The 17 Best TV Shows For Women Of 2017

Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
As we head into 2018, it’s only fair to look at the year we’re leaving behind. It was 365 days of oftentimes stressful, regressive politics, but that’s not all 2017 was. The year also pushed the culture forward, and a lot of that was thanks to television.
As we saw with the 2017 Emmys, this was the year of the woman on TV. So, it’s only fair to look at the last twelve months of television through the lens of “What really slayed the game for ladies everywhere?” Thankfully, the answer is a lot.
In celebration of women’s dominance in the medium, we chose the 17 best shows for ladies everywhere of 2017. And then, we ranked them. Keep reading to find out which show reigns supreme — is your favorite No. 1?
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17. Riverdale

If you’re surprised to see the story of Archie Andrews (K.J. Apa) kicking off this list, don’t be. While Riverdale is technically about the titular town’s favorite red-haired guitarist-slash-football player, it’s actually so much more than that. Just look at how the CW teen soap handled the tough topic of sexual assault in its second season.

The best parts of the Archie Comics-meets-Pretty Little Liars adaptation are courtesy of its powerful young women, lead among them are Betty Cooper (Lili Reinhart) and Veronica Lodge (Camila Mendes). Rather than having these two fight over Archie’s affections, as is traditional for their comic inspirations, Riverdale made the smart decision to turn Betty and Veronica into fully fleshed-out characters and best friends. Now, they along with the all-Black Pussycats and gothic heroine — or villain, depending on the day — Cheryl Blossom (Madelaine Petsch) are the real reason fans are tuning in every week.
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16. GLOW

The Netflix wrestling drama opens with a critique of the usually-bland acting roles offered to women, and then tries to prove how much richer women’s lives can be than Receptionist 1. Thankfully, GLOW succeeds over its 10-episode first season, exploring extremely complex female friendships, what drives women to their darkest places, and what brings them back from the brink.

For the Alison Brie-led drama, the answer to that latter question isn’t something simple like a baby or a relationship — it’s following your wildest dreams. Even when that means an abortion procedure is necessary.
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15. Big Mouth

One single sentence explains how Netflix puberty cartoon Big Mouth scored a place on this list: “Girls are horny, too.” That may seem obvious to half the population, but, apparently that revelation is so major to the other 50% of the world, it may cause their heads to explode.

Even Judy Blume couldn’t imagine a show, animated or not, that so deeply explores tween girls’ sexual awakening, complete with their very own luxurious hormone monster and talking, friendly vagina. Ladies, it’s time to throw out your deodorant and only take bub-buhl-bafths.
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14. Insecure

Television has long been filled with lovably unlikable white women — hello, Hannah Horvath — but, Black women are rarely given the same allowance. That is, until Issa Dee (Issa Rae), who continued her HBO misadventures in the second season of Insecure this year.

While watching Insecure season 2, everyone at home likely questioned Issa’s more side-eye worthy choices, all the while rooting for her to be best her best self. Personally, I can’t even count how many conversations I had about Issa’s screaming match with Daniel (Y'lan Noel), over a blowjob gone awry (and messy). And, that’s what good art is supposed to do.
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13. Quinceanera

While HBO’s four-part documentary 15: A Quinceanera Story hasn’t premiered yet, just know that when it does, it’ll be a must-watch. The doc looks at the lives of five different young Latinx women and what leads them to the major milestone of a quince, or the meaningful party that celebrates their transition into womanhood. The four installments consider how everything from transgender rights to immigration policy can influence these young women of color in a way that feels more than necessary in 2017.

It's a perspective rarely seen and much-needed. Oh, yeah, and the whole thing is simply really, really sweet.
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12. Black Mirror

This is the only other yet-to-be-released series on this list, and it’s just as deserving as A Quinceanera Story. Season 4 of Black Mirror is already great for women, as it features the highly-publicized fantastic directing styles of icon Jodie Foster. But, know another season 4 episode, Star Trek riff “USS Callister,” just might have you applauding from the couch as well.
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11. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

2017 was a long and difficult year, rife with endless sexual assault scandals and dangerous politics, that could drain any woman. Amazon’s Maisel was the antidote to that societal ill, as a confection of a 1950s-set dramedy from Gilmore Girls creator Amy Sherman-Palladino. Although the eponymous Midge Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan) went through hardships, like multiple arrests and her husband’s abandonment, Marvelous never loses its humor, optimism, or very, very good collection of retro gowns.

Also, ask yourself: has any other show ever captured the impossible work women do to seem effortlessly beautiful?
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10. Bold Type

The Bold Type might seem like a soap in the millennial vein of Sex And The Citywhich, okay, true — but, the Freeform drama is also working at so many more levels than that. Although the season 1 finale aired months ago in September 2017, I still get a little emotional over how deftly the drama handled the long-term effects of sexual assault on even the most powerful, successful women. Although the “Carry The Weight” closer was Bold Type’s most effecting nod towards real-life issues, the season also dealt with breast health, orgasm equality, and interracial, interfaith lesbian relationships, among about a dozen other rarely-spoken-about, important topics.

