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Welcome to the quintessential streaming guide for Netflix-subscribed ladies!
No, this isn’t a list of movies and TV shows and sold at a higher price point, symbolizing a global prejudice that’s oppressed half of the human population for centuries. Don’t be silly! This is a list comprised solely of the essential building blocks for a fun, feminist binge as empowering as it is entertaining.
We’ve combed through Netflix’s catalogue of comedies, dramas, cartoons, documentaries, and more to find the best titles celebrating women, women’s issues, women’s right to equality, and all the other fun things that come with being a lady.
Listed in no particular order, here are 15 essential feminist titles now streaming on Netflix.
Note: So many funny women have done Netflix stand-up specials that speak volumes to the (sometimes hilarious) realities of being a lady. To be certain we don’t end up with a list dominated by Hannah Gadsby, Katherine Ryan, and badass ladies like them, comedy hours have been excluded from this list. (But we do have a list of the best stand-up specials here.)
1. Grace & Frankie
What it is: A sitcom starring comedy legends and pop culture icons Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin.
Why it’s important: One of the most beloved series on the service, Netflix’s Grace & Frankie is unmatched in its contribution to onscreen representation of women over the age of 70. Funny and fearless, Grace & Frankie not only gifted audiences the return of Tomlin and Fonda to the small screen, but also helped raise the actors’ platforms for positive change. , anyone?
Where to watch: Grace and Frankie is now streaming on Netflix.
What it is: A dramatic limited series about a 2009 rape investigation, based on a true story.
Why it’s important: Toni Collette, Merritt Wever, and Kaitlyn Dever bring factual reporting (published jointly under ProPublica and The Marshall Project in 2015) to Netflix in an impactful dramatization that highlights the all-too-fortified barriers keeping women from the justice — and the justice system — they deserve.
Where to watch: Unbelievable is now streaming on Netflix.
3. Period. End of Sentence.
What it is: An Academy Award-winning short documentary film about a feminist revolution in India.
Why it’s important: With a runtime of just 25 minutes, director Rayka Zehtabchi makes a hugely compelling case against the global stigma around menstruation. Zehtabchi follows a group of entrepreneurs in Hapur, India as they work to make low-cost sanitary products and empower a community of women.
4. Homecoming: A Film By Beyoncé
What it is: A concert documentary capturing Beyoncé’s performance at Coachella in 2018.
Why it’s important: There’s being amazed by what it takes to be a pop star, and there’s being amazed by what it takes to be Beyoncé. Homecoming, directed, produced, and written by the queen herself, captures just a small sliver of what the performer means to so many Black women but does so exquisitely. It’s powerful, it’s essential, it’s…Beyoncé. Hit play.
Where to watch: Homecoming: A Film By Beyoncé is now streaming on Netflix.
5. A Secret Love
What it is: A documentary film chronicling the lifelong relationship of two lesbian women.
Why it’s important: Director Chris Bolan looks back on the romance of Terry Donahue and Pat Henschel, two lesbian women who kept their partnership hidden from friends, family, and colleagues for decades. An excellent opportunity for an ugly cry, A Secret Love exhibits compassion, warmth, and outrage fitting of its breathtaking subject matter.
Where to watch: A Secret Love is now streaming on Netflix.
6. Orange Is the New Black
What it is: A groundbreaking dramedy series centered on female inmates at a fictitious prison.
Why it’s important: Jenji Kohan’s revolutionary Orange Is the New Black did so much during its run, it’s hard to choose which aspects to celebrate here. Is it the diversity on screen and behind the camera? Is is the sizzling send-up of the prison industrial complex? Is it the daring representation of women’s issues ranging from sexual assault and bodily autonomy to patriarchal social divisions designed to keep women at odds? We don’t know! Watch it anyway!
Where to watch: Orange Is the New Black is now streaming on Netflix.
What it is: A documentary film about former First Lady Michelle Obama.
Why it’s important: God bless Michelle Obama. In Becoming, director Nadia Hallgren follows Obama across a 34-city book tour for the former First Lady’s memoir of the same name. The result is an inspiring look at not only Obama’s life, but the countless young Black lives she has changed with her accomplishments. It’s also stylish, heartwarming, and very, very fun.
