Ladies and gents, it’s time to tune into some very different way of storytelling. Here are 8 Netflix shows with strong female leads.
Whether it’s some good old-fashioned ass-kicking or the celebration of sisterhood – Netflix shows with strong female protagonists are a class apart. At once relatable and inspiring, we’ve curated a set of titles that offer entertainment with a heavy dose of empowerment.
From the dutiful and demure damsel-in-distress of the 80s to the independent and opinionated girl boss of today – female leads have undergone a massive evolution over the past few decades. Today, they’re more than just agents of fate – driving change, displaying emotional depth, busting gender biases, and adding complexity to the plot. Not to mention, they also touch upon the everyday challenges that individuals who identify as women face.
Many shows that spotlight these characters ace the Bechdel test – which measures the representation of women in fiction by underlining conversations that don’t include a man. Best part? They span a range of genres, from comedy to thriller. And if you’ve got binge-watching on your mind, we’ve curated a set of series that come with well-written with women as strong leads.
8 Netflix shows that come with strong female protagonists
A lighthearted series underlined with humour and relatability – Derry Girls explores the ethno-nationalist conflict called The Troubles in Northern Ireland. It follows the lives of teenage girls – Erin, Orla, Clare, and Michelle – who navigate classic coming-of–age themes like sex, overbearing parenting, fashion, relationships, and more.
The show subverts stereotypes by presenting Irish women of the era as layered, assertive, funny, intelligent individuals – whether young or old – as opposed to widowed damsels-in-distress. And the show is hailed for exactly this quality. In fact, women are front and centre of the plotline, driving change while keeping things entertaining. Featuring strong female protagonists who make up an all-women comedy ensemble like no other, this Netflix show is a must-watch.
IMDB rating: 8.4
Jane the Virgin
While we’re on the subject of comedies, we’d be remiss not to mention this drama that tells the tale of a young, devout Catholic woman who discovers she’d been accidentally artificially inseminated during a routine check-up. A waitress at a hotel in Miami, she grapples with the news while juggling her life with her matriarch grandmother and single mother.
As her journey progresses, the show touches upon themes of bodily autonomy, workplace dynamics, female friendships, and general struggles of those who identify with the gender. And it does so with great sensitivity. Combine that with rib-tickling humour and the most bizarre set of plot-twists and you’ve got yourself a binge-worthy show.
IMDB rating: 7.9
Adding a classic touch to this roundup, Gilmore Girls follows the life of a young single mother Lorelai and her teenage daughter Rory in the small town of Stars Hollow, Connecticut. An iconic dramedy, the show is underlined with eccentric characters and witty humour. Rory hangs posters of Planned Parenthood in her dorm room at Yale and reads feminist titles like Bitch:In Praise of Difficult Women by Elizabeth Wurtzel.
Lorelai meanwhile, asserts her opinion and consistently defies the ‘housewife’ standard forced on women during her time. The show, meanwhile, champions female role models, explores female friendships, and touches upon their struggles. In fact, the female characters are as opinionated as they come and offer invaluable advice on love, relationships, career, growing up, and more through the course of the seasons. This one’s a great comfort-watch as well.
IMDB rating: 8.2
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
If you’ve got a hankering for some supernatural bingeing, this title is the one to turn to. Based on the eponymous Archie comic series – it follows the life of Sabrina Spellman – a half-witch – who needs to find her balance between two worlds – earth and hell, while battling forces determined to harm humans. Right at the outset, the show identifies as feminist – Sabrina as a protagonist is brave, independent, and witty, while retaining a certain sensitivity that’s often perceived as weakness in women.
And she’s backed by eccentric and strong aunts. The storyline touches upon themes of gender and sexuality, while iterating the need for women to reclaim their destinies and follow their passions. Not to mention, there’s plenty of hair-raising thriller sequences that will keep you on the edge of your seats.
IMDB rating: 7.4
Based on real-life instances, The Crown focuses on Queen Elizabeth II as she takes over the reigns of the world’s most popular, thriving monarchy. As she grapples with political decline, internal powerplay, and complicated family dynamics – the show explores the difficulty women in positions of power often face. Although not wholly a feminist show, The Crown’s lead is a force to be reckoned with – whether it’s about her choice of a husband or hiring a tutor to further her education.
She also reflects on the double-standards women have to face in the society – for instance, with the law that prohibited them from marrying divorced men. Additionally her sister Margaret also consistently shuns the norms of the society. Rarely do historical fictions solely focus on a woman lead and The Crown does this with ease. That, along with stellar writing, make this a must-watch.
IMDB rating: 8.7
Strong Girl Do Bong-Soon
Adding a K-drama twist to this list, this show looks at Do Bong-Soon – a seemingly ordinary girl with the extraordinary gift of superhuman strength. Hired to protect a gaming company CEO – she wishes to star in her own video game.The lead is morally upright, opinionated, and free-spirited, with dreams and ambitions.
These elevate her superpower trait and make her a layered character. The show subtly touches upon the gender roles women are expected to occupy in society and other aspects of patriarchy – as the lead chases an abductor on the loose. If there’s one Netflix show to make you feel empowered, it’s this one. Besides, there’s plenty of laughter interwoven as well.
The Queen’s Gambit
This drama follows an orphan who goes from a shy, introverted teenager to a chess prodigy with a substance problem. The show calls out the standard set for women in society, with the lead challenging constructs through her demeanour, outfits, and everyday choices. She’s bold, stubborn, and independent – often viewed as masculine traits. Not to mention, chess is seen as a man’s game. In line with this, the dialogues hit home. Take for instance the moment she’s asked – post a big win – “What does it feel like to be a girl among all those men?”
This Netflix show is highly celebrated for its portrayal of feminism through the female protagonist – strong and unapologetic.
A thriller that’s taken India by storm, Delhi Crime grapples with the system of justice in India. At the helm of affairs in this Netflix show is DCP Vartika Chaturvedi – a strong female protagonist who takes charge of a gruesome, hair-raising case of a gang rape in Delhi. Right alongside her is a young cop Neeti Singh, who’s just stepped into the force. Chaturvedi is opinionated, intelligent, and assertive. However, she also retains sensitivity – seen as a weakness in patriarchal cultures. She also routinely touches upon the struggles of women while helping her teenage daughter cope with the same. That, along with action-packed sequences make this one a must-watch.
All images: Courtesy Netflix