Thank the TV gods seasons 2 and 3 have already been confirmed.
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9. Better Things

The great strength of Better Things is how it unflinching realistic it is about mother-daughter relationships. Star Mikey Madison, who plays eldest Fox daughter Max, put it best during an interview, explaining, “Max needs her mom but also resents [that] because she does need her … Max is possessive and rejecting all at once.” That description applies to how all of the Fox women feel about each other, whether we’re talking about Max’s two sisters opinions of their mom Sam (creator-director-star Pamela Adlon), or Sam and her own mother, Phyllis (Celia Imrie).

And, above all else, season 2 finale “Graduation” had a final dance sequence that made me uncontrollably cry on a bus speeding through Delaware, so you know it’s good.
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8. Dear White People

Netflix’s Dear White People is a great show thanks to its nuanced look at living with Black skin in a very white world. But, Netflix’s Dear White People is a great show for women thanks to its nuanced look at two amazing supporting characters: Colandrea “Coco” Conners (Antoinette Robertson) and Joelle Brooks (Ashley Blaine Featherson).

Coco for president! Give Joelle her own season 2 episode! I have demands and they’re all about giving these two fantastic, layered young women of color the lives they deserve.
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7. The Sinner

USA’s The Sinner was the greatest mystery of the summer, as we all questioned why Cora Tannetti (Jessica Biel) murdered a man she had supposedly never seen before in cold blood during a very public, and sunny, beach day with her family. The answer gave us more psychosexual horror than anyone could have expected, but it also explored sex, sisterly relationships, and grief with an almost impossibly exacting eye.

Sinner was so pointed, certain sounds from the series still rattle around in my head, chilling me to my core, months after the September 2017 finale first aired.
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6. The Deuce

The Deuce may be billed as the James Fanco porn drama where he plays twins, yet, the true powerhouses of the wonderful 1970s drama are the ladies. It's time to bow down to women like entrepreneurial sex worker-turned-porn director Candy (Maggie Gyllenhaal) or the enterprising Lori (Emily Meade). And, we can all agree the real queen here is the wonderful Darlene (Dominique Fishback).

Unlike many shows about sex work, The Deuce managed to perfectly juggle the ecstasies and the agonies of the industry.
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5. Game Of Thrones

Think back to the very beginning of the HBO epic, when everything in Westeros revolved around five not-great options for kings, including a sadist, a child murderer, and someone too good, too idealistic for any world (R.I.P my boyfriend, Robb Stark). Now, all of those varyingly terrible men are dead, and Thrones has finally handed the reigns over to the queens of Westeros. While it’s possible no woman is especially great for the Seven Kingdoms, it sure is fun to see these literal queens maneuver for the power they so desire.

Even Arya’s (Maise Williams) direwolf Nymeria, herself named after a Dornish warrior queen, is out here leading packs and running the Riverlands.
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4. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is a difficult show for me to watch, as it can be at times so awkward and unapologetically real, it makes me physically uncomfortable. In fact, there are two season 1 episodes I’ve have to fully skip due to second-hand embarrassment. Yet, no one should skip a single episode of Girlfriend season 3, which shows Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom) hit actual rock bottom with fearless honesty. Rebecca’s suicide attempt has stuck with me for weeks, as has CEG’s ability to humanize and rehabilitate even it’s most supposedly unlikeable characters, like the WASP-y Nathan Plimpton III (Scott Michael Foster) and former romantic adversary Valencia Perez (Gabrielle Ruiz).

Somehow, while the CW dramedy juggles delicate treatises on mental health and getting you to cry with a former villain, it’s also producing perfect musical numbers like the impossibly catchy “The First Penis I Saw.”
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If there’s one new fall 2017 show you’re going to watch, let it be Showtime’s SMILF, created, written, and starring Frankie Shaw. We follow Bridgette Bird (Shaw) through her own misadventures, which sometimes veer into fantasy. In just a few episodes, we were given the ridiculous, perfect treat of seeing Bridge sitting atop of throne, flanked by two buff, full-frontally naked men with fans, staring down two lines of people who are waiting to “worship her pussy.”

It’s wonderful and wild and only a drop in the bucket of Bridgette’s multi-faceted sexual appetites, which in themselves feel like a miracle as SMILF allows its leading lady to love sex, even as a serial sexual assault survivor. Sadly, television rarely allows women to be so layered.
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2. Big Little Lies

No, I don’t want a Big Little Lies season 2 in the traditional sense of the phrase “season 2,” and that’s because season 1 was so very, very magnificent. The HBO drama accomplished the near-impossible task of satisfying its very soapy tendencies while also tackling extremely serious topics like domestic abuse and murder. All the while, Lies drove home the importance of female voices with its dominant, almost all-woman cast and producers like Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon.

To quote Witherspoon’s Madeline Martha Mackenzie, I tend to my love of Big Little Lies season 1 like a little pet.
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1. Handmaid’s Tale

No show captured the zeitgeist, or women’s current fears, better than Hulu’s Emmy-winning Handmaid’s Tale, which is stacked with killer performances by women. The dystopian drama is so good, it even brought Rory Gilmore, I mean Alexis Bledel, a much-deserved Emmy for her incomparable eye acting. As politics have yet to improve while we head into 2018, the feminist Margaret Atwood adaptation continues to be the most essential drama in a packed television landscape.
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