Some Feminist-friendly Finds on Netflix

Commander in Chief

Commander in ChiefCan you envision the day when the United States of America finally has a female president? If you can’t, Commander in Chief should help. Geena Davis won a Golden Globe for Best Actress for her role as a female president in this series, which unfortunately aired for only one season. Her character faces domestic and international crises that would be expected of any world leader, as well as some uniquely female opportunities to counter sexism.

Bomb Girls

Bomb GirlsWe often talk about our foremothers who paved the way for women in the workforce by working in factories during World War II, personified by the iconic Rosie the Riveter. Yet, it never even occurred to me to ask, “What the heck does a riveter do?” My unasked question is answered by Bomb Girls, a fictional series set in a Canadian World War II era bomb factory “manned” mostly by women.

Secrets of Mary Magdalene

It is always nice to learn about the few female scripture heroines we have and Secrets of Mary Magdalene goes further and delves into how societal ideas about women have changed our perspective about this important scriptural character over time. Even my eight-year-old daughter was enthralled with this documentary. That surprised me because when I was her age, I used to hate watching Bible-themed movies like the Robe with my mom, even though they were at least dressed up with a fictional storyline.Secrets of Mary Magdalene (I appreciate the Robe now that I am an adult and it is also available via Netflix streaming, FYI.) After Secrets of Mary Magdalene was over, she begged for another Bible movie. I found one, but It was more typically man-centric and she almost immediately lost interest and wandered away.


Do you have any recommendations for a feminist in need of some couch potato time?

April Young Bennett

April Young Bennett is the author of the Ask a Suffragist book series and host of the Religious Feminism Podcast. Learn more about April at

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18 Responses

  1. Naismith says:

    Not sure of the exact status since titles come off and on streaming but…

    A League of Their Own about the women’s baseball teams during WWII

    The classic documentary Miss Representation which is entertaining enough that it delivers even if you are looking for fluff.

    Star Trek Voyager, with a female captain.

    Call the Midwife. There is a lot about work-life balance after Chummy marries, and identity vs. marriage as well as a keen appreciation for modern birth control.

    Bramwell about the challenges of a female doctor at the previous turn of the century.

    I would love to cite a positive view of the homemakers role, that respects and values traditional female contributions, but I haven’t seen one in years……

  2. Loved “Bomb Girls”, hated “Land Girls”, which was about women who were sent out to work the farms of England in WWI. Way, way too much injected drama.

    I’ve really enjoyed “Call the Midwife”, it having a good range of women and experiences, from both sides of the birthing.

    Recently tried watching “Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries”, which is about a woman who becomes a detective in post WWI Australia, but it was just the awfulness you get when you take a standard murder mystery show and change a couple of the characters from men to women, without changing any of the attitudes reactions, or sexism. If Miss Fisher were a man, doing half what she did in the first episode would have been reviled. Since she’s a woman, it all just fair play, isn’t it?

    Then there’s always any Miss Marple mysteries. Christie really did an amazing job with that character.

    For anime (on Netflix, which is sparse), I’d recommend “Sword Art Online”, which has a very strong female secondary character, but only through the first main story arc. After that, she gets relegated to the standard “Damsel in distress”, which is probably why the series didn’t continue after.

    I’d also recommend “Sakura Wars” and “Kaleido Star”, but Netflix doesn’t have them anymore. 😛

  3. Jess R says:

    The Bletchley Circle is awesome. I think it’s still available. It’s about a group of women who spent World War II cracking codes for the Brittish military and are expected to go back to being housewives after the war ends. They get bored and decide to start using their brilliant minds to solve crimes instead.

  4. spunky says:

    The Bletchley Circle is awesome! I am hoping beyond hope that they do a second series!

    I also love Made in Dagenham, about female factory workers who unite to demand fair pay for women. “Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries” is actually one of my favs– they address topics like abortion in an era when it was still illegal (The series also nods at some Australian history– especially Melbourne era history, wherein the all too common drownings of infants by their unemployed, unmarried mothers caused enough repulsion to grant women the vote– among other feminist ideals as a matter of the survival of single mothers. In the book series, Phryne takes an Asian lover…. it’ll be fun to see if the series invites that as well.) And the costuming is fabulous.

    Whale Rider is a classic.

    For children’s pro-feminist series, I LOVE Holly’s Heroes. It started in 2005 and went for 3 or 4 seasons. Its primary character is a New Zealand girl who migrates to Australia. Her mother is the primary breadwinner of the family, so the father has more time at home with kids. Holly loves basketball, but doesn’t make the school team, so she creates her own team where she is team captain.

