When I say empowering, this means that the main character will struggle, they may not even overcome it, they may accept or rebel against it. What I find gives me strength is relating to hardship and seeing them find the resilience to continue and seek relief in small things. It keeps me real and I am humbled by their journey, boosted as well as being entertained. This selection features five relatively recent shows that all have something unique about them and a real intention of creating an aesthetic that defines them.
Takes first place because season 2 just came out and did not disappoint. The show also went from being “lez-erotic” to including wlw romance, yay. Alison Brie delivers a powerful performance and the gritty ambience has sharp edges and soft corners making for a fascinating universe. Show-business is put under the microscope in the small confines of a boxing ring with pink ropes and an eclectic squad of women. Ridiculously hilarious.
Synopsis: “Ruth Wilder, an out-of-work actress living in Los Angeles in the ’80s. Wilder finds an unexpected chance at stardom: enter the glitter and spandex-laden world of women’s wrestling, where she must work alongside 12 other Hollywood misfits. Marc Maron plays the role of Sam Sylvia, a washed-up director of “B” movies who tries to lead the group of women to fame.”
Created by: Carly Mensch and Liz Flahive, who serve as executive producers with Jenji Kohan and Tara Herrmann.
Number of seasons: 2 (20 episodes) renewed
IMDB rating: 8/10
It may be because I was not feeling my best that day but POSE made me cry so much upon first viewing: and I’m not talking tearing up, I’m talking full on sobbing. With the topics it tackles such as transgender discrimination, HIV/Aids, homelessness in the backdrop of 70s Trump America POSE gives visibility and fierceness to the underdogs. I also laughed out loud and swooned because the show manages to convey the subtleties of everyday life and the power of love through incredible visuals and in-depth character building. A must watch.
Synopsis: “Set in the 1980s, “Pose” is a dance musical that explores the juxtaposition of several segments of life and society in New York: the ball culture world, the rise of the luxury Trump-era universe, and the downtown social and literary scene. Blanca forms a “house,” a self-selected family that provides support to LGBTQ youth who have been rejected by their birth families […]” and craft her legacy.
Created by: Steven Canals, Brad Falchuk, Ryan Murphy
Number of seasons 1 (5 episodes ongoing)
IMDB rating: 8,2/10
SMILF hit hard for me for its unapologetic portrayal of eating disorders, namely bulimia. It covers many topics such as sexual assault, precarity and loneliness: in each the same no-bullshit viewpoint is carried through. As such it is different from the hyper- photogenic aesthetics of GLOW and POSE and it does not try to elevate Bridgette’s day to day life or glorify her. The story line is raw and loosely autobiographic, and perhaps that is where the show’s empowerment comes from: after all this, Frankie Shaw gets to tell her own story and share her experience through her own lens. With dark humour and absurd situations. Sit back and respect.
Synopsis: “Bridgette Bird is a smart, scrappy, young single mom trying to navigate life in South Boston with an extremely unconventional family. She struggles to make ends meet, which leads her to impulsive and at times immature decisions. Above all, Bridgette wants to make a better life for her son. SMILF takes on motherhood, co-parenting, and female sexuality through a raw and unfiltered lens.”
Created by: Frankie Shaw
Number of seasons: 1 (8 episodes) renewed
IMDB rating: 6,8/10
I was instantly pulled in by the plot of Vida, the trailer gives too much away: the story is built in the details, in the layers of emotions each character chooses to disclose or repress. Set in East Los Angeles, family and love are again central themes but also gentrification and female sexuality. The camera angles and visuals are sensitive, subtle and sometimes violent. After a death in the family each member feel the movement differently. This is the factor that gives the viewer catharsis: outside of any dichotomy each character is caught in their subjectivity as they cope with life and keep going forward, letting go. Great soundtrack.
Synopsis: “Vida” is a drama series about two Mexican-American siblings from East Los Angeles. Party girl Lyn lives a carefree life in the Bay Area. She couldn’t be more different than, or distanced from, her sister Emma, with whom she has no relationship.”
Created by : Tanya Saracho
Number of seasons: 1 (6 episodes) renewed
IMDB score: 6,7/10
You might have guessed by now that I appreciate shows that feature strong yet vulnerable characters. Insecure, up to its name reclames the power of what was once a weakness and turns it into a strength by acknowledging it. I won’t put the trailer down but this rap that stuck with me. The characters are attaching, the friendship relatable and I found Issa’s struggle at work inspiring. Issa Rae was previously critically acclaimed for her web series Awkward Black Girl and is now working on a new show that features a bisexual black man “Him or Her”. Keep going woman!
Synopsis: “Modern-day black women might be described as strong and confident; in other words, just the opposite of Issa and Molly. As the best friends deal with their own real-life flaws, their insecurities come to the fore as together they cope with an endless series of uncomfortable everyday experiences. […] It features the music of both indie and established artists of colour, and touches on a variety of social and racial issues that relate to the contemporary black experience.
Created by: Issa Rae, Larry Wilmore
Number of seasons : 2 (16 episodes ongoing), renewed
Network : HBO
Watching these shows had me completely captivated and full of admiration for the people that made it happen. I am grateful such amazing shows are out these and I hope I was able to pass on the info. Let me know in the comments if you tried any and what you thought !