Five More Amazing Female-led Shows to Binge On

All the way back in April (a lifetime ago) I made a list of six Netflix shows that were worth a binge and had a common thread: they all starred – and in some cases were even made by – women. And while I may not be thrilled about Lockdown 2.0, it feels like the right time to follow up on that post with another batch of great shows featuring incredible female characters. This time I’ve expanded my radar and included a few series you’ll find on BBC and Sky TV (soz if you don’t have a TV license), because there’s more to life than Netflix (shocking, I know).

I May Destroy You (BBC/HBO)

I think it’s impossible to write about I May Destroy You without writing a love letter to Michaela Cole, the creator and star of the show. The first time I came across the multifaceted artist was when she starred in (and yes, also wrote) the hilarious Channel 4 (and now on Netflix) series Chewing Gum, which sadly never got a third season. With scene-stealing supporting roles in Black Mirror and other series, Cole truly stands out in her own creations. A raw depiction of rape and sexual assault, I May Destroy You is unsurprisingly much darker than Chewing Gum, and yet is still ridiculously humorous. It brilliantly explores the many layers of sexuality, love, consent and gender politics. The lines are blurry, nothing is black and white, and, much like people in real life, none of the characters are entirely good or bad – thus making the series incredibly painful and relatable. Moreover, the fact that the main characters are black and that their black identity is so relevant to the storyline feels more important than ever. It’s not the easiest of watches, but it’s a poignant must-see that truly matters.

Number of seasons: 1 (12 episodes).

Episode duration: 30 minutes.

Binge-ability: Like I said, the subject matter is hard, and with each episode comes a fair amount of intensity and even unpleasantness – but you’ll be hooked.

I Hate Suzie (Sky TV)

This is probably one of the weirdest shows I will have seen all year, as each episode is an absolute trip to say the least. Billie Piper stars as Suzie, a child-star-turned-reputable-actress who gets caught up in a sex scandal – what follows next is essentially the demise of her marriage, career and mental state. But one can only rise from the ashes, and this is ultimately a story of self-discovery and an ode to female friendship (the relationship between Suzie and her manager – one of the best characters in the show – is priceless). Piper is highly convincing as the erratic, unstable and, as the title implies, pretty annoying main character – while at times it is hard to empathise with her poor decisions, it is even harder to not ultimately vouch for her. Intense, quirky, trippy and funny, I’d go as far as saying that I Hate Suzie is one of the most original shows of 2020.

Number of seasons: 1 (8 episodes).

Episode duration: 30 minutes.

Binge-ability: You might need a break in between episodes as they are INTENSE – but you’ll also be desperate to see how the story unfolds.

The Duchess (Netflix)

Are you a fan of Canadian comedian Katherine Ryan? Then you’ll probably already have watched The Duchess on Netflix. I can’t say I loved Ryan’s acting on this show, but it’s a super fun and easy watch seeing her play a single mum of a cute 9-year-old who wants to have another child with the father of her daughter. As the show was partly created by Ryan I couldn’t help but wonder if any of it was autobiographical, but either way what I love the most about it was the adorable relationship between the mother and daughter duo.

Number of seasons: 1 (6 episodes).

Episode duration: 30 minutes.

Binge-ability: You could easily watch it in an afternoon.

Love Life (BBC/HBO)

How has this show not been more talked about? Anna Kendrick (who also serves as one of the show’s Executive Producers) is perfect in this 10-part dramedy series with a simple but oh-so-elaborate premise – it follows the life of a New Yorker called Darby Carter and all the highs and lows she goes through before finding ‘The One’. But this isn’t your standard rom-com in a TV format – the dose of cheesiness and gloss is surprisingly minimal and pretty much everyone who watches this show will be able to relate to the many obstacles Darby faces while looking for love and self-acceptance. Nuanced, funny and sad, Love Life not only depicts romantic love, but also explores how one’s relationship with a parent can inevitably shape and define how we seek love. In fact, one of the most interesting, and moving, relationships that the series explores is the one between Darby and her mother – again, surprisingly not that cheesy.

This has honestly been one of my favourite shows from 2020 – I wouldn’t be surprised if it turns into an anthology series and returns for another season.

Number of seasons: 1 (10 episodes).

Episode duration: 30 minutes.

Binge-ability: Very, very high – but at the same time it really is worth savouring.

The Queen’s Gambit (Netflix)

I’m ending this post with a bang, because I’m sure you’ve already heard of / binged the beauty of the Netflix original drama that is The Queen’s Gambit. Based on an 1983 novel by Walter Tevis, the series tells the story of a young female chess prodigy who struggles with a drug and alcohol addiction in 1960’s America. What I found the most surprising is that despite having been created by men, the level of male-gazing on this show is practically non-existent. Sure, Anya Taylor-Joy is undeniably beautiful, but it is her quirky character, confidence, passion and drive that make her irresistible. Also, her initial lack of interest in the opposite sex is rather refreshing.

I would like to think that people who play and love chess will like this show – but as someone who doesn’t have a clue about chess I can confirm that I loved every minute of it. It is beautifully made and as an added plus has some excellent fashion moments. I was also especially moved by the heartbreaking relationship between Taylor-Joy’s character and her adoptive mother, played by Marie Heller – these two actresses make the show.

Number of seasons: 1 (7 episodes).

Episode duration: 1 hour.

Binge-ability: The episodes may be long, but once you start you probably won’t want to stop. Then again, it really is one of those series that should be enjoyed with ease rather than rushing into it.

2020 has been one hell of a year, but at least it’s been refreshing and empowering to see so many great shows that are not only led and created by women, but that also dare to defy conventional standards and gender norms. Fingers crossed 2021 will be a better year and give us even more female empowerment – and not just in the form of media and entertainment.

xxx

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