    • Ok, finished Blechley Circle tonight – amazing show, but going to give nightmares for a bit. It’s some pretty serious suspense, non-graphic, and I’d highly recommend it for anyone feeling like they’re stuck at home feeling like they’re not able to use their talents.

      Thanks, Spunky 🙂

  5. Laura says:

    Rosemary & Thyme is a detective show that features two middle-age women–one a plant pathologist, one a former policewoman who left the force to raise a family–as partners in a landscape architecture business, and amateur sleuths, who apply their botany knowledge to crime-fighting. I love that the show focuses on the lives of older women, and shows how their professional knowledge and street smarts so often save the day.

    Margaret Thatcher: The Iron Lady is now on Netflix. It chronicles Thatcher’s rise to power as British Prime Minister. I remember from my childhood thinking how cool it was that the British PM was a woman, but I had no way to understand how formidable she was. Very interesting film.

    Call the Midwife and Commander-in-Chief are two of my all-time favorite shows. Thanks for the recommendations!

  6. Em says:

    I like the Vicar of Dibley. Dawn French plays Geraldine Granger, a woman vicar who is assigned to a tiny village, who were expecting “a bloke with a beard and bad breath.” It is gentle, sometimes repetitious humor, but I just love seeing a female ecclesiastical leader. It all reminds me a lot of ward council. The villagers are all nutters, except the head of the Parish Council who starts out actively protesting a woman vicar and ends up changing his mind, because she is rad. It is my go-to when I feel sick and want to lie in bed being passively delighted with something sweet, good, funny, and in no way taxing.

  7. Erin Whitney says:

    I haven’t seen this in awhile, but I remember the film _Say Anything_ fondly because the boy falls for the class valedictorian–a beautiful and brainy girl whom he must win over before she leaves for England on a scholarship. Gave me hope that someday someone would like my for my mind! :^)

  8. Emily says:

    Covert Affairs! Totally just for fun, but a female protagonist CIA operative with a female boss. And it’s clean, I can watch it with my 10 year old daughter 🙂

  9. EFh says:

    There are quite a few movies that I think have great stories about women. There is one that I really liked watching called “An Education”. It was about an ambitious young girl who is studying hard to go to Oxford but then falls in love with a very fascinating man that shows her how fun life can be. She starts enjoying life and her ambitions become secondary but after a few disappointing events she learns a few lessons and starts re-learning of who she is and what makes her happy. It is a great movie. I am not sure if it is still available to watch online. You might need to order it as a DVD.

  10. Michelle says:

    This is not on Netflix or amazon prime, but Borgen is definitely worth tracking down. My library system had it on DVD. It is a Danish Tv drama (subtitled) that features Brigitte Nyborg, a politician who through a series of unusual events gets elected to be prime minister. It is fantastic. There are three seasons.

    Veronica Mars (three seasons) is available on amazon prime and stars Kristen Bell as a teenage detective. She is smart and witty and doesn’t let anyone tell her what to do. Plus it is just plain fun.

    These two shows have helped me make through this summer when I’ve yearned for strong models of female power.

  11. Melody says:

    I feel like I just struck gold! This is a fabulous post, April. Thank you! And thanks to all the commenters too.

  12. Naismith says:

    So any suggestions of movies or TV series that portray a full-time mom/homemaker in a positive light?

    If our daughters are to have a true choice about how to spend their time, then they should be exposed to all options, not just those of employed women in various careers.

    (I know it might be hard for someone from Utah to understand, but for most LDS, our kids have female dentists and teachers and are exposed to women in all kinds of careers, but may not know a family in which mom is at home fulltime for a season. And all of my granddaughters were born after I returned to paid work.)

    • Christi says:

      Don’t know how appropriate it is for younger kids, but Parenthood portrays a stay at home mom in a positive light (at least I think it does).

    • spunky says:

      That’s a hard slog, I can’t recall any at the moment, other than the Holly’s Heroes series, but it is for kids. Same with the cartoon, Doc McStuffins (the mother is a doctor, and the dad is the SAHP).

  13. Emily says:

    Regarding Covert Affairs…I must repent. Season 3 is not so clean LOL Still feminist friendly, but maybe not for 10 year olds 😉

  1. August 21, 2014

    […] It is always nice to learn about the few female scripture heroines we have and Secrets of Mary Magdalene goes further and delves into how societal ideas about women have changed our perspective about this important scriptural character over time. …read more […]

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