13 TV Episodes That Actually Talk About Women & Their Periods


For some reason, one of the very basic functions of the human body still remains taboo to even joke about in polite company, probably because it happens primarily to women. Most people with a uterus get their period and still, you rarely see periods depicted on TV, in movies, or talked about in public, while other bodily functions like pooping get entire television series built around them. Menstruation and all the issues that go along with it have, like many "women's health" issues, been uncomfortable topics of conversation for men and by extension, women, who have been taught to literally hide the fact that they get their period. A lot of that has to do with representation in pop culture.

Dr. Lauren Rosewarne, author of Periods In Pop Culture, tells Bustle via email that media representations of menstruation can help fight period stigma. But it also perpetuates it. "Film and TV provides an informal - and ongoing - education on a range of topics. While education is not it's primary function, nonetheless, we still glean information from it. This means that if we're going to get an informal education on menstruation from the screen, ideally it should not only reflect the drama of it all, but notably also the thorough ordinariness in which most women experience it," she says.

Some earlier period episodes perpetuate stigma or dangerous gender stereotypes, such as dads who "just can't (or won't) understand" their daughters or that menstruation is something to be embarrassed about. But it's been getting so much better, thanks to the sheer quantity of TV these days and more women, from all walks of life, in writing rooms.

Rosewarne says that the rise of cable TV and streaming services has "led to a greatly flexibility about what content is shown: audiences have validated their acceptance of - if not enjoyment for - more risqué content by continuing to pay for such services." She adds that this has led to not just more depictions, but conversations about menstruation. Below, you'll find 13 TV episodes that have contributed greatly to that conversation and paved the way for more to come.

'Roseanne' — Season 1, Episode 15

Roseanne and Dan know something's up with Darlene, but at first think she's just worried about basketball. Instead, she's freaked out about starting her first period and what that means. The episode is on YouTube, and the entirety of Roseanne's original run is available to stream with Amazon Prime, and to purchase via YouTube and your iTunes account.

'Black-ish' — Season 4, Episode 6

Diane gets her period in this episode, and thanks to the supportive women in her life, it's a really empowering experience. Oh, if only all of us had Tracee Ellis Ross as our mom, right? Watch the full episode on ABC's website, or stream it on Hulu.

'Degrassi' —The Next Generation: Season 1, Episode 9

Emma has an unfortunate encounter involving her unexpected period and a white skirt in this episode, which you can see the entirety of on YouTube.

'Mad Men' — Season 5, Episode 12

On this episode of Mad Men, Sally clashes with her mother, and gets her first period while attempting to woo a boy she likes. It's a stressful few days, to say the least. The entire series, including this episode, is available to stream on Netflix.

'Big Mouth' — Season 1, Episode 2

With the help of a musical number or two, Netflix's risque, coming of age comedy Big Mouth takes on Jessi's first period in a frank way. The entire first season is available to stream on Netflix, and you can also see the charming "Everybody Bleeds" tune on its own on YouTube.

'New Girl' — Season 2, Episode 7

While this one wasn't about someone getting their period for the first time, is an iconic episode that puts periods — and cramps — front and center. It's also where all those amazing GIFs of Jess explaining her PMS symptoms comes from. You can stream "Menzies" on YouTube for $1.99 or on Netflix.

'The Middle' — Season 3, Episode 1& 2

Sue gets her period during a camping trip in this episode — definitely not an ideal situation — and Frankie wakes the entire family with some less than supportive comments. The scene has been uploaded to YouTube, and full episodes of The Middle are available to purchase on YouTube and through your iTunes account.

'Broad City' — Season 3, Episode 10

Broad City deals kind of lot with personal issues like these, but in this particularly memorable episode, Abby and Ilana try to find a tampon while on an airplane. Watch the scene on Comedy Central's website, where the full season is also available or stream it on Hulu.

'Crazy Ex-Girlfriend' — Season 2, Episode 7

One of the most iconic musical numbers from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is about something even more taboo than talking about cramps in mixed company — period sex. The song is available to watch on YouTube, and the first three seasons of the show are available to stream on Netflix.

'Orange Is The New Black' — Season 5, Episode 1

Orange Is The New Black is another show that definitely doesn't shy away from showing women's experiences in all their glory. Remember when inmate Gina used her period to convince a guard she was injured? Crafty. And also one of the rare moments actual period blood is addressed in media as just something that's there. That episode and more are available to stream on Netflix.

'Braceface' — Season 1, Episode 8

This animated kids' show was a staple for a lot of us growing up, and who could forget when Sharon first encountered her period, and the pain of cramps, while on a first date? Yikes. The episode is available to watch for free on YouTube.

'Game of Thrones' — Season 2, Episode 7

Even a young woman embroiled in the dramatic and violent world of Game of Thrones can't escape the reality of getting her period. In this scene from Season 2, she finds blood on her sheets. The rest of the entire episode (and series) is available to stream on HBO Now, or HBOgo with a subscription.

'Blossom' — Season 1, Episode 2

Almost right off the bat, the 1990s sitcom Blossom hit its viewers with a period discussion. The titular character even gets a cake to commemorate the occasion. Watch the full episode for free on YouTube.

Working this life experience into TV and pop culture can really mean something for women's rights, even in small doses. Women and their bodies are so often dismissed altogether or seen as "inappropriate" when they're not being displayed or interacted with for the pleasure of others, and that's just got to stop. The more periods are featured as a normal part of life on TV, the more we can try and break the totally unnecessary stigma that surrounds them.