Where are the watchable light TV shows about women?
May 4, 2021 2:37 PM   Subscribe

I'm all caught up on Younger and I need more TV shows along these lines, preferably with multiple seasons. What I like: women, being good at their jobs/pursuits, who are also flawed. Prefer light over drama right now but would take a juicy drama. Romance is ok, soapy is ok as long as it isn't cringe-worthy. Other series I've liked inside.

Here's what I've seen and liked: Emily in Paris (yes, this was especially frothy), Sex & the City, The Good Wife, The Good Fight (LOVED this), early seasons of Grey's Anatomy, Parks n Rec, 30 Rock, Gilmore Girls.

What I've seen and haven't liked: Firefly Lane, Scandal, Virgin River (I've only seen the first 1.5 episodes and found it too Lifetime-y but would be willing to try again).
posted by CiaoMela to Media & Arts (60 answers total) 54 users marked this as a favorite
Drop Dead Diva!
posted by TheCavorter at 2:44 PM on May 4 [8 favorites]

Have you seen Dix pour Cent/Call My Agent? In a similar but much, much bleaker and darker vein is Flack.
posted by sardonyx at 2:44 PM on May 4 [4 favorites]

I really enjoyed the reboot of One Day at a Time on Netflix. It's light but grounded. Easy to watch. (But do beware that it was cancelled, after 3 seasons, so storylines weren't all tied up neatly.)

Oh, Workin' Moms is excellent! Great writing and good, but flawed characters. It's not 100% light/fluff, but easy to watch and very entertaining.

Grace and Frankie is also great, and has two empowered women on it.

I have mixed feeling on I'm Sorry. The main character is funny and a strong woman. But everything is punny and a 1-liner. I watch it in the background, and I may or may not watch another season if it comes on. But it was easy to binge through.
posted by hydra77 at 2:45 PM on May 4 [10 favorites]

I came here to suggest Workin’ Moms, it’s really wonderful.
posted by third word on a random page at 2:47 PM on May 4 [2 favorites]

BTW, feel free to drop by the Younger FanFare discussion.
posted by sardonyx at 2:50 PM on May 4

Zooey’s Incredible Playlist.
posted by slateyness at 2:50 PM on May 4 [4 favorites]

Casa des Flores is a fun ensemble show and the female characters feature prominently. It's also just beautiful to look at.
posted by coffeecat at 2:52 PM on May 4

Jane the Virgin is very self-awarely cringe worthy but in a very likable (loveable even) way.

Cougar town is great (the first season is less great but they pretty quickly abandon their dumb premise) no one ever seems to even DO their job in that show though :P

I enjoyed "Dead to me" though I've only seen the first season, and "The Santa Clarita Diet" is very fun.

I just rewatched Golden Girls and enjoyed the experience!
posted by euphoria066 at 2:54 PM on May 4 [7 favorites]

The Bold Type! Always The Bold Type! It really does not feel "real" (especially now) and has some darker elements but it's about three young women trying to figure out themselves. There's a lot of ... escapism? implausibility? but the cast is so great and it also feels surprisingly grounded.

The last season ended abruptly for pandemic reasons and there will be a shortened final season to wrap it up starting this month, but perfect opportunity to get caught up! It's all on Hulu. (There are 46 episodes so far.)
posted by edencosmic at 2:55 PM on May 4 [5 favorites]

Great News!
posted by KatlaDragon at 2:55 PM on May 4 [6 favorites]

Nthing Cougar Town—definitely light; not too cringeworthy in my book.
posted by Carouselle at 2:57 PM on May 4 [6 favorites]

I really enjoyed Superstore. There are quite a few characters who are great at their jobs (sometimes surprisingly/unexpectedly so), but have totally human needs, relationships, and flaws.
posted by erst at 2:58 PM on May 4 [14 favorites]

I also love shows that are about women's relationships with other women and feel genuine and authentic.

