8 Feminist Shows From Childhood That We Miss
10:30 am, June 27th | by
TV doesn’t always rot your brain: It can actually be quite informative. I watched a lot of shows in my early years and found myself drawn to programs with dynamic female leads. Gilmore Girls pushed me to keep up my writing dreams in middle school, Ally McBeal fed my ambitious side, and The Baby-sitter’s Club helped me start making money. Here are a couple of programs from my formative years that promoted strong women.
1. The Baby-sitters Club
I first learned about earning cash and working hard upon watching this show, which follows a bunch of young girls' babysitting business. I wanted to start one of my own! It's a very pro-entrepreneur program.
2. Gilmore Girls
I started watching
Gilmore Girls in junior high and haven't stopped since. All right, I sort of had to put a stop to my viewing when the program got canceled in 2007, but I own several of the seasons on DVD and enjoy the episodes from time to time. Lorelai is a single mother who got pregnant with daughter Rory at age 16. She leaves home to take care of her little girl, who becomes quite an ambitious young lady with Harvard and journalism aspirations. Rory inspired me to keep following my writing dreams and maintain my mores in high school. She's also a strong character who achieves a lot without the help of any men. Lorelai is independent as well. If I could, I'd switch lives with one of them and reside in Stars Hollow.
3. Malcolm in the Middle
The boys are poorly behaved on the underrated sitcom, but their mother is as tough as they come. She runs the household and makes all the rules. She's the queen of the castle, and even the disrespectful teenage guys know it.
4. Ally McBeal
I wasn't allowed to watch the lawyer drama as a kid, but I totally did. Ally is an attorney with an independent streak who works at the same firm as her childhood flame Billy, who is married to one of their co-workers. Ally cycles through a lot of guys on the show but proves she doesn't actually need one to lead a fulfilling life.
5. Joan of Arcadia
I was a huge fan of the screenwriting on
Joan of Arcadia, a show from the early 2000s that explored religion in a non-preachy manner. Portrayed by the comical Amber Tamblyn, Joan is a quirky high school student who starts to see God in her everyday life. He comes in many different forms and they banter back and forth all the time. Joan is different from everyone else at her school, and she's also a free-thinker. Glee wasn't around in my early teen years, so I didn't have many programs telling me that being unique and different is special. Joan of Arcadia did that for me, and I'm really thankful it showed me that good people aren't always like everyone else.
6. Clarissa Explains It All
Do we really need to explain why
Clarissa Explains It All was fantastic? She kept a baby caiman named Elvis in her bedroom. Her cool best friend, Sam, regularly climbed through her window with a ladder (because cool people don't use doors). And, if you need more proof that this show should be on our list, consider this plot summary from the show's pilot episode: "After Clarissa gets her first training bra, she tries to exact revenge on her brother for showing her bra at school, using a plan involving a straightjacket and huge balloons." Huge balloons. The best revenge plans always involve huge balloons!
7. Hey Dude
Hey Dude -- Hey Dude's best-known alum is, in all likelihood, Christine Taylor, who played lifeguard Melody. And sure, there's one episode in which Melody (improbably?) starts training for the Olympics, which is pretty hardcore. But our favorite feminist character from Hey Dude? Brad. First of all, to an 8-year-old, a female character named "Brad" is just downright subversive and edgy. Second of all, the show begins with everyone else on the ranch thinking she's too prissy and uptight to handle The Tough Life On The Ranch. Naturally [cue the violins] she proves them all wrong. Go, Brad.
8. All That
Lori. Beth. Denberg. Educate yourself.
Amy Tennery contributed to this piece.