Keen for a new on-the-screen series to binge-watch, or something to listen to on your phone during your daily commute? It’s been a while since Game of Thrones finished with that tiny, disappointing fizzle, but if you still can’t find something to fill that Jon Snow-sized hole, try one of these binge-worthy TV, Netflix, movie and podcast recommendations from EL editors and readers.
As a nod to International Women’s Day, we’re focusing this month’s recommendations on stories with strong female characters.
TV & Film
There are plenty of classic strong females on the screen, from Erin Brockovich to Elle Woods, but don’t forget to check out some of the characters in newer stories like these below (and keep an eye out for upcoming releases Black Widow and Mulan).
“I’m not sure where to begin on this one, but I adore Fleabag and I never thought I would. Honestly, I started watching it because of all the hype and awards. Phoebe Waller-Bridge is a genius. She’s not only the star, but the writer, too. As the blurb says, this is a British comedy about a woman in London ‘who has no filter as she navigates life and love in London while trying to cope with tragedy’. It’s fresh, funny and, with each episode only 30 minutes long, it’s easy to binge-watch. Tip: Do not watch with your mother or children, especially the first episode. Trust me!” – Michaela Bisset
The Morning Show
“Apple TV’s The Morning Show doesn’t just offer a behind-the-scenes look at how a hit morning show operates, it also explores the #MeToo storyline within the broadcast newsroom. When everyone’s favourite morning talk show co-host Mitch (Steve Carrell) is fired for sexual misconduct, his long-time cohost Alex (Jennifer Aniston) is left scrambling to pick up the pieces and save her own job. When Bradley (Reese Witherspoon) comes on as Alex’s new co-host, the two are pitted against each other, creating a constantly changing dynamic that’s so interesting to watch. One is a seasoned TV host who has existed in a male-dominated system that’s barely made space for her, and the other is a younger, outspoken journalist trying to make her mark. Throw in the talent bookers, producers, studio heads and other players, and you’ve got a whole lot of layered office dynamics and gender politics to deal with over the course of the ten episodes – and I loved every minute of it.
“At its core, The Morning Show is about women discovering that they have more power than they initially thought, and how they choose to use it – with ambition, misogyny, accountability, workplace relationships and ageism all at play. What I particularly love is that the characters don’t always fit nicely into the ‘villainous predator’ and ‘innocent victim’ categories; each is humanised and all sides are explored, without everything being black and white. It’s an honest, timely look at the entertainment industry (or any industry, for that matter) and how it’s changing as women speak up for themselves. This one will entertain (the cast is amazing!) and make you think. Definitely worth a watch.” – Amy Greenburg
“This series, based on Margaret Atwood’s book by the same name, is the kind of television that haunts you long after you’ve flicked off your set. Elizabeth Moss is absolutely mesmerising as the central character of the show, Offred, a handmaid. Truly, Moss’s portrayal is one of the most powerful performances I’ve ever seen. Couple the strong acting with the storyline and you have gripping TV.
Offred lives in the Republic of Gilead, a totalitarian and theocratic state that has replaced the United States of America. Because of dangerously low reproduction rates, handmaids are assigned to bear children for elite, infertile couples and the story unfolds in unimaginable ways. The show tells the story of seemingly weak women who embrace their power along the way. And guess what? For you readers out there, Margaret Atwood has now written the sequel, called The Testaments. Can’t wait!” – Melinda Murphy
“The 2019 version of Little Women is a good one to watch for International Women’s Day. An author who was definitely ahead of her time and whose legacy has lasted more than 150 years is something to aspire to. This is apparently the seventh film adaptation of the book, and it has film veterans Meryl Streep and Laura Dern alongside younger stars like Emma Watson and James Norton. As school was a very long time ago for me, I couldn’t remember the book, but the storyline came back to me as I watched, and I really enjoyed it and the acting.” – Rebecca Bisset
Dolly Parton’s America
“Whether you swing left or right, there is no denying that global politics is a steaming hot mess right now. Sometimes, it feels more divided than ever. We’re yearning for a unifying beacon to bring us all together – and Dolly Parton is just the woman for the job!
“The good folks that brought us Radiolab released a nine-part podcast series last year, Dolly Parton’s America. The episodes delve into the world of Dolly in her own words and how she relates to the country as a whole. It’s thoughtful and deeply reverent with some surprising turns. Here’s a quick checklist of her grade-A awesome girl power: Dolly was writing about pregnancy loss, domestic violence and suicide in the 60s. She was also a vocal advocate for leaving abusive relationships, which she did herself. ‘Jolene’ smashes all of the stale country music tropes by her appealing respectfully and as an equal to ‘the other woman’. She has inspired hordes of young LGBTQIA+ from the evangelical Deep South to embrace who they are and be happy in their skin. And she was in 9 to 5. I could go on and on.
“Dolly is unapologetic about who she is. She never casts judgement. She’s a prolific songwriting genius and, above all else, she is kind. My new mantra for 2020 is ‘WWDD: What Would Dolly Do?’ Let’s all be more Dolly.” – Kate Marsden