The 21 best feminist TV shows to watch out for in 2017

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Kayleigh Dray
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2017 is going to be a corker for feminist telly fans.

Not only have we got the returns of Homeland, Orange is the New Black, and Girls to look forward to, but there’s also plenty of brand new dramas, comedies, and sci-fi adventures with strong, complex female leads too. Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon are teaming up for Big Little Lies, Britt Robertson is bringing the iconic Girlboss to life, and Julia Stiles is starring in this year’s answer to The Night Manager.

Elsewhere the BBC are bringing us The Replacement (aka the first ever maternity leave thriller), and let’s not forget that star-studded adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale we’ve all been waiting for, either.

Here’s our pick of the powerful and gripping TV shows you absolutely can’t afford to miss out on in 2017…

Orange is the New Black, Season 5

Starring: Taylor Schilling, Dascha Polanco, Laura Gómez, Diane Guerrero, Danielle Brooks, Jackie Cruz, Yael Stone, Abigail Savage, Jessica Pimentel, Kimiki Glenn

Often cited as being the best and most feminist TV show of all time, Orange is the New Black is returning for a fifth outing this year. We don’t want to reveal too much about the plot, in case you haven’t caught up with season four, but it’s safe to say that Piper (Schilling) and co are still reeling from the shocking events of the last series. In fact, events will take place in real-time and over the course of just three days, as the repercussions of last season’s riot play out.

How will it affect their lives – and their relationships – behind bars? And did Daya shoot the guard?

Where you can watch it: Netflix

When it starts: Friday 9 June

The Replacement

Starring: Morven Christie, Vicky McClure, and more

Ellen (Christie) is an ambitious and successful architect – but, as she begins working on an important new project, she discovers she is pregnant. Her company are thrilled for her, and organise a champagne-fuelled celebration, before hiring someone to fill in the short maternity leave that Ellen is planning on taking. Two months at the most, she says.

Thank goodness, then, that her replacement Paula (McClure) is so competent. She’s been out of work for almost a decade after having a child of her own, and keen to get her foot back on the career ladder. Plus, as well as being clever and great at her job, she’s also funny and incredibly likeable; no wonder she proves such an instant hit with her co-workers.

But, as Paula begins cutting Ellen out of conversations with their boss, taking over her projects, and ingratiating herself with the mum-to-be’s clients, Ellen becomes paranoid. Is she, as those around her suggest, simply feeling threatened by her competent understudy? Or does Paula have deadly, more permanent designs on her job?

Where to watch it: BBC One

When to watch it: The three-part thriller runs from 28 February to 4 March (9pm – 10pm)

Z: The Beginning of Everything

Starring: Christina Ricci, Maya Kazan, Holly Curran, Gavin Stenhouse

We’re already obsessed with this sumptuous period drama, which promises to show us an entirely new side to jazz icon Zelda Fitzgerald (Ricci). Set in the 1920s, Z starts before long before the spirited and rebellious poet meets unpublished writer, F. Scott Fitzgerald (Stehouse), and moves through their love affair and their tumultuous marriage.

Speaking about the role, Ricci said: “I realised that so much of what I thought about Zelda was incorrect and actually incredibly defamatory.

“And then to discover that no one’s ever done anything that was really about her seemed so strange because, as an actress, you’re constantly searching for great parts.”

Zelda has long been overshadowed by her husband. Now, at last, this series is set to remind viewers that she was well and truly her own person.

Where you can watch it: Amazon Prime

When it starts: 27 January

Homeland, Season 6

Starring: Claire Danes, Mandy Patinkin, Elizabeth Marvel, Rupert Friend, F Murray Abraham

The newest season of Homeland follows Carrie (Danes) and Saul (Patinkin) as they relocate to New York – and it seems as if their lives will quickly become interwoven with that of President-elect Elizabeth Keane (Marvel) as she prepares for her inauguration.

