The past few weeks I have been going heavy with my blogs but today, in the spirit of fall and the new TV season, I am going to go lighter. There are so many great TV shows about women and I want to share the joy.
I LOVE TV. Love it. I think the variety of spectacular offerings on both network and cable TV has changed our lives and our culture in many ways. And not just because of the hours we lose binge watching.
(One of my favorite ads for Netflix…10:45. Otherwise known as “time for one more…”)
TV today takes us places that we have never been before. It makes our hearts beat faster and our minds race. It lets us into the lives and minds of a myriad of unfamiliar characters. It allows us insight that might not have been possible before. All from the comfort of our couches.
With that in mind I was considering my favorite shows. Top two: Sons of Anarchy and The Walking Dead. Yes, bikers and zombies. People look at me like I have two heads when I say that.
Sometimes I wonder too, particularly because there are so many amazing TV shows written for and about women. Shows that are wonderful and perfect for bingeing.
#1 – Masters of Sex.
Set in the 1950s and 60s, the show follows the research and relationship of two of the pioneering researchers of human sexuality, Virginia Johnson and Bill Masters. Over the four season arc we witness first hand what it was, and was not, to be a sexual woman back in the day.
What did their research prove? That women could have orgasms and needed sex as much as men. That foreplay was an integral part of sexual pleasure. That it was not only okay for women to use birth control but necessary to give them the freedom to succeed on their own terms.
Was their research well received? Not so much.
In these days, when pornography is just another thing on your platform of choice, the sexual naivete of the time seems incredible. But all women should see it, to revel in how far we have come in just few decades.
#2 – Casual.
This TV show is about a middle-aged women, Valerie, whose husband trades her in for a younger model. She and her teen-aged daughter, Laura, move in with her brother, Alex, the owner of a matchmaking start-up who is totally dumbfounded by relationships of any kind.
The show is multi-faceted. It covers the at times dysfunctional relationships that exist in families and also digs into the scary and often intimidating world of dating and sex in 2016.
It is alternatively hilarious and devastatingly sad but the half hour episodes are each one a gem on their own.
#3 – Unreal.
The premise for this TV show is brilliant. It goes behind the scenes of a Bachelor-like reality TV show and gets into the minds of it’s two female producers, Quinn and her protégé Rachel.
This show is hilarious in it’s portrayal of the real world of reality TV but is also a picture window sized view into the heads of the two highly ambitious women, both of them deeply flawed, who will do anything to get what they want.
Over two seasons we see them manipulate the suitor, the contestants, each other and those who work with them to make the story completely their own. And that story is at times, literally, deadly.
That these women are capable of what they do, while simultaneously seeking love and happiness in their personal lives, is mind-boggling. And not entirely surprising.
It is a cautionary tale in many ways. And a guilty pleasure.
#4 – Nurse Jackie.
This incredible TV show stars Edie Falco, the talented actress behind Carmela Soprano in The Sopranos.
Edie plays Nurse Jackie, a wife, a mother and the best ER nurse at All Saint’s Hospital in NYC. She is also a drug addict.
Over the seven season arc we see Jackie as she alternately soars and falls. She is a remarkably talented and empathetic nurse but her drug abuse causes her to lie, cheat and steal. And while she pulls off her double life for a while ultimately it all catches up to her.
Nurse Jackie is a real woman, with all of the issues and challenges of a real woman in this world, and one with a natural talent for giving back in a life changing way. That she lives with a secret is no different from all of us. And, as we all know, secrets can be our undoing.
#5 – Big Love.
This is the story of a Morman family, Bill Henrickson and his three wives, Barb, Nickie and Margie, who live in the suburbs of Salt Lake City: . This is a man with three families in three houses all next door to each other, a man with three times the joys and heartbreak that having even one wife can bring.
It is also the story of a polygamist sect that lives off the grid in the desert and is led by a charismatic old man, Bill’s father, who has many young wives and dabbles in crime and treachery.
The juxtaposition, and overlap, of these two stories, of suburban domestic life and life in a cult, makes for fascinating TV. Even more fascinating, and at time more dangerous, is the relationship between the three wives, three women sharing a man and a marriage.
Take a moment and think about the reality of that situation.
Women are complicated. We bring so much love and grace into the world but also have a unique ability to shake everything up, in good ways and bad.
That TV these days presents these women, with all of their faults and virtues, is a gift. Gone are the days of Carol Brady and Laura Petrie, two one-dimensional characters who play off the multi-dimensions of their husbands. We are many things but we are not one-dimensional.
Every woman should watch these shows. Enjoy them. Learn from them. Tell your friends about them. Indulge.
You have my permission. Go for it!
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I am a NYC based Certified Life Coach and mental health advocate. My writing has been published on The Huffington Post, Prevention, Psych Central, Pop Sugar, MSN and The Good Man Project, among others. I work with all kinds of people to help them go from depressed and overwhelmed to confident and happy in their relationships and in their world.