We’ve all felt less than confident sometimes. So in those moments, instead of drinking a few bottles of wine and watching Dirty Dancing on repeat (or in addition to), you can turn to these 10 TV shows which are not only well-written, but empowering, too. You’ll thank us on those cold, February nights.
1. Parks and Recreation
Just a few episodes of watching Leslie Knope rise through the ranks of small-town government is enough to make anyone believe they can “ and if you don’t believe us, you’ve obviously never seen her sing C+C Music Factory after several glasses of moonshine.
2. The Mindy Project
Arguably one of the best TV shows of last year, The Mindy Project sees a bright, single woman, own not only her OB-GYN practice, but her personal life, too. Refusing to abandon her goals for anyone else’s expectations, you’ll have a heard time figuring out when Mindy-the-character and Mindy-the-writer/actress begins and ends.
3. Mad Men
No, you are not supposed to be empowered by Don Draper. But Peggy Olson’s butt-kicking attitude and abandonment of her old job “ where she was constantly berated and undermined by everyone “ for one where she’s earning cash and respect is both empowering and great to watch. (Provided you pretend the scene where Don throws money in face doesn’t exist.)
4. Mary Tyler Moore
SHE’S GOING TO MAKE IT AFTER ALL. And she did! A single, female professional in 1970 was beyond controversial at the time, but because of her show, countless other women grew up knowing that they could follow their own paths and achieve their goals, too. Women like . . .
Who followed Mary’s lead, and moved back to New York (though this time, to follow her heart). However, life in New York saw a modern marriage between Rhoda and Joe, and when things didn’t go well, they filed for divorce “ another brow-raising move circa the mid ˜70s.
6. 30 Rock
Two words: Liz Lemon. Perhaps the best poster child for a woman who accepts only what she wants. (Which explains why she runs her own show, has a fantastic apartment, and marries James Marsden “ but on her own terms.)
7. Murphy Brown
Candice Cameron’s 1980s career woman was a huge step for female TV characters, and an even bigger one when she was diagnosed and subsequently beat breast cancer. In moments where you’re not sure if you can, simply gaze upon Murphy Brown “ she could, and so can you.
8. The Hour
You may not have yet seen this BBC drama (now finished its second season), but watching Romola Garai’s Bel Rowley run a controversial news program in the midst of the Red Scare makes you wish Mad Men would show other women following suit.
Never doubt the magic of Bea Arthur. And though we loved (LOVED) her in Golden Girls, it was her turn as Maude, the middle-aged, outspoken, liberal women living with her fourth husband that broke down major barriers in the 1970s. Also one of the first shows to deal with abortion outright, Maude (or more so Bea) was hailed as a feminist icon following the show’s run.
Roseanne often doesn’t get enough credit for her contribution to TV, but knowing the history of the show (that Ms. Barr was often undermined by male producers, and eventually fired anyone who crossed her once she was given full creative authority), makes you appreciate what she overcame. That, and Roseanne’s message to her children was usually sincere and right: at no point did she ever encourage them to be less than themselves, which is a lesson we should all embrace.