Your Girl’s Night In: Best Series to Binge
March 1, 2019
Binge Away: Best Series For Women
Winter is in full swing, which means the evenings are long. If you are anything like me, high hopes for summer have you on a budget. This means more nights in instead of out on the town. I can’t complain, though. I’ve found a bunch of awesome female-forward shows to watch and I don’t hate curling up on the couch and watching women own the screen.
If you are looking for some binge-worthy shows to fill your evenings at home, the following list features series with strong female characters who are exploring their lives in captivating ways. I have watched every episode of each pick, so you know my recommendations come from personal experience and passion for women’s stories. Read on to find your next woman-centered adventure, then grab some popcorn and enjoy.
The Best Series for Badass Women
Workin’ Moms (Netflix)
photo: Homecoming via fb
Homecoming (Amazon Prime)
Who is sick of misogyny in the workplace?! I am! Small spoiler alert—in the end, there’s a little dose of satisfying revenge.
Julia Roberts plays Heidi Bergman, a caseworker fresh out of school and hoping to climb the corporate ladder. She works at the Homecoming facility: a place that is supposed to help soldiers transition back to civilian life.
This story begins after Bergman has left her job, moved in with her mom, and started working as a waitress. Things start to unravel when the Department of Defense comes to investigate the real reason why she left and she begins to remember a forgotten past. This is a great mystery that is also a pretty quick watch, with 10 episodes that are only about 30 minutes each.
photo: Alias Grace via fb
Alias Grace (Netflix)
Thank the stars for Margret Atwood! She gave us The Handmaid’s Tail, which was turned into an award-winning show, and in 1969, she managed to pen the book that would eventually give us this enthralling series. One of the things I love most about Alias Grace is that, though it’s certainly a time-piece, it forces viewers to examine the complexities of womanhood and the consequences of misogyny.
Alias Grace tells the story of a poor Irish immigrant girl—Grace Marks—who attempts to support herself as a domestic servant in Canada after being tossed out by her abusive father. She and a man named James McDermott are convicted of killing her employer and his housekeeper (who was also his lover). Grace is sentenced to life in prison, and her tale unfolds as a psychiatrist attempts to determine whether she should be pardoned due to insanity. You will find yourself wondering, right alongside the psychiatrist, whether she is innocent, guilty, possessed, or completely crazy.
Based on actual 19th-century events, Alias Grace makes you take a hard look at the history of the treatment of women. You will have a hard time peeling yourself away from this one.
photo: Sharp Objects via fb
Sharp Objects (HBO)
This mini-series is based on a novel by Gillian Flynn. I read it shortly after it was published and fell in love with her work. When I found out it was being made into a series, I was skeptical. But, I love Amy Adams, who plays the lead character, so I decided to dive in as soon as it came out. It was absolutely captivating.
Amy Adam’s performance as Camille Preaker, the emotionally-unstable reporter who is tortured by her past, is spot on. I thought she might have difficulty overcoming her natural “good girl” feel, but she embodies the role perfectly. Everything from the cinematography to the soundtrack transports viewers to Camille’s hometown—Wind Gap—in Missouri, where she has returned to cover the story of two young girls who have gone missing. While she is there, she is forced to deal with her own dark past and mental illness while she unravels the mystery.
Once you start this show, you won’t be able to stop it. Go into it prepared: it’s dark.
photo: The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina via fb
The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (Netflix)
I’m not going to even pretend that I watched the 1990’s sitcom version of this story. Its many iterations never caught my attention before. But, this new version had me hooked immediately. I’m not going to lie, I was skeptical at first. As a 44-year-old woman, I feel a bit silly watching teen-witch or teen-anything shows, but The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is straight-up adult. And by adult, I mean the female characters are strong (all of them), the storyline is creepy, and the feminist slant is not subtle.
This show is scary (really scary at times) and a bit gory. That’s one of the things I like most about it. It plays with being kind of campy, but then quickly shifts and becomes downright chilling. In fact, I would classify some of the episodes as horror (one of my favorite genres). It’s refreshing to watch female characters of all ages and ethnicities kick ass in a thriller/horror show, rather than scream and cry and trip and die. So if you like your shows a little scary, with plenty of kickass women, give this series a try.
photo: X-Files via fb
X-Files Seasons 10 & 11 (Amazon)
Look, I was an X-Files fanatic back in the day. I watched every episode, planned my Friday nights (while in college) around the show, and mourned and mourned after it was taken off the air. I don’t care what any of the other reviews say: I think season 10, and especially season 11, were great. Season 11 felt a lot like the old show to me, and I made my way through the episodes in the blink of an eye. I love X-Files for plenty of reasons, but I love it mostly for Gillian Anderson. First, she is totally one of my most beloved sheroes. She has proven to the world that women do get better with age (Gillian, please, please share your secret with us). Second, her character is intelligent, strong, sexy, emotionally intelligent…you name it, and she’s got it. Every woman wants to be her. Well, at least I do. If you want a couple of highly entertaining, supernatural nights, I recommend these last two seasons.
photo: courtesy of Netflix
While the lead character is a man (Marty Byrde) who is seemingly caught up in a man’s criminal world, it is the women that make this show truly excellent. From dissatisfied wife, Wendy Byrde, played by the incredible Laura Linny, to the hardened young Ruth, played by Julia Garner, to the deadly Darlene Snell, played by Lisa Emery—the women own this show. You will likely relate to each of them; love them, loathe them, fear them, and eventually want to be like one of them or the other. Season 1 hooked me, but the women really took the lead in season 2. You can get a good week of watching out of this nail-biter of a series.
photo: Westworld via fb
Westworld Seasons 1 & 2 (HBO)
Chances are good that you’ve heard of this show, but have you watched it? If not, link up with HBO and dive in. The female protagonists in this series are seriously badass. The characters explore all of the different facets of womanhood as they slowly begin to discover the nature of their reality and then set out to explore the boundaries of their world and the world beyond. Watching each of the female characters evolve is fascinating and horrifying. I found myself wondering what it would take for me to grow in the same direction they do. Love, sex, motherhood, survival: what would you kill for?
photo: Alienist via fb
The Alienist (HBO & TNT)
Dakota Fanning’s character, Sara Howard, made this murder mystery extra interesting for me. Watching her character — a trailblazer attempting to climb the ladder from her position as the first woman hired as a police secretary to Theodor Roosevelt, to the first female police detective — is truly inspiring. It’s actually quite relatable, as well, as we are all currently watching a long list of women become “firsts”. In general, the show is solid, focusing on Alienist Dr. Kriezeler as he attempts to catch a serial killer. But Fanning’s performance as a strong, capable and ambitious woman doesn’t disappoint.
Fanning isn’t the only female character to take note of in this series. Mary Palmer, Dr. Kreizer’s housekeeper, played by Q’orianka Kilcher, is subtly essential to the whole storyline, and Kilcher’s performance, as well as her character’s story, stayed with me for days.
The Obvious Best Series Must-Sees
The following have been covered by every female-leaning pub, but we definitely didn’t want to leave them out: