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9 Best TV Shows with Strong Female Leads You Need to Watch Now

Need inspiration to be a fearless female? These women will galvanize you into action thanks to some of the best TV shows to watch in 2017.

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Big Little Lies

The TV adaptation of Liane Moriarty’s bestselling novel Big Little Lies premiered on HBO in February, featuring producer Reese Witherspoon alongside Nicole Kidman, and Shailene Woodley as three moms who share their perspectives of events before, during, and after a murder in their Monterrey community. As well as getting Kidman and Woodley on board, Witherspoon reached out to Laura Dern and Zoe Kravitz to star in the show. “I was excited to come to women with parts that I’m excited about,” she said at an HBO TCA presentation in January, as reported by IndieWire. “All these talented women playing wives and girlfriends, I just had enough.” Witherspoon described Big Little Lies as being “about women coming together and making something happen very quickly,” while Kidman added that “as much as there is conflict, this piece is about women supporting each other.” Find out which movies are better than the book they’re based on.

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The Handmaid’s Tale

Streaming service Hulu’s adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s 1985 dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale premieres in April 2017, starring Elizabeth Moss in the lead role. As one of the remaining fertile women in the Republic of Gilead, Offred is a handmaid in the commander’s household, forced into sexual servitude as part of a final, desperate effort to repopulate the world. The Handmaid’s Tale examines how women have the power to support one another during times of patriarchal oppression, but also have the ability the hurt each other by giving their support to those oppressive men. Even the women in power, like the commander’s wife Serena Joy (played by Yvonne Strahovski), are little more than servants. Samira Wiley, who plays Offred’s best friend and fellow handmaid Moira, told Cosmopolitan that the women in power have “a false sense of importance because, really, all of the women are prisoners.”

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Lee Daniels’ latest series Star has several female characters at its helm. Jude Demorest plays Star Davis, a young woman who was raised in foster care and embarks upon a journey to find her sister Simone (Brittany O’Grady) and her Instagram BFF Alexandra (Ryan Destiny). The threesome then travel to Atlanta to try to make their mark on the music industry. The Fox show also stars Queen Latifah as Carlotta, the group’s surrogate mother. Of his vision for Star, Daniels told Entertainment Tonight, “I want to just tell the truth and try to affect people. And tell stories about people that are flawed, because we’re all flawed, and that’s what people relate to is the flaws in these characters.” Here are the strongest female literary characters of all time.

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Considered to be one of the best TV shows from award-winning producer and screenwriter Shonda Rhimes, ABC’s political drama Scandal is back for a sixth season, with Kerry Washington as the smart, feisty, sexy crisis manager Olivia Pope. The season five finale gave us Pope at her power-hungry best, proving that although she may have had passionate affairs with powerful men, what she wants influences more than romance. Pope is a strong female leading character, but beyond that, Rhimes has been celebrated for giving us, arguably, the most feminist show on TV. “Scandal is one of the few programs that strives to unveil the ways in which women are undermined in our day-to-day lives with each and every episode,” wrote Lindsay Putnam in the New York Post.

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As Carrie Mathison on Homeland, Claire Danes has been credited with portraying one of the most powerful women on TV. “Carrie’s brilliance is undeniable,” writes Colleen Leahey on “She follows leads with an obsessive compulsion and won’t quit until she’s certain all questions have been answered and all corners have been searched.” Check out these 14 inspiring, female-centric films.

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Powerless, NBC’s new workplace comedy about powerless civilians in a world full of superheroes, stars 28-year-old Vanessa Hudgens, who plays a Wharton graduate on a mission to energize her workmates. In this sitcom—the first comedy to come out of DC Comics—the heroes aren’t the superheroes, but the ordinary people trying to hold onto their jobs, and led by a young woman, no less. If you’re looking for the best binge shows with a more lighthearted angle, Powerless should be on your list.

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The Good Fight

If you loved Christine Baranski’s Diane Lockhart in The Good Wife (hailed by many as one of the all-time best TV shows from CBS) the actress is now leading her own spin off show. The Good Fight premiered on CBS streaming platform All Access in February, and picks up where The Good Wife left off, with Lockhart trying to recover from financial troubles after being forced out of Lockhart & Lee. “The show is called The Good Fight, and it is about the passing of power from one generation to another in terms of female power,” said Baranski at a press conference, as reported by Vulture. “I’m hoping the show has a really powerful message of women continuing to have ‘the good fight.'”

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Shots Fired

Shots Fired, a new drama examining the criminal justice system, premieres on Fox in March. Sanaa Lathan heads up the cast as Ashe Akino, an expert investigator who digs into racially charged shootings in a small town in Tennessee. Akino may not be working alone—she has a special prosecutor partner Preston Terry (played by Stephan James) who was sent to the town by the Department of Justice—but gone are the days when the female character was little more than a loyal sidekick (The X Files‘ Mulder and Scully, for example).

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Z: The Beginning of Everything

Writer F. Scott Fitzgerald may be a familiar name to many, but his wife Zelda Fitzgerald lived very much in his shadow. However, Amazon Prime’s new series aims to change that. Christina Ricci plays Zelda in Z: The Beginning of Everything, based on the novel Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald, by Therese Anne Fowler. The series explores the Fitzgeralds’ tumultuous relationship and shines a light on Zelda’s own literary contributions as a female writer. Allegedly, her husband stole her ideas and plagiarized her diaries for some of his most iconic works, including The Great Gatsby and The Beautiful and the Damned. Over 60 years after her death, Ricci and Amazon Prime are giving Zelda some of the credit she was due.

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