02 Aug 2022

Off-Beat Shows With Female Lead: The Ultimate TV-Night List Pt. 1

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Tv Screen with popcorn and tv remote on a wooden table

Do you ever start watching a show or a series and can hardly wait to get back to it the first chance you get? Do you binge-watch mind-piercing shows for hours to float your boat? Your ultimate snack & grub partner, Milkbasket, brings you this ultimate list of off-beat shows with Female Lead roles. 

Until about a few years ago, the percentage of cinema and media with females in solid lead roles was relatively small. In the last 2 decades, the industry has evolved significantly to give us more brain food and entertainment that is also realistic. It’s breaking barriers and giving us content with representation and stories that change the norms.

Best Web Series with Female Leads

This list, of course, isn’t limited to Web Series. It also includes shows that have run on TV but are now available to view online on OTT platforms. We have a long list of suggestions and therefore, are covering only a few of those in this post. Wait for Part 2 of this post for more recommendations of off-beat shows with female lead characters.

Man holding remote and a bowl of nacho chips, woman holind popcorn, watching TV on a couch

So, friends and countrymen, gather your stock of chips, dips, snacks, and beverages, and get ready! No experience is complete without cheesy nachos or your preferred kind of Farsaan & namkeens. The writer of this blog personally prefers a tub overflowing with a mix of 4700 BC caramel and salted popcorn.

But surely, we all have our choices of snacks and content to binge on! However, regardless of the number of choices, you can easily order snacks and beverages online. Simply download the Milkbasket grocery shopping app, order all your daily essentials online, and get home delivery!

Intellectual Shows with Female Lead in Powerful Roles

If you are someone who likes a tickle to your brainy-bone, we hope that you find this list binge-worthy. And now, without further ado, we’ll begin with some of our bona fide recommendations.

Madam Secretary

Madam Secretary McCord with husband Henry Mccord - shows with female lead characters
Image Source: Medium

Starring Tea Leone as the lead character Secretary McCord, this one is definitely a must-watch for people who like political shows with positive characters who have enviable integrity. The lead female character Elisabeth Mccord (played by Leone) is an indomitable ex-CIA who is appointed as U.S Secretary of the State (equivalent to the External Affairs Minister in India). If we were to draw a similarity with another show, you can find this one vying with the likes of ‘Designated Survivor’.

Secretary McCord’s character is particularly easily likable because she does it all and oh-so-well. She’s a mother with three teenagers who are all different from each other. She also shares an empowering and romantic relationship with her wonderful, equable, and highly supportive husband Henry McCord. 

However, her skills and commitment as a leader and a mentor are what makes her so admirable. She takes the hard decisions, carries them through, and always chooses peace and integrity in the most sticky situations. We’d all die to work with a leader like her. 

Watch Out For

Surely, the show does provide an idealistic view of the world. Secretary McCord’s co-workers are full of integrity and have limitless time for their job. Her family is contemporary and ideal, which is not what everyone can relate to but only hope for. The world peace issues edge on oversimplification while the USA is portrayed as the greatest country on the planet. However, the remarkable performances, ideals, and the feel-god nature of this show will keep you hooked to it.

Available on: Amazon Prime Video

Fleabag

Phoebe Waller Bridge in Fleabag - shows with female lead characters
Source: Amazon Prime Video

This entertaining show is a comedy at heart with subtle, straightforward, and tones of dark humour. The performance by the lead character played by Phoebe Waller-Bridge will win your heart over. On the scale of Entertainment and Binge-worthiness, this impressionable series is a heavy lifter.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge plays an imperfect, messy, and entertaining character who appears to not have her life together. Yet, you believe in her and root for her as she goes through ups and downs in her café business, love life, family, & more. From a cinematic perspective too, this series is a work of genius, creativity, and a modest display of sharp intellect.

