Top Feminist Moments In TV And Film
Our go-to-guide when you need an empowering pick-me-up.
When we get together for a night in with our girlfriends, when it comes to the question of what to watch, the term “chick flick” or “rom-com” is usually thrown into the mix somewhere. Stereotypically, this genre is seen as nothing more than a light-hearted projection of predominantly “female” themes, often pertaining to love and romance. Not only are these assumptions derogatory – they take away from the poignant intricacies that many of these TV shows and films have to offer.
While the genre itself may be marketed more towards women, many of these films and series’ do in fact move away from the formulaic boy-meets-girl plot, revealing insightful truths along the way. With such an array of empowering women at the centre of this genre - we’ve narrowed it down to a select few that are guaranteed to leave you feeling inspired.
Here are our top, feminist, must-watch moments for when you’re next in need of a girl-power boost. From classic films to Netflix originals – these female role models will have you channelling your inner boss in no time.
We couldn’t talk about feminist films and not mention Elle Woods, right? Known for her fabulous outfits and sharp wit – Reese Witherspoon’s iconic character possesses a unique tenacity, which sets her apart from most blonde bombshells.
Her transition from naïve, lovestruck sorority sister to “serious” lawyer comes as she boldly declares: “I’ll show you how valuable Elle Woods can be” (referring to her ex, “bonehead” boyfriend).
Proving that you can look great and win a murder case, Elle manages to supersede everyone’s expectations through hard work, talent, and most importantly – always remaining true to herself.
Devil Wears Prada
Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway form the ultimate duo in this 2006 classic - based on Lauren Weisberger’s novel of the same name. Miranda Priestly is often viewed as one of cinema’s most infamous female villains. However, Streep plays her character with a powerful subtlety, always hinting at the deeper intricacies of her character.
The scene in which a tearful, makeup-free Priestly reveals a momentary glimpse of vulnerability is quickly short-lived. After briefly opening up to Andy (Anne Hathaway) about her impending divorce, Streep’s character soon pivots to more important matters, as she shifts her focus to the flower arrangements for an upcoming event.
Refraining from dwelling on her marital problems, the empathy that the film elicits for Miranda here highlights the struggles that modern-career women face. As Andy rightfully points out earlier in the film, while Miranda is “tough” – if she were a man, “no one would notice anything about her, except how great she is at her job”.
Indeed, it’s Miranda’s complex, glacial exterior coupled with Andy’s admirable resilience - as she tries to establish her professional identity, that make these two women such an iconic female powerhouse. If this film doesn’t encourage you to take the career ladder by storm, we don’t know what will!
A star-studded cast of strong but equally sexy women is at the heart of this show. Created by Marc Cherry in 2004, the series has garnered huge success over the years and is now available to stream on Amazon prime (hint hint).
The women in this show refuse to abide by female archetypes. Any stereotype associated with your typical, 40-something housewife is quickly undermined as this “dramedy” series takes us on a wild ride of infamous scandals, steamy affairs, and murder cover-ups.
However, what makes this show so ground-breaking is not just the way it navigates light and shade - it’s the fact that it champions real women, who are subject to quirks and flaws, just like the rest of us.
By subverting societal expectations of what a working mother or devoted wife can and “should” be, Wisteria Lane opens us up to a perfectly imperfect suburbia, which seeks to empower women at every twist and turn.
Julia Roberts received an Oscar for her portrayal of real-life, twice-divorced, mother of three, who successfully leads a small law firm to victory over a major gas and electric company (PG&E).
Adopting the “fake it till you make it” approach, Brockovich uses every trick in the book to get employed. From plunging necklines and short miniskirts, to quite literally demanding a job in front of her soon-to-be colleagues: “I don’t need pity, I need a pay-check”.
Roberts’ character is an advocate for justice and doing what’s right. The way in which she juggles life as a single mother, whilst working tirelessly to bring down a corrupt corporation is nothing short of extraordinary. We can certainly take a leaf out of Brockovich’s book when it comes to standing up for what we believe in.
Based on real events, this Netflix miniseries documents the incredible rags to riches story of hair mogul, Madam C.J Walker. As America’s first black, self-made millionaire – Walker’s success is testament to her strength, determination, and ability to surpass adversity.
Proving that ambition can defy all odds, this series is a must-watch if you’re looking for a period tale that is both heart-warming and entertaining. Octavia Spencer brings the hair-care legend to life – provoking both empathy and humour through her portrayal of Walker.
The show not only details how Walker builds her business from the ground up - it also touches on the systematic hurdles she faces such as colourism in the black community. These subtle nuances are what separate the series from your typical tale of triumph – get streaming now!
In case you missed it, The Third Wave Of Feminism