I’m probably not going to cure cancer cancer. I won’t be much help in preventing nuclear war.
But I can do my best to raise kind, responsible kids.
Right now, I’m staring down almost two full, kid-packed weeks of Christmas vacation. Weeks filled with love and laughter — and when that fails, Netflix and Amazon Prime.
So I’ve decided that, if my kids are going to be watching an excess of television (which they probably are), at least I’m going to seize the chance to fight back against Hollywood’s version of womanhood and, instead, feed my children a steady diet of TV shows and movies that celebrate strong women and girls.
It’s nice to get some inspiration for myself as well.
With that in mind, here’s my list of TV shows and movies with strong female leads available to watch now on streaming services. I just stuck with the major streaming surfaces. But there are other examples, such as “The Odd Squad” on PBS Kids and Disney Junior’s “Doc McStuffins” … although Disney Junior’s “Sofia the First” IS on Netflix. (Nope, I don’t know why one is and the other isn’t either.)
Some of these are more family-friendly than others. But they’re all so, so good.:
The Mary Tyler Moore Show (Hulu): I’m about 47 years late to this party, which debuted in 1970. I haven’t watched every episode. But Mary and Rhoda still charm nearly half a century after they first became neighbors.
Melody 1963 (Amazon Prime): My 8-year-old loves this story of this smart, kind and strong girl living through the civil rights era.
Just Add Magic (Amazon Prime): My kids (age 4, 6 and) cannot stop watching this series about three young witches. They’ve gone through seasons 1 and 2 multiple times. And with season 3 coming next month, I’m sure this will be what’s on our TV for most of January.
Arrival (Hulu and Amazon Prime): Amy Adams as a linguist tasked with bridging the communications gap between humans and Earth’s alien invaders. So smart and so much more.
Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman (Amazon Prime): I’d almost forgotten about this ’90s show, in which Jane Seymour stars as a female doctor newly arrived on the Western Frontier. High quality.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon Prime): The pilot for this show scored so well with audiences when it premiered last spring that Amazon immediately ordered two full seasons. Critics love it just as much. Rachel Brosnahan stars as Midge, a 1950s Upper West Side housewife who happens upon a career in stand-up comedy after her husband leaves her. The headline for this show writes itself. It truly is marvelous. Oh, and raunchy. Not family-friendly fare at all.
Jessica Jones (Netflix): Season 2 of this Marvel series arrives March 8. So now’s the perfect time to take in Season 1. Jessica Jones’s superhero is moody, dark, imperfect … and you love her. Plus, David Tennant is perfectly cast as Kilgrave, and Mike Colter as Luke Cage is equally stellar.
One Day At A Time (Netflix): This re-imagining of the 1970s/’80s tale of a single mom raising two kids is fresh and funny. There’s enough charm here to make a snake dance.
Moana (Netflix): The story of a girl who discovers herself while saving the people and her island, scored beautifully by Disney. It’s beautiful, sweet, inspiring … and it’s the girl who saves the day, even with a demigod as a partner.
The Bletchley Circle (Netflix): I’m not certain that this show is good enough to warrant my fondness for it. As the wife and mother of Brits, I’m fully anglophiled. This series didn’t last long in England, but is an enjoyable drama about four women who served as code breakers in World War II and put their skills to good use unraveling mysteries in the 1950s.
The Gilmore Girls (Netflix): If you like “Maisel” but want to watch something with your kids, this is the show. Both feature the same snappy, whiplash-inducing dialogue. But feature women characters fully capable of holding their own. Both are the brain child (brain children?) of Dan Palladino and Amy Sherman-Palladino.
“Star Wars” (Netflix and movie theaters): You have your pick here. Take in “Rogue One: a Star Wars Story” on Netflix or get yourself to the movie theater and watch “Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi.” Watch Jyn Erso lead a risky mission to steal the Death Star plans, or watch Rey and Leia save the Resistance and, perhaps, the galaxy? It’s an embarrassment of feminist riches, really.