Watch Out For

The absolute hilarity and viewing delight from this show will keep you wanting more. At some point or another, everyone can deeply relate with the lead female character of the show. She is realistic in the sense that her portrayal is far from perfect and faces trouble keeping her Schitt together. In fact, that’s exactly what makes her so fascinating and real.

Available on: Amazon Prime Video

The Handmaid’s Tale

A still from the sets of the Handmaid's Tale - shows with female lead characters
Source: Flickr

This multiple Emmy, Golden Globe & various other award winning show is dark, emotional, and beautifully shot. There are so many reasons why this show has to be a must-watch on your list. It is based on the popular book by the same name authored by Margaret Atwood. 

The Handmaid’s Tale takes place in a fictional dystopian future where people (especially women) are stripped of their rights and liberties by a powerful few. The story takes place in a fictional nation called the Republic of Gilead which is governed by a totalitarian and conservative government. During the show, you take a deep dive into the present, the future, and the past of various important characters and how they all fit together together in a collective tragedy.

Watch Out for

Nothing short of true cinematic genius, the direction of this show is superb with breathtaking shots and colour tones. The story is riveting, and the stellar performances by all the actors make it harrowingly realistic. You can’t help but root for the extremely impressionable lead female character ‘Offred/June’ played by Elizabeth Moss. 

The show is intense, borderline gory at times, and takes you on a rollercoaster of deep, true emotions. There are strong female characters that are heroes, victims, aggressors – many in powerful positions and yet throwing light on how they are governed by the norms of patriarchy. All in all, this one packs a strong punch!

Available on: Amazon Prime Video

Human

A production still from Human - Disney Hotsar shows with female lead characters

Human stars two of the most talented female TV/Film/Theater personalities of India – Kirti Kulhari and Shefali Shah. The performances by the two leading ladies as well as a great supporting cast are reason enough to watch the show. However, even the story is so riveting that it takes you through an almost realistic account of pharmaceutical drug-testing in India and the lives affected by it.

Shefali Shah plays the role of a prominent doctor who heads a big medical institution. On the other hand, Kirti Kulhari also plays the role of a doctor with a vision and determination. Both of them share a relationship that blurs boundaries as they deal with a world of pharma companies, human drug trials, social relationships and stigmas, politics, and the law. It’s a progressive show with brilliant writing, screenplay, queer representation, and is also truly entertaining.

Watch Out for

The scenes are tastefully shot, the pace is consistently gripping, and it is devoid of soap-opera like drama. It is a thriller which takes you through a roller coaster of emotions and keeps you at the edge of your seat. From a technical perspective, this show is an example of some great film-making too.

Available on: Disney+ Hotstar

The Queen’s Gambit

Anya Taylor-Joy in a chess still from Queen's Gambit - shows with female lead characters
Source: Chess.com via Netflix

We love stories about underdogs that beat all odds and finally make it big, don’t we? The Queen’s Gambit is a period series that takes you back to the 60’s in the most tasteful, genius, and aesthetic ways. It follows Beth Harmon, an orphaned girl who is a chess genius and struggles with addiction. 

The character of Beth Harmon is a likeable, eccentric genius who struggles with life in orphanages, foster homes, and accidental addiction. The lead character grown on you from the get-go and is cheerleading for her as she grapples with her love for chess. Without proper training, tools, or practice, Harmon dares to make a mark in the world of the Grand Master’s chess.

Watch Out for

This limited-episode mini-series is beautifully shot and takes you to the Cold War era. The art direction makes the stills from the episodes look like beautiful photographs and paintings. Anya Taylor-Joy is great and easily likeable as Beth Harmon. 

The Queen’s Gambit is different from our usual dose of shows with female lead characters that are outspoken. It is a refreshing take on stories with a female as the central protagonist, making it absolutely binge-worthy.

Available on: Netflix

Have you seen any of these shows before? Have any other great suggestions of binge-worthy shows with female lead roles for your fellow netizens? Share in the comments below! Let’s see how many make it to the Part II of this series!

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