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Big Little Lies to GLOW: Five shows that understood female relationships well

Netflix, Hulu, HBO are all giving us great shows based on women and their relationships. Check out the five best of them.

tv Updated: Jul 29, 2017 16:21 IST
HT Correspondent
A still from The Handmaid’s Tale.
A still from The Handmaid’s Tale.

2017 started with the power of the collective, with the Women’s March to the rise of female mentorship programs. Cinema should follow pursuit to reflect the cultural changes. Yet television still portrays women by and large as consumed with dating, looking good or bringing down the frenemy.

However, this doesn’t take away from the shows that did work towards the goal. These shows gave an honest portrayal of more nuanced female relationships and changed that stereotype by curating the content we crave, and the stories content that we can connect with.

Netflix, Hulu and HBO have given us a few women-centric shows recently that were both critically and commercially applauded. “We think it’s critically important that women are depicted and celebrated in every single way and in every dimension. We want to reflect the entirety of human experience across our programming, and strong female characters and strong, real, supportive relationships play a large role within that,” says Cindy Holland, vice president for original content at Netflix.

Breaking the traditional mould that women centric roles don’t do well, here’re five shows from 2017 that set new precedents on how to treat female relationships on screen.

1. Orange Is The New Black

As well as giving us fearless, complicated and flawed characters like Piper, Poussey and Sophia, the show unlocked another truth: the fact that women want to see real and relatable groups of women supporting each other on screen.

Groups of women who, despite their differences, show that power and influence can be achieved through coming together and having each other’s backs.

In the four years since Orange is the New Black first aired, the women of Litchfield Penitentiary have learned through trial and error that they’re better working together, even when it concerns starting a riot in a prison.

2. The Handmaid’s Tale

Hulu’s brilliant show on Margaret Atwood’s harrowing ‘speculative fiction’ novel is one of the most disturbing series to come out this year. It tells the tale of women trapped in a dystopian world where there bodies are no more than farms to grow babies in. They have lost the right to their bodies, their lives and their freedom. But even through all the trauma and the pain, they fight together, against each other and for each other.

3. GLOW

GLOW pulses with all sorts of potential talking points about gender, friendships between women and public perception of stereotypes. It addresses these issues at a brisk pace and with a more comedic tone. Ruth and Debbies’ fight at the start of GLOW plays on the tried and tested stereotypes, but we soon discover a deeper, more meaningful connection between the two women as the begin to explore their capabilities and personas beyond their relationships with men.

4. Big Little Lies

HBO’s thrilling drama with the stellar star cast of Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, Laura Dern and Zoe Kravitz still somehow managed to exceed expectation. The complex, extremely well fleshed female characters, their stories and the way they come together at the end, creating a family of women that shelters a secret in its heart, all make the show a treat to watch.

5. Girls

With its final season Girls, wraps up the complicated lives of Hannah, Shoshanna, Marnie and Jessa. The girls were fan favourites at times and , fan-hated at times. The complicated characters, Hannah being the biggest of them, are one of the most difficult to decode on TV.

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