5 Female-Led TV Dramedies to Lose Yourself in Tonight
They're as enjoyable and escapist as baking your own bread.
As the world’s collective quarantine seems to stretch into the infinite abyss, inherent in this new normal is the fact that most of us now have a lot of spare time on our hands to bake bread, House Party until eternity or finally binge-watch The Sopranos or The Wire. If your daily quota of doomsayer news is such that you can’t bear any more darkness (no matter how transcendent such TV shows may be), get yourself a streamable, bingeable, female-led show that masterfully balances drama and comedy, and that’s as enjoyable as it is escapist. Here are five.
1. Feel Good
Feel Good is a semi-autobiographical Netflix series written and starring 32-year-old Canadian comedian Mae Martin, a name that post-binge, you won’t soon forget. The crux of the show is about Mae’s blossoming romance with “straight” girl George (played by Charlotte Ritchie), struggling to come to terms with their same-sex relationship and inevitably leaving them both to navigate the murky territory within. The show also depicts themes of addiction, gender identity, and family dynamics that are at once painfully honest and laugh-out-loud funny (Lisa Kudrow as Mae’s mother dutifully delivers on both fronts). However, love is what remains at the show’s core, and you’ll find yourself rooting for Mae and George long after the end of its tragically short, six-episode run.
Vida creator Tanya Saracho cited the need for a show that was unapologetically Latin, queer, and female as its raison d’etre, and thank god she saw it through. Chronicling two Mexican-American sisters who return to their late mother’s crumbling dive bar in East LA’s Boyle Heights, the show is about gentrification, race politics, and growing up. Particularly notable is Melissa Berrera’s performance as Lyn, the younger sister who gets pigeonholed as the hot but inept younger sister. She shows a vulnerability that brings dimension to her character, and makes it hard not to fall in love with her (as the world is sure to do – she’s set to star in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s upcoming movie musical). Did I mention the show has some of the hottest sex scenes I’ve seen on TV? If this is what the female gaze looks like, then film and TV (and let’s face it, the world at large) unquestionably need more of it.
3. High Fidelity
If you were skeptical about the TV remake of the 2000 film based on the Nick Hornby novel of the same name, you weren’t alone – but cast your skepticism aside and you're in for a treat. Starring internationally renowned Hot Girl™ Zoe Kravitz in her first title role of note, it’s safe to say Excellent Actor should be included in her list of accomplishments – so much so that there are moments when you feel Kravitz and her character Rob are one and the same. The series recounts record store owner Rob’s mission to understand her most recent failed relationship by reaching out to her five exes, with support from her best friends and coworkers Cherise and Clyde (played charmingly by Da’Vine Joy Randolph and Jake Lacy). With an incredible vintage wardrobe, encyclopedic-level knowledge of music (a quality music lovers will particularly enjoy), and proclivity for self-deprecating humor, it would be easy to hate on Zoe – er, Rob – if she wasn’t the first to admit she’s a fuck-up like the rest of us.
4. Russian Doll
The irony about Russian Doll is that it tells the Groundhog Day-style story of a woman who wakes up on her 36th birthday, only to die and do it all over again – and again and again (a familiar existence in the same Bat-time chronology of our lives in quarantine). Sharp and funny without shying away from the nihilism of our existence (again, seem familiar?) Russian Doll is as inventive as it is unpredictable. Created, written and starring Natasha Lyonne (including Amy Poehler with EP and director credits), Russian Doll boasts an all-female writer room – and a final product you won’t be able to stop watching.
I was apprehensive about including Fleabag in this list because to recommend Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s sensational two-season show is about as obvious as telling someone to binge The Wire or The Sopranos while in quarantine. But believe your best friend, sister, and ex-boyfriend’s girlfriend when they say that Fleabag reinvents the game (PWB’s star power went from six to midnight practically overnight, and rightfully so). Created, written, and starring Waller-Bridge as the show’s eponymous character, she cleverly breaks the third wall, immediately making you feel like her most-trusted confidant, in this series about grief, sex, and sisterhood. There’s humor, heartbreak, guinea pigs, and gin and tonics – exactly the kind of heady mix you didn’t know you needed, but will never want to go back to a world without.
Main photo courtesy of Gaspar Uhas.
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