Personally, I am absolutely heartbroken that there aren't more seasons of Don't Trust the B**** in Apartment 23. Krysten Ritter is a fucking goddess. Its offbeat and weird, a bit of an emotional precursor to Broad City, I think. Which is also right up your alley if you're good with less successful and younger women who are nonetheless amazing, strong, flawed and REAL.
posted by dazedandconfused at 3:02 PM on May 4 [15 favorites]

Yeah, I came to say Great News. I didn’t love it, personally, but it was fun and involved multiple women being good at their jobs.
posted by kevinbelt at 3:02 PM on May 4 [1 favorite]

Glow (on Netflix) is my go-to for this.
posted by travertina at 3:05 PM on May 4 [13 favorites]

New Girl?
posted by biscuits at 3:07 PM on May 4 [5 favorites]

I adore Ghost Whisperer. Jennifer Love Hewitt is serving up the freshest lewks of the mid 00s, season 1 she's got a supportive friendship with Aisha Tyler, later seasons she grows into a friendship with Camryn Manheim, and the relationship she's got with her husband is my favorite in all of media (along with Marge and Norm Gunderson in Fargo). Is the show cheesy? Yes, there's ghosts and stuff. But at its heart it's a show about a nice lady with people in her life who BELIEVE HER and all she wants to do is sell antiques and show empathy to people.
posted by phunniemee at 3:09 PM on May 4 [4 favorites]

If older shows are ok, Designing Women is my go to for this. It's on Hulu. Dixie Carter, Annie Potts, Delta Burke and Jean Smart - such great cast.

Also, if soapy and period are ok, Call the Midwife - on Netflix, midwives problem solving their way through WW2 London.

Also seconding Glow and One Day at a Time.
posted by the primroses were over at 3:09 PM on May 4 [10 favorites]

I've been enjoying Good Girls - everyone's flawed, but most try to be better.
posted by porpoise at 3:24 PM on May 4 [4 favorites]

Seconding new girl. You also may like girls guide to divorce.

More serious but great - Marvelous Mrs Maisel.

Schitt's Creek is not exclusively female led but it's hilarious, feel good tv with heart and some great over the top clothes.
posted by amycup at 3:41 PM on May 4 [2 favorites]

Offspring? “An Australian comedy-drama that follows 30-something obstetrician Nina Proudman as she navigates modern life with a group of fun (but messy) family and friends.” Haven’t watched it myself but it came with a strong recommendation.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 3:41 PM on May 4 [5 favorites]

I’m rewatching Tuca and Bertie right now and think it matches these criteria exactly - funny, well-written, and about women that I love rooting for who are also genuinely flawed in ways I can relate to. The first episode is the weakest IMO.
posted by chaiyai at 3:45 PM on May 4 [12 favorites]

Odd Mom Out, so funny
posted by Mallenroh at 3:48 PM on May 4

Dickinson! It’s heavy at times but also very funny. And very smart.
posted by yarrow at 3:50 PM on May 4 [4 favorites]

Korean drama "Search: WWW" is about 3 women being good at their jobs working for rival web portals. You can stream it legally for free with English subtitles on Rakuten Viki.
posted by boudicca at 3:52 PM on May 4 [2 favorites]

Not sure how popular this would be but I enjoyed American Housewife. I thought it was quite funny and the way the mom really cares about her kids as individuals—e.g., pursues momming with excellence—seems to fit your criteria.
posted by stoneandstar at 3:52 PM on May 4

"...women, being good at their jobs/pursuits, who are also flawed."

This is 100% "The Closer."
posted by Dolley at 4:01 PM on May 4 [7 favorites]

Coming soon to HBO Max: Hacks, starring Jean Smart.

(Since it's "coming soon" I haven't actually seen it, but this trailer is pretty great.)
posted by dnash at 4:12 PM on May 4

Shrill! Aidy Bryant is terrific in it, it’s smart, her character is marvelously flawed and moving/changing, I love every single outfit she wears, there’s some drama but it’s mostly work/family/relationship/identity based. Some episodes are straight up revelatory.
posted by mochapickle at 4:14 PM on May 4 [16 favorites]

Just here to second Dickinson and The Bold Type...

and make a big, big BIG HUGE IMPASSIONED second to Jane the Virgin. Emily Nussbaum at The New Yorker writes better than I ever could on why this show is in my my top three television experiences of all time. But to summarize I will just say that, yes, it is light, and funny, and has romance both silly and deep, but what really and forever sold me was this: the show is about women. Not by chance, not sometimes, and not just when they're being attractive.
posted by minervous at 4:16 PM on May 4 [9 favorites]

I also thought of Call the Midwife — when I need escapism of the “competent women leading their community while men remain mostly a sideshow” variety, that’s where I go. But it is earnest in a way unlike most TV I’ve seen, and for some people I suspect that’s a turnoff.
posted by eirias at 4:21 PM on May 4 [9 favorites]