Where you can watch it: Channel 4

When it starts: 23 January


Starring: Vanessa Hudgens, Christina Kirk, Alan Tudyk, Danny Purdi

The problem with superheroes is simple – they create a lot of collateral damage. Enter Emily Locke (Hudgens), the new Director of Research & Development for Wayne Security, company that specialises in products that make defenceless bystanders feel a little safer. Full of confidence and big ideas, Emily quickly learns that her expectations far exceed those of her new boss (Tudyk) and officemates, so it will be up to her to lead the team toward their full potential and the realization that you don’t need superpowers to be a hero

Where you can watch it: NBC, although no UK broadcaster has been confirmed as yet.

When it starts: 2 February.

Santa Clarita Diet

Starring: Drew Barrymore, Liv Hewson, Timothy Olyphant, Skyler Gisondo

Joel (Olyphant) and Sheila (Barrymore) are husband and wife realtors leading vaguely discontented lives in the L.A. suburb of Santa Clarita. But, when Sheila goes through a very, very dramatic change, it quickly sends her life down a road of death and destruction. In a good way. Sort of. 

Yup, you guessed it; she’s a zombie. But it’s made her heaps more confident – and it’s given her and her husband’s marriage a new lease of (pardon the expression) life. Can they keep her transformation a secret from the rest of their small-knit community? And, more importantly, can they work together to ensure she has a steady diet of tasty human flesh – without killing anyone that, y’know, they like?

Where you can watch it: Netflix

When it starts: 3 February

Big Little Lies

Starring: Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, Laura Dern, Reese Witherspoon

Based on Liane Moriarty’s novel of the same name, this seven-episode series weaves a complex tale about three mothers. Jane (Woodley), a single mother who recently moved to town, meets Madeline (Witherspoon) and Celeste (Kidman).. The pair take the younger women under their wing and into the gossip machine of Monterey’s wealthy seaside community. Expect betrayal, sex, and toxicity – and, yes, it does spiral out of control for a very frightening finale.

Where you can watch it: Sky Atlantic

When it starts: 13 March

The Good Fight

Starring: Christine Baranski, Cush Jumbo, Rose Leslie

This spin-off from The Good Wife puts Diane Lockhart (Baranski) well and truly in the driving seat, as she attempts to deal with all the trials and tribulations that come with working at legal firm Stern, Lockhart, and Gardener.

Where you can watch it: CBS

When it starts: 19 February

Broadchurch, Season 3

Starring: Olivia Colman, David Tennant, Carolyn Pickles, Jodie Whittaker, Sarah Parrish, Julie Hesmondalgh

Little is known about Broadchurch’s swansong, although it has been confirmed that it will once again follow detectives Miller (Colman) and Hardy (Tennant) as they reunite to work on a sexual assault case.

Executive producer Jane Featherstone, of Sister Pictures, says: “We start the final series in the trilogy three years on from the last series, five years on from the start. There is a bold new crime story which forces us to ask whether the town has a crack running through it caused by Danny Latimer’s death; is this new crime somehow the long-term legacy of that dark moment? Our central characters must contend with this possibility as they battle to make hope, friendship and love triumph over fear and suspicion, as a host of new suspects present themselves.

“The great privilege of long-form storytelling is building a meaningful relationship between our characters and the audience and I am excited for the audience to see how Ellie, Hardy and the Latimers have fared in the last few years. It is a fond farewell for those of us involved in the series for so many years, but as far as I am concerned, the community of Broadchurch will carry on living long after we’ve gone.”

Where you can watch it: ITV1

When it starts: 27 February, 9pm

Girls, Season 6

Starring: Lena Dunham, Allison Williams, Jemima Kirke, Zosia Mamet, Adam Driver 

The last time we saw the Girls, they were still reeling from the news that Jessa (Jemima Kirke) had decided to get romantically involved with Hannah’s ex Adam (Adam Driver). And, in their final outing, it’s clear that tensions are still running high. Will they be able to put things right in their troubled lives?

Where you can watch it: Sky Atlantic

When it starts: 13 February

Girl Boss

Starring: Britt Robertson, Ellie Reed, Alphonso McAuley, Johnny Simmons

Based on bestselling book Girlboss, penned by Nasty Gal founder Sophia Amoruso, this story follows anarchist misfit Sophia (Robertson) as she discovers a passion for fashion – and becomes an unlikely businesswoman in the process. As her business grows, however, she has to learn to cope with life as her own boss.

Where you can watch it: Netflix

When it’s on: TBC


Starring: Jessica Findlay Brown, Samantha Morton, Lesley Manville

Harlots, set in 18th century London, sees Findlay take on the role of the city’s most coveted courtesan, Charlotte Wells. While she boasts an impressive clientele list, the Georgian sex worker soon finds herself caught up in a bitter feud between two brothel owners; newcomer Lydia Quigley (Lesley Manville) and Charlotte’s own mother, Margaret (Samantha Morton). The show, which has been written and directed by an all-female crew, has vowed to angle this period drama from an entirely female gaze. Executive producer and co-creator Alison Owen explains: “In 1760s London there were brothels on every corner run by women who were both enterprising and tenacious. History has largely ignored them, but their stories are in turn outrageous, brutal, humorous and real.”

Where you can watch it: Hulu / ITV Encore

When you can watch it: March 2017

The Handmaid’s Tale

Starring: Elisabeth Moss, Samira Wiley, Alexis Bledel, Yvonne Strahovski, Ann Dowd, Ralph Fiennes

Margaret Atwood’s 1985 feminist dystopian novel has been adapted into a ten-episode series for Hulu – and, while there are no trailers yet, fans are already excited. The story follows Offred (Moss), a young woman who has been trapped into the role of a ‘Handmaid’ – or surrogate – for the Commander (Fiennes) and his wife, Serena Joy (Strahovski). Her role is simple; to submit to Gilead’s misogynist regime, to remain as anonymous as possible, and to produce a healthy, living baby. If she fails, she will be sent to the colonies… and, as such, certain death. It’s a stark wake-up call to the grim nature of women’s rights – and a frightening reminder that, in the wake of Trump’s election, a real-life Gilead has never been closer. 

Where you can watch it: Hulu

When it starts: 26 April

In the Dark

Starring: MyAnna Buring, Emma Fryer, Georgia Moffett, Sinead Matthews, Jessica Gunning, Ben Batt

The “darkly funny” series, adapted from books by bestselling crime novelist Mark Billingham, sees detective Helen Weeks (Buring) discover that she is pregnant. But, before she has time to find out whether the child is her partner Paul's or the result of an affair, an old school friend calls begging for help; her husband has been arrested for the abduction of two young girls and, in a world of 24-hour news and trial by media, the local cops are under enormous pressure to get their man. But is he the right man? Helen must solve the case by confronting both her present and her past - digging deep into the secrets of her childhood, just as she's contemplating bringing a new life into the world.

Where you can watch it: BBC One

When it starts: TBC

Star Trek: Discovery

Starring: Sonequa Martin-Green, Michelle Yeoh, Mary Chieffo, Anthony Rapp, Doug Jones, Chris Obi, Shazad Latif

Discovery, a thirteen-part prequel set roughly a decade before the original Star Trek series, follows Rainsford (Martin-Green), the badass lieutenant commander of the USS Discovery. Once again, the voyage promises to be one of discovery, seeking out new life and new civilisations – but, unlike the original series, Discovery will not give us the captain’s point of view. Instead, we will experience this journey through space from Rainsford’s perspective, as she navigates her role upon the starship, her dynamic relationships with her crew, and her approach to all things alien.

Where you can watch it: Netflix

When it starts: May - the exact date has yet to be confirmed.

Game of Thrones, Season 7

Starring: Emilia Clarke, Lena Headey, Maisie Williams, Sophie Turner, Peter Dinklage, Kit Harrington, Isaac Hempstead Wright

Daenerys Targaryen (Clarke) has finally sailed to Westeros, where she intends to take back the Iron Throne – but, with power-hungry Cersei (Headey) ruling King’s Landing, it seems as if a battle may be in order. Meanwhile it seems as if Sansa Stark (Turner) may be set to turn on her half-brother Jon Snow (Harrington), but, with sister Arya (Williams) and brother Bran (Wright) finally on their way home, the family’s reunion must be imminent. One thing’s for sure, the Wall surely can’t hold back those terrifying White Walkers for long…

Where you can watch it: Sky Atlantic

When it starts: Sometime this summer - the exact date has yet to be confirmed


Starring: Julia Stiles, Lena Olin, Iwan Rheon, Amr Waked 

Tipped to be this year’s answer to The Night Manager, this 10-part series is all about Georgina (Stiles), a Midwesterner and former fine-art scholar turned resourceful wife of billionaire Constantine Clios. After a year of marriage, her life is blown apart when Constantine is killed in an explosion aboard the yacht of a Russian oligarch and arms dealer – but, desperate to uncover the truth about his death, Georgina launches an investigation. The dark truths she uncovers send her spiralling into a criminal underworld of lies, double-dealings, and danger. Will she be able to protect her family and its fortune?

Where you can watch it: Sky Atlantic

When it starts: Sometime this summer – the exact date has yet to be confirmed

13 Reasons Why

Starring: Katherine Langford, Kate Walsh, Dylan Minnette, Alisha Boe, Michele Selene Ang

Based on the 2007 novel of the same name from author Jay Asher, 13 Reasons Why sees teenage schoolboy Clay (Minnette) find a mysterious box on his porch. Inside he discovers a group of cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker (Langford) - his classmate and crush- who tragically committed suicide just just two weeks earlier. On the tapes, which are mailed with instructions to pass along from one student to another, Hannah explains to twelve peers how they each played a role in her death, by giving thirteen reasons explaining why she took her life. It’s her story, in her own words – and it’s every bit as emotional, thought-provoking, and powerful as you’d expect.

Where you can watch it: Netflix

When it starts: TBC


Starring: Kelly Reilly, David Morrissey, Zoë Wanamaker, Stanley Weber, Eleanor Worthington Cox 

Set in 43AD, when Britannia was ruled by powerful druids and warrior queens, Celtic princess Kerra (Reilly) is reluctant to rise to follow in her father’s footsteps and take the throne. But, when General Plautius leads the Romans in an invasion on her country, she is forced to join forces with her arch-rival Queen Antedia (Zoe Wanamaker) and face their invaders. 

Where you can watch it: Sky Atlantic, Amazon US

When it starts: Sometime this autumn – the exact date has yet to be confirmed

Tin Star

Starring: Christina Hendricks, Tim Roth

Set in the Canadian Rockies, this bloody revenge thriller sees an expat British police office (Roth) as he takes a stand against an oil company fronted by the mysterious Mrs Bradshaw (Hendricks). Expect violence from both sides…

Where you can watch it: Sky Atlantic

When it starts: Sometime this autumn - the exact date has yet to be confirmed

Stranger Things, Season 2

Starring: Winona Ryder, Millie Bobby Brown, Finn Wolfhard, David Harbour

Stranger Things was, without a doubt, the best TV show of 2016, so there’s huge anticipation for the second series of the 80s sci-fi horror. Little is known about it, although writers have reassured fans that we will be sticking primarily with the core group of characters, their fascination with the Upside Down, and how they’ve changed from the experience of last season. Maybe ‘normal’ is never possible again.” And, don’t worry, there will, once again, be a bevy of strong female characters who refuse to conform to the norm; Eleven is even rumoured to be back in the seventh episode, with fans speculating that she is hiding out in ‘The Secret Cabin’ following a fight with the Demigorgon.

Where you can watch it: Netflix

When it starts: Sometime this autumn – the exact date has yet to be confirmed