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13 Essential Shows About Women You Can Stream Right Now

From an Anne of Green Gables adaptation to early Phoebe Waller-Bridge.

A still from 'The Queen's Gambit,' one of many shows for women on Netflix
KEN WORONER/NETFLIX
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At this point, there’s really no excuse for a new show not to pass the Bechdel test. But because we still live under the crushing thumb of the patriarchy, ensuring that women do something (anything!) more than have a conversation about a man onscreen is apparently not Hollywood’s utmost priority. This might land you stuck in a doom-scroll, scouring Netflix for shows for and about women.

Thankfully, some executives have discovered the profit potential in actually acknowledging the other half of the population and making stories catered to them. The statistics for women working in TV and film are still depressingly low, particularly for those behind the scenes and even more so for women of color. But there has been marginal improvement. At the very least, it seems that Hollywood has come around to the idea that they can’t make everything about straight, white men. This means there is actually a pretty decent selection of series for women on Netflix. Here are 13 highlights.

1

The Queen’s Gambit

In the 1950s, Beth Harmon (Anya Taylor-Joy) learns to play chess with the janitor at her orphanage while becoming reliant on tranquilizers (which the orphanage calls “vitamins”). He recognizes her incredible skill for the game, and she eventually becomes one of the best players in the world. The widely acclaimed drama follows her rise as she comes of age and continues to grapple with substance misuse.

2

Bridgerton

A romance set in Regency period London, Bridgerton explores the power dynamics of the era’s arranged marriage market. Young Daphne Bridgerton refuses to wed a man she doesn’t love, so she and the Duke of Hastings (who, for different reasons, also doesn’t want to marry) take matters into their own hands. Things. Get. Saucy.

3

Crashing

Years before Fleabag and Killing Eve catapulted Phoebe Waller-Bridge to international praise, she created and starred in Crashing, a comedy following a group of 20-somethings trying to save money by living together as property guardians in a vacant hospital. There are lots of rules to follow in the building, and the longer they all live together, the more entangled they become.

4

Good Girls

In this wildly underrated NBC dramedy, three suburban moms rob a supermarket in a desperate attempt to make ends meet. They (sort of, kind of) succeed and decide to launch increasingly complicated schemes. Come for their funny, fish-out-of-water descent into crime, stay for the unbearable sexual tension between Rio and Beth.

5

Derry Girls

This delightful coming-of-age series follows six friends from Northern Ireland as they navigate Catholic school in the ‘90s during the Troubles of Derry. It’s irresistibly funny, and you’ll come away from it with an arsenal of Irish idioms.

6

Dead to Me

Dead to Me is both a suspenseful thriller and a nuanced examination of female friendship. Christina Applegate stars as Jen, a widow who becomes fast friends with a woman named Judy (Linda Cardellini) from her grief support group. The catch? Judy isn’t exactly who she says she is, and she knows more about Jen’s husband than she’s letting on...

7

Anne with an E

Adapted from Lucy Maud Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables, Anne with an E follows Anne Shirley, who’s adoptive family hoped for a boy to tend to the family farm. Watch her defy the odds and triumph over bullying to prove she’s more powerful than any young man could be.

8

Grace & Frankie

Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin play enemies turned roommates turned business partners when they learn their husbands are cheating on them… with each other. Well past their “prime,” they’re forced to do some hilarious personal rediscovery and become best friends in the process.

9

Russian Doll

Like Groundhog’s Day but way cooler, Russian Doll follows the brash Nadia (Natasha Lyonne) as she attends a New York City party only to get stuck in a time loop — dying every night and waking up to relive the same day as if nothing happened. She has no clue how to solve the problem — until she meets someone experiencing the same thing.

10

GLOW

In an attempt to save her acting career, Ruth Wilder auditions for a wrestling show called Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling (aka GLOW), reuniting her with her estranged best friend and a crew of other L.A. misfits. The result is a smart and fun as hell story that highlights women who are both mentally and physically strong.

11

Self Made

Self Made isn’t perfect, but it’s nonetheless a compelling look at the life of Madam C.J. Walker, the first self-made female millionaire and a pioneer in Black women’s hair care and cosmetics.

12

The Crown

As a fictionalized retracing of Queen Elizabeth’s tenure, The Crown is more than a salacious look into the royal family’s many scandals. It’s an exploration of the pressures and challenges of being a ruling woman. Princess Anne’s sass and hating on Prince Charles are just added bonuses.

13

Unbelievable

Inspired by a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative report, this true crime miniseries revisits a string of rapes that took place in Colorado and Washington between 2008 and 2011, focusing on a woman named Marie who was charged for lying about her own assault. It’s a hard but evocative watch that nails the various ways in which law enforcement is still ill-equipped to handle cases of sexual assault.