Even though the real world put the screws to women in 2018, there was almost an equal surge in the creativity behind genre television series with strong female leads this year. Her Cape takes a look at our favorites (possible spoilers).
CAST: Tuppence Middleton, Jamie Clayton, Doona Bae, Tina Desai, Max Riemelt, Toby Onwumere, Brian J. Smith and Miguel Angel Silvestre
The groundbreaking and genre-blending Netflix series drew to a close this year with the finale episode fans demanded to have. The previously canceled show was revived after rabid fan outrage and a petition with a half million signatures was circulated online. The crown jewel tv series of the Wachowski sisters centered around an international group of eight people with a telepathic link to each other, referred to as a “cluster,” as they try to figure out where their power came from and fight against the nefarious organization that is out to kill them.
Sense8 has the best diverse cast of characters around, with many female characters in powerful positions. Sun (Bae), is the best fighter of the group, Nomi (Clayton) is a transwoman with hacking skills to get them in and out of any situation, Riley (Middleton) is the emotional center of the group and Kala (Desai) is the most resourceful. The series is best known for it’s theme of acceptance and unconditional love in the face of a world who tries to divide people based on their differences, but it’s the ladies who stand out to us. Strong, compassionate, vulnerable and brave, these women make us want to be a part of their cluster.
Sense8 is currently streaming on Netflix.
THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE
CAST: Michiel Huisman, Carla Gugino, Timothy Hutton, Elizabeth Reaser, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Kate Siegel and Victoria Pedretti
This hit Netflix series is a re-imagining of Shirley Jackson’s 1959 novel of the same name. The plot of the series splits between two timelines, following the five adult Crain children whose paranormal experiences Hill House continue to haunt them in present day. The series also flashes back to 1992, detailing the events in Hill House leading up to the fateful night the family left the home. The 10-episode series uses an unique mix of suspense, jump scares and family drama to tell a heartbreaking story about one family’s fight to escape their troubled past. The show is particularly respectful of how childhood traumas shape our behaviors as adults.
While some people dismiss the series as a Conjuring knock-off, the writing and strong performances of the main cast sets it apart. Gugino, Reaser, Siegel and Pedretti all play their characters to a tee, each going through the same trauma but growing up to deal with it in different ways. Siegel’s Theodora Crain in particular is one of the most fascinating roles of the series. As a young girl, “Theo” develops the psychic ability to see things about an object or person when she touches them. She grows up to become a child psychologist (and lesbian) and uses her ability to help heal other children who experienced similar traumas. Our kind of gal.
The Haunting of Hill House is currently streaming on Netflix.
MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.
CAST: Ming-Na Wen, Chloe Bennet, Elizabeth Henstridge, Natalie Cordova-Buckley, Clark Gregg, Henry Simmons and Iain De Caestecker
The only Marvel television series that is a direct spin-off of the MCU, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. follows a team of special operatives as they travel the globe preserving peace, even if that means kicking some ass every now and then. The show has five seasons under it’s belt, which is about the time that any show is lucky to make it that far starts getting a little long in the tooth. However, AoS is one of those shows that keeps getting better and better with each season. While the show initially had strong ties to the greater MCU, it really spread it’s wings and became the show we love today by branching out, creating it’s own mythology. It’s also nice to have some of the lesser known Marvel characters show up every now and then, like the Avengers’ Mockingbird (played by Adrianne Palicki) and Ghost Rider (played by Gabriel Luna).
This