Last month I made a What to Watch List of some of my favorite books, movies, TV shows, and podcasts. This month I wanted to share a list of some of my favorite woman written, produced, directed, and created media.
Hench gives a new face to the gritty superhero narrative. Instead of following along with the morally-grey superhero, we see their destruction from the outside, from the self-proclaimed “bad guys.” When our narrator, Anna, is seriously injured by a superhero while doing freelance hench work for a low-level villain, she finds her way down an eye-opening rabbit hole of the realities of so-called heroism. If you’re in the market for a fresh look at superhero stories that doesn’t sacrifice the fun, look no further.
Juliet Takes a Breath asks it’s audience to take a deeper look at feminism. The novel follows Juliet, a Puerto Rican lesbian from the Bronx, as she interns for her favorite White Feminist author in Portland for the summer. This book is about learning feminism and the ways it serves people differently. It breaks down different spheres of privilege and intersectionality, but it also deals with knowing yourself, through the big questions, the small questions, and the relationships that bind us.
Mexican Gothic is, as the name suggests, a gothic horror story. It has everything you could want from this brand of horror; a big, secluded house harboring dark secrets, hostile hosts, and an exploration of the horrors of racist pseudo-sciences, and the violent misogyny of using women’s bodies. This is a viscerally unsettling read, that is truly horrifying, while maintaining a bit of charm and humor.
The 2000s Made Me Gay is a collection of personal essays, all connected to pop culture events of the 2000s. I’m a bit younger than the author, so if you’re worried you won’t get all the references, it’s okay! She gives context to each discussion, and you might know more than you’d expect. Perry reflects on everything from Katy Perry’s I Kissed a Girl to early Taylor Swift, The Real World to Glee, Harry Potter to Mean Girls, and, of course, Disney Channel, all with a fun and clever queer reading.
I love a good Greek myth retelling, and Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad is not exception. This short novel retells Homer’s The Odyssey from the perspectives of the women, Odysseus’ wife, Penelope, and the twelve hanged maids. It gives a poignant modern voice to this ancient tale and does so with wit and compassion. This novel is as haunting as it is entertaining in a way that resonates across time.
Apparently March is the month of the female anti-hero. In a perfect companion to Hench, Birds of Prey follows Harley Quinn freshly post-breakup as she’s learning to navigate her newly independent life. This movie has a lot of fun elements from the bright colors and adventure, to its fresh take on Gotham. Also, Harley has a pet hyena, need I say more?
Booksmart is the narrative equivalent of pulling a thread and the whole sweater unravels. It’s a hugely relatable movie, even if the hijinks are sometimes over the top. These nerds are determined to end high school with a bang after four years of nothing but studying. They accomplish this by party hopping across town, accidentally doing drugs, awkward hook ups, and arrests. The movie explores the balance between academics and having fun, and at the end of the day isn’t that what we’re all trying to find?
Jennifer’s Body has had a resurgence in recent years, especially amongst queer women, despite its initial snub. This is a horror movie that doesn’t play the women as the perpetual victims. It is a horror-comedy explores the complicated dynamics of female relationships, sexuality, and empowerment, while offering a new perspective on the classic “mean girl” narrative.
Full disclosure, I’m a pretty huge Taylor Swift fan, so I may be biased in my love for this documentary. But even outside of my love for the artist, I think seeing the struggles of being a woman in the public eye, and being at the mercy of other people’s perceptions and narratives, is hugely important. It’s also just a lot of fun to see the behind the scenes of the songwriting process.
5. Turning Red
Pixar’s newest movie is both super fun and silly, while also dealing with growing up and the changes and intergenerational pressures that come with adolescence. It’s a movie that’s hugely relatable to so many, from the 2000s nostalgia and love of boybands, all the way to the pressures and struggles of forgiving and splitting from familial expectations in order to grow into your own person. It’s adorable, heartwarming, and a really great watch.
1. New Girl
There are quite a few trauma narratives on this list, and New Girl is decidedly not one of them. This sitcom is a great choice to relax and laugh with. Following the titular “new girl” Jess and her three roommates; Schmidt, Wilson, and Nick, along with some unexpected celebrity appearances, and this show navigates love, life, and friendship in its own unique, and hilarious, style. If you’re in the market for your next comfort show, give New Girl a shot.
This show may have received criticism for not always adhering to the history, but Self Made is fascinating in its ability to introduce audience to the real, an often unsung, woman who was Madam C.J. Walker. It is a smart and engaging drama through which Octavia Spencer truly shines in the lead role. With only four episodes, it can feel limited, but it is well worth the watch for this triumphant story.
The End of the F*cking World was adapted from a graphic novel series and follows two edgy teenagers, a self-proclaimed psychopath and an angsty, self-proclaimed outcast, as they try to outrun their problems together, despite not liking each other all that much. It’s relatable to anyone who felt like they didn’t fit in, while devolving into an edge-of-your-seat thriller with an ending you’d never expect.
If these lists have demonstrated one thing, it’s that I’m a fan of animation. It’s a creative and diverse medium of storytelling, which is why I’m always looking out for the next best one. And friends, I think I’ve found it. The story may be familiar, with the main character Luz struggling to find a sense of belonging and family on her quest to become a witch, but this show is unlike anything you’ve seen before. It’s ongoing, with new episodes airing each week on Disney Channel and Disney+.
I need to preface this recommendation with a massive trigger warning. This series depicts and deals with not only rape but also the continued victimhood of not being believed. There are plenty of parts of this series that are difficult to watch and if it’s too much for you then that’s completely valid. With that being said, I still think it’s an important watch, with a story that’s continued to be prevalent.
Sounds Fake But Okay, is an ongoing conversation between two women, asexual/aromantic Sarah Costello and Kayla Kaszyca, who is demisexual/heteroromantic. They talk about everything from mental health, coming out and expectations of sex, to watching The Bachelor, playing romance-based mobile games, and reinterpreting love songs. They’re taking a break until April 10, so now is a great time to catch up on past episodes.
I hope you’ll be able to celebrate Women’s History all year long with these recommendations. Comment below any more recommendations of what to watch to celebrate women creators that I missed!