewer wonder whether truth is more important than safety.
Dear White People
Labeled as “the movie for the Obama generation,” Dear White People had shock value with its title alone, but it follows through past first impressions and makes for a great girl power watch. Following Samantha, “Sam,” a biracial twenty-something going to school for film production at a predominately white college, the movie starts with her feeling the racial tension in her life and on her campus. She’s compelled her to start the broadcasting program Dear White People to criticize the racially fueled wrongdoings of white culture on her campus. Full of laughs, truths and wonderfully non-cookie-cutter characters, Dear White People is sarcastic, out to make its voice heard and, personally, I think it’s worth a listen.
The return of the Gilmore glamour to television has to be one of the most anticipated revivals ever to grace the small screen. Original gal pals Rory and Lorelai bring their bantering and family-friendly drama back for a second round, and it’s great news for lovers of strong female characters who have intelligence and extreme knowledge of pop culture. We’ve gotten a sneak peek at Stars Hollow and Luke’s Diner, which means there’s a couple returning characters in store, but even if you’re a newbie to the series, you’ll fall in love with this mother-daughter duo that reminds us why family and friendship are the greatest parts of our lives. Catch the original series on Netflix before the show returns in November.
If you’re into the kind of female characters who know when to talk and not listen, say what they think no matter consequences and give it all up for the things they believe in, watching the shows on this Netflix playlist is sure to entertain you for weeks—and I can’t say that I blame you. Have any other girl power movies and TV shows you like to watch? Leave a comment down below; I’m always looking for new material to devour.
Caroline is an entertainment, culture and feminist prose junkie. Having read and watched everything from Harry Potter to Ghost World, she’s all about strong female characters who remind her that all ladies don’t come in the same shape, size or type. Check out more of her work at Culture Coverage.