10 TV Shows From 2015 That Had Great Gender, Race and Sexuality Representation

By Vaagisha Das and Rohini Banerjee:

[envoke_twitter_link]2015 was a good year for intersectional feminist representation on screen[/envoke_twitter_link]. With TV shows like Orange is the New Black, Orphan Black and The Mindy Project getting fresh seasons that were, if possible, even more female centric and inclusive, the small screen, with its engaging storylines and broadening platform, seems to be getting more and more recognition. Here are some TV shows of 2015 that caught the attention of viewers in a good way- and held us captivated.

Jessica Jones

This Netflix original is hands down one of the most feminist shows of all time. Ostensibly a superhero show, it follows the story of Jessica Jones, a private investigator, as she tries to find Kilgrave, a man who held her physically and psychologically captive. It makes the audience realise that Kilgrave- who is repeatedly shown to be obsessed with making pretty girls ‘smile’ at him- is the literal embodiment of male privilege. It also deals with issues like rape, consent, child abuse and PTSD with a sensitivity and nuance that has rarely been seen on any form of mainstream visual media. With a snarky, devil-may-care female protagonist and a canonically queer character, what more could one ask for?

Sense8

Possibly having one of the most diverse casts ever, this show focuses on the lives of eight people connected by a psychic bond- and these people are literally scattered all over the world: India, Iceland, Hong Kong, and more. One of the first TV shows to be produced by a trans woman, the show features interracial relationships, gay and lesbian relationships as well as others- and treats them all the same. The character development- even that of the supporting cast- is a delight, and the visuals equally so. Though not perfect, it comments on race, sexuality, and the overwhelming power of human connection beautifully.

Steven Universe

This is a show for the Cartoon Network lovers. Featuring a young boy with magical powers, Steven Universe incorporates queer representation in the best way possible. Aside from featuring lesbian relationships, it also includes genderqueer characters. Representation is important when one is figuring out their gender or sexual identity, and the show seems to be checking all the right boxes.

Agent Carter

There are alot of reasons to love Agent Carter, and Hayley Atwell-who plays the lone secret agent and hero amidst a workplace full of misogynist, blustering men- is definitely one of them. It is incredibly satisfying to see a character previously relegated to a love interest get her own storyline- and take down the Bad Guys with a literal blow to the head.Set in the aftermath of World War II, Agent Carter does an even better job of stomping assumptions in her red fedora, and the resulting fanfiction shipping her and her best friend Angie is just another excuse to watch the show.

How To Get Away With Murder

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The show that won Viola Davis an Emmy, How to Get Away with Murder has it all: a diverse cast, women who slay in multidimensional, non-stereotypical roles, men who are competitors without being misogynist, and a no-nonsense, black female professor who powers the whole show. There is a variety of sexuality among the main cast, and no mention of slut shaming, prude shaming, or even looking down upon people who have extra marital affairs. Based around multiple murders, the show keeps one on the edge of their seat with anticipation.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

There is blatant sexism present in its off putting title, and the show knows it, and subverts it- actually, the show addresses it directly into the theme song itself. Wickedly, bitingly funny, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is the story of Rebecca Brunch as she leaves a successful career to follow her ex-boyfriend Josh to ‘fill a Josh sized void in her heart’. The show follows the patriarchal expectations of women to a T- and then, by oversexualising and sensationalising them, makes a commentary on it. The stereotype of the title is treated as something to be dismantled, rather than fulfilled- and the awesome musical numbers are a huge plus.

Master of None

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Aziz Ansari, a self-proclaimed feminist, who is best known for his character as the much underrated Tom Haverford in Parks and Recreation, has written and starred in this show- and it is every bit as good as the former. The show deals with racism, white privilege, and feminism- and is all too aware about it, as exemplified by an episode titled ‘Indians on TV’. However, its crowning glory has been its seventh episode, which deals with feminism by way of different situations- from something as mundane as women being handshake snubbed to the more serious situations of male entitlement, where a woman is followed home by a man insisting she date ‘the nice guy’.

Transparent

How would you know you knew yourself? Jill Soloway’s new show, Transparent, wonders- and then goes on to illustrate this in the most casual, incisive, funny way possible. Focusing on Mort, who was assigned male at birth and is finally transitioning after his retirement, the show is based on his struggles to be accepted by his three children as a ‘trans- parent’. The dialogue and the show itself feel surprisingly naturalistic- you keep waiting for something to happen, and it does, but it just does. The narrative flows effortlessly, and the moments of banter and easy intimacy among the family as they try to accept their ‘Moppa’ makes the producer’s multiple awards well deserved.

Supergirl

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For us feminist superhero comic lovers, Supergirl is a dream come true. We see Kara, Superman’s plucky, charming cousin find superhero potential and learn to save the day. Not only does she beat up baddies but also shuts down everyday sexism. An icing on the feminist cake is Kara’s boss, Cat Grant — who is a strong, successful, layered woman and the CEO of a major media magnate. Cat often offers Kara wisdom about empowerment, and to see these two interact is simply heartwarming (unsurprisingly, fans have already started shipping them together). Oh, and there’s also some wonderful female bonding between Kara and her stepsister Alex. All in all, this is definitely a must-watch for all of us thirsting for some complex, badass female superheroes.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

When the theme song of a show goes “Females are strong as hell”, you know that it’s the one to watch. Though it takes on a seemingly dark premise — that of a woman who’d been rescued from years of imprisonment in a bunker — it manages to turn it into a commentary on the ridiculousness (and often sexism) of New York life, via Kimmy’s eccentric landlord (Carol Kane), her Native-American-who’s-pretending-to-be-white-to-seem-respectable-employer (Jane Krakowski) and her gay black aspiring actor roommate (Titus Burgess). The way it deals with race and gender is sensitive, but hilarious — a truly amazing thing to behold!

With Shonda Rimes’ Catch and the Rashida Jones starrer Angie Tribeca set to debut next year, it looks like the baton is being passed. Here’s hoping 2016 would be another amazing year for diverse representation on TV!