Where to watch: Becoming is now streaming on Netflix.
What it is: A fearless dramedy series reimagining the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling.
Why it’s important: “It’s the Gooooorgeous Ladies of Wrestling.” The fate of everyone’s favorite show about women finding empowerment through professional wrestling may hang in the balance right now — in case you hadn’t heard, Netflix pulled the plug on Season 4 thanks to COVID-19. But that’s all the more reason to start a GLOW rewatch, rich with authentic portrayals of female friendship, keen observations on 1980s feminism, and Betty freakin’ Gilpin.
Where to watch: GLOW is now streaming on Netflix.
9. She’s Gotta Have It
What it is: A dramedy series from Spike Lee about an ambitious New York City artist.
Why it’s important: Based on Lee’s 1986 movie of the same name, She’s Gotta Have It lives up to its ferocious title. DeWanda Wise stars as Nola Darling, a Black queer woman living her life with effervescence and tenacity. It’s not perfect, but it is very fun — and contributes substantively and positively to the onscreen representation of women in non-monogamous relationships.
Where to watch: She’s Gotta Have It is now streaming on Netflix.
10. Cable Girls
What it is: A 1920s-set Spanish language drama series from Ramón Campos and Gema R. Neira.
Why it’s important: Four female friends gain independence by working for a telephone company in this ludicrously underrated period drama from Netflix. Cable Girls is both deeply engrossing and an incredible portrait of a time that would change the world’s understanding of gender equality forever.
Where to watch: Cable Girls is now streaming on Netflix.
11. Tuca & Bertie
What it is: A cartoon series from creator Lisa Hanawalt about two best bird friends.
Why it’s important: Featuring the voice acting talents of Tiffany Haddish and Ali Wong as the titular Tuca & Bertie, this adult animated series explores women’s issues with humor and grace. In a television space hugely dominated by men, Hanawalt’s victory is especially welcome. (Note: Tuca & Bertie was canceled at Netflix after one season, but will continue on Adult Swim beginning .)
Where to watch: Tuca & Bertie Season 1 is now streaming on Netflix.
12. Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen
What it is: A documentary film featuring transgender creators discussing representation in Hollywood.
Why it’s important: Trans women are women, and Netflix’s Disclosure does an excellent job of dissecting the biased pop culture that has led too many to believe otherwise. Laverne Cox, Yance Ford, Zeke Smith, Lilly Wachowski, Alexandra Billings, and many more speak to the experience of watching and creating trans media in a world too slow to demand respectful inclusion.
Where to watch: Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen is now streaming on Netflix.
13. Knock Down the House
What it is: A documentary film following four female candidates in the 2018 midterm elections.
Why it’s important: Of course, we all know the end to this political whodunit (who-achieved-it?) but there’s still so much we can learn about how women behave in American politics from Knock Down the House. It’s a searing look at double standards and patriarchal bullshit worth a watch, no matter your side of the aisle. And if you love AOC, you will certainly love this.
14. Audrie & Daisy
What it is: A harrowing documentary film profiling teenage victims of rape.
Why it’s important: Director Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk’s Audrie & Daisy is a film that has only grown in importance since premiering. Capturing the horrendous abuse enacted against victims of rape and their families, Audrie & Daisy remains a critical document in the world’s understanding of sexual assault allegations and the systems designed to punish those who make them.
Where to watch: Audrie & Daisy is now streaming on Netflix.
15. Feminists: What Were They Thinking?
What it is: A documentary film from director Johanna Demetrakas on the evolution of feminism.
Why it’s important: Feminists already well-versed in the ever-evolving ideology of the women’s equality movement may not find much new in Demetrakas’ film, which serves as more of a primer than a deep dive. Still, it’s time well spent with women like Judy Chicago, Margaret Prescod, Laurie Anderson, Sally Kirkland, who have advanced and continue to advance gender equality.
Where to watch: Feminists: What Were They Thinking? is now streaming on Netflix.