Ugly Betty?
posted by tipsyBumblebee at 4:44 PM on May 4

Love Life on HBO Max? It's a little soapy but she has friends and a mom and a job she does well at and lots of boyfriends. You may want to stop her and say "what the actual fuck" but she gets out ok in the end.
posted by fiercekitten at 5:21 PM on May 4 [2 favorites]

I adore Insecure - Issa Rae is so good at showing vulnerability, and how young women navigate all relationships. 10/10
posted by dbmcd at 5:22 PM on May 4 [13 favorites]

I enjoyed Ginny and Georgia on Netflix as a guilty pleasure, soapy/light show. I liked seeing the mom character's perspective, as well as the high school girl's perspective. (I feel like part of me never matured out of high school, so I usually enjoy shows that feature that time period.) Georgia does her campaign job well and presents as a confident, take no BS lady on the show.
posted by shortyJBot at 5:42 PM on May 4 [1 favorite]

Gotta agree with mochapickle above: Shrill is great. Here is the JustWatch link if that helps.
posted by splitpeasoup at 5:47 PM on May 4

Halt And Catch Fire season 3 and especially 4
posted by nicwolff at 6:08 PM on May 4 [4 favorites]

There's only a few episodes so far, but you might like "Rebel" with Katey Sagal on some major broadcast network. It's created by the post-Shonda showrunner of "Grey's Anatomy," and co-exec produced by Erin Brockovich as well as "inspired by the life of," so it's a "mess with people who need messing with" type enterprise.
posted by rhizome at 6:46 PM on May 4 [2 favorites]

I was going to come in and say The Bold Type.

You might like Bunheads, another Amy Palladino creation with actresses from Gilmore Girls and Younger starring. I found it delightful!

I really liked Hart of Dixie for light watching. It's not totally woman centric though the star is Rachel Bilson.
posted by fyrebelley at 6:55 PM on May 4 [2 favorites]

Queens Gambit
Ted Lasso
The Crown
posted by St. Peepsburg at 6:59 PM on May 4 [1 favorite]

I've been watching The Good Place and enjoying it. It's from the same person who did Parks and Rec, but it's about moral philosophy and the afterlife.
posted by crossswords at 7:23 PM on May 4 [2 favorites]

Better Things. The first season has some Louis CK stink on it, but that wears off as it goes along.
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 7:47 PM on May 4

I will second it but ...

The Queen's Gambit is great but maybe a bit less light than other shows recommended here & also not too strong on friendships/relationships between women (if that's important). However, it's incredibly satisfying and I loved it and I wanted there to be more! It didn't do the expected things and I liked how Beth was always herself. It's a bit of a fantasy, but it's fun.
posted by edencosmic at 7:52 PM on May 4 [3 favorites]

Mozart in the Jungle has a lot of female lead characters. The relationships between them isn't examined as much as I think that you might like but it's still a bit of fun.

Killing Eve has a really serious tone but it's all about strong women and their relationships. Spies and great acting.

New Girl is absolutely hilarious and you should watch it.

The Good Place is also something that you should watch.

The Marvelous Mrs Maisel has some truly remarkable acting. Comical but serious as well.
posted by ashbury at 7:52 PM on May 4 [1 favorite]

I'm surprised that no one's mentioned Rita yet - don't know if it's stopped streaming on US Netflix, but if you can find it, it's worth a watch. The main character is the poster child for "...women, being good at their jobs/pursuits, who are also flawed", which plays into her relationships with other women in very interesting ways.

Being Erica is also really great. If you like the magical realism element of Jane the Virgin you'll probably enjoy this too. It's not purely fluffy, and there's a lot of flashback elements in a way that might remind you of Firefly Lane (ugh), but that's where the similarities end.

  • Workin' Moms - one of the best sitcoms CBC has done in a long time, great and relatable even for this childfree lady.
  • Bertie and Tuca - much like Bojack Horseman, you'll need to get past the first episode to really get a feel for this one, but this does a good job of capturing the lives of millennial women trying to get their shit together.
  • Insecure - This, along with Bertie and Tuca, pick up where Broad City leaves off.
  • Call the Midwife - all kinds of women being competent and awesome to support other women. It's great.
  • Jane the Virgin - as long as you can get past the premise and telenovela devices, this is pretty much exactly what you're looking for.
  • seasons 2+ of Halt and Catch Fire - you'll have to endure the really uneven first season to get to the good stuff. I mean, there's a reason the critical reviews weren't so great during this show's first run. The relationship between the female leads and their journey as women in the 1980s tech sector starts to take centre stage in season two, and the payoff is worth it.
  • Glow and Dead to Me - why not?

posted by blerghamot at 8:58 PM on May 4 [2 favorites]

Nthing Offspring, Workin Moms, The Bold Type, Glow, Call the Midwife and Dead to Me
posted by kinddieserzeit at 9:24 PM on May 4

Seconding "Call my Agent" on Netflix. About a French film agency, following the often silly, sometimes touching complications of the agents as they try to keep their actors on task. Has a great way of getting you to root for even the flawed characters. And while it's primarily a comedy it deals with difficult topics (like the "me too" situation) deftly and with complexity. Definitely soapy!
posted by Zumbador at 10:03 PM on May 4

A couple recommendations
Fleabag - Women dominate this show - and Fleabag does get her shit together
Pitch Perfect 1 to 3 < movies but super femme and funny
posted by rw at 10:36 PM on May 4 [2 favorites]

If you can find it anywhere, Grace Under Fire is terrific.
posted by essexjan at 2:57 AM on May 5 [1 favorite]

The Mindy Project! It checks all your boxes.
posted by lomes at 7:34 AM on May 5 [1 favorite]

Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce is very similar to Workin' Moms, though not as funny in my opinion. I I would describe both as "Entourage", except with female characters. Both have many seasons.

2nd Great News - it's well done and you can watch it with kids, like an old time sitcom.

Grace and Franke is also good and has lots of seasons.
posted by The_Vegetables at 7:35 AM on May 5 [1 favorite]

I came in here to enthusiastically recommend Drop Dead Diva, so I was glad to see it recommended in the first answer!
posted by urbanlenny at 10:02 AM on May 5 [3 favorites]

This is probably borderline on the "light" part, but Crazy Ex-Girlfriend does not get nearly enough love. Don't let the title or premise (unhappy big shot lawyer moves to suburban SoCal to pursue summer camp ex) dissuade you. The show is very smart, very feminist, and subverts all of the tropes that it invokes. It's also hilarious and has great music, even for people who don't like musicals.

However, it is inescapably a show about mental health. That's often played for laughs, and it does have a happy ending, but it goes to some dark places in its third (out of four) season.
posted by dgr8bob at 11:31 AM on May 5 [2 favorites]

Nthing Grace & Frankie, Mozart in the Jungle, Dead to Me, Fleabag, Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Here to add a BBC police procedural that is more "buddy cop show" than "SVU": Scott & Bailey, featuring Suranne Jones (Gentleman Jack) as a hot mess detective who is good at her job. On the darker side, but from my perspective roughly as light as Fleabag. While I'm at it, I also recommend Gentleman Jack, in which a woman is good at being a ruthless British aristo-capitalist and bad at finding and keeping a wife.
posted by All hands bury the dead at 11:51 AM on May 5

How about Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries?
It’s light and frothy, with a very forward thinking lady detective and super beautiful setting in 1920s Melbourne with amazing costumes and scenery. It’s on the Acorn tv app, and I believe you get a free month’s long trial which is totally worth it IMO.
posted by Champagne Supernova at 2:25 PM on May 5 [4 favorites]

Back to say Shrill on Hulu with the amazing Aidy Bryant. Not frothy, but played very real, yet upbeat, based on the writings of Lindy West.
Very female centric and ultimately empowering show that I highly recommend!
posted by Champagne Supernova at 2:31 PM on May 5

Might not be light enough, but I enjoy "All Rise" about an African American female judge. There are a bunch of women and/or POC in various roles.
posted by kathrynm at 4:13 PM on May 5 [1 favorite]

Seconding Insecure for its strong and human/flawed female characters with real friendships and real work lives. It’s especially great to watch how Issa’s life evolves through the seasons.
posted by marlys at 6:14 PM on May 5 [1 favorite]

If you're open to teenage protagonists, I found Teenage Bountyhunters (Netflix) really delightful.
posted by TwoStride at 9:41 PM on May 5 [1 favorite]

Good Girls Revolt is on the border of lightness & drama, but I have to mention it because it hits many of your other criteria. The subject is women working at Newsweek in the late '60s, when their industry still had "men's jobs" and "women's jobs." But the women's jobs were challenging and interesting -- investigating stories, tracking down leads, getting big scoops -- so it's not Mad Men awfulness, even as there is persistent systemic sexism they organize and fight against. Also an awful lot of steamy foolin'-around in the office!
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 10:00 PM on May 6

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