According to Variety magazine, in 2019, the new broadcast shows hit parity for female leads. That means that when looking at the division of male-female lead and co-lead roles, the percentage of women in the roles is on par with men. The magazine identified 102 key roles in 35 new scripted series that debuted in the fall of 2019 and beyond and women comprised 54% of these roles. (The Variety study only included the five major networks, ABC, CBS, Fox, the CW, and NBC. That number would likely vary if the streaming series were included.) This is up from 42% in 2018.
Here are some new shows and fan favorites with female leads.
Euphoria an HBO series: The lead character within the show is played by actress, and former Disney princess, Zendaya. The show follows a young bi-racial girl, Rue. She is a high school student struggling with drug addiction. This show is graphic and doesn’t pull any punches in dealing with issues like sexual identity, drug use, sexual assault, and underage sex.
Big Little Lies an HBO series: The female leads in this show are power-hitters, Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Shailene Woodley, Zoe Kravitz, and Laura Dern. This show is about suburban moms, who deal with the everyday life of taking their children to school, flaunting their money/social status, rumors, cheating, lies, and the occasional murder. The show is not only a critical success but is one of the most-viewed series on HBO.
Grown-ish: The lead character in this series is Yara Shahidi. The show is about a young African American girl who finally enters the world of college and the challenges of not being a kid anymore, but not quite being an adult. It’s an unfiltered look at college life, but also explores the hybrid existence of young adults taking their first steps of independence. The show is a spin-off of the series, Blackish and was created by Kenya Barris.
The Bold Type a Freeform series: The lead actors this TV show are Katie Stevens, Aisha Dee, and Meghann Fahy. This show follows three ladies around New York City who all work for a woman’s magazine. This show is all about friendship and feminism.
Jessica Jones, Netflix: The lead actor is Krysten Ritter. This show is based on a character from a Marvel comic book with the same name. Jessica was once a superhero, but then a tragic accident occurred and, suffering from PTSD, she opens up her detective agency in New York City. Jessica is dealing with life after being a superhero and the messy, confusing world of trying to be ordinary, despite being extraordinary.
Charmed a CW series: The stars of the show are, Sarah Jeffery, Madeleine Mantock and Melonie Diaz. This show is a remake of the original show Charmed that aired from 1998-2006. In this new version, the show is still about three sisters who are witches and who continuously battle dark forces while trying to maintain a normal life.
Claws a TNT series: The lead actors in this show are Niecy Nash, Karrueche Tran, Jenn Lyon, Carrie Preston, and Judy Reyes. This show is about five diverse nail tech artists who are simply trying to make ends meet. Each character has different background stories regardless of what they’ve been through or are going through. They all stick together at any cost. This series is filled with over-the-top drama. But at the heart of the series are the fierce, funny, smart, and, oh-so-fabulous, female characters.
Killing Eve: Two fierce women are equally obsessed with each other, and they soon go head-to-head in an epic game of cat and mouse. It’s much more than the typical spy-action thriller. The series is a celebration of two equally strong female characters. Eve, Sandra Oh, is a bored, whip-smart security services operative whose desk-bound job doesn’t fulfill her fantasies of being a spy. Villanelle, Jodie Comer, is a talented killer, who clings to the luxuries her violent job affords her. This BBC series is now garnering a substantial following stateside, and after watching one show, you’ll understand why critics have called it one of the best television series ever.