Feminist Faves: 10 Women-Led Television Shows to Celebrate 2021

Since we appear to be in one of the dark timelines, it shouldn’t be any wonder that a lot of that good comes to us in the form of fictional media.

These 10 shows that came out this year captured my attention because of their distinctive and dynamic women characters. Most of these shows were created by women and/or employ many women as writers and directors of individual episodes. All of them feature compelling women protagonists or co-leads. 

2021’s Best Feminist Pop Culture Moments

From the swearing in of our first woman vice president, Kamala Harris, to the severe restrictions on reproductive rights, 2021 has been a mixed bag for feminism. Of course, popular culture—ever a pulse from which to measure the present moment—served as a guide this year for feminist expression.

Here is a list of what got us thinking and talking about feminism in popular culture.

Amazon’s Cinderella and Systemic Change: No More Patriarchy Means a Happy Ending For All

In Amazon’s Cinderella musical, Cinderella gets what she most wants because there is a radical shifting of structural power. The prince suddenly doesn’t have to marry for status, the queen is suddenly free to speak up and the king is suddenly understanding of how ridiculous gender bias is and anoints his daughter to be next in line.

If only in real life it were that simple. 

The White Lotus: Lessons on Black Lives Matter, Reparations and Queer Liberation

This summer’s finale of The White Lotus (TWL) garnered 1.9 million viewers and has been renewed by HBO for a second season. Overall, critics cast the first season of TWL as an entertaining, if bleak, satire of wealthy whiteness. In the words of one headline, “Nothing changes on The White Lotus. That’s the point.”

What’s missing from previous critical reviews is how TWL explores themes related to Black Lives Matter, reparations and queer liberation—or how TWL offers useful lessons for white progressives.

Maid’s Crucial Message: Emotional Abuse *Is* Abuse. Is America Ready to Acknowledge It?

Maid sheds light on the crucial issue of emotional abuse and coercive control— exposing viewers to the multiple systemic reasons why it takes a victim of domestic abuse seven attempts before she escapes for good.

Alex tries out four powerful words for the first time as she’s packing to move to the shelter: “Emotional abuse is abuse.” She said it to America. Are we ready to listen?

Naya Rivera: How “Glee” Helped Femme Lesbians Feel Seen

Naya Rivera’s tragic passing earlier this year has prompted many to look back on her legacy on “Glee.” In the years since its departure from the airwaves, Rivera’s portrayal of Santana Lopez is still making an impact in the lives of lesbian and bi women. As one of the few lesbian TV characters to ultimately have a happy ending, her story was ground-breaking and impactful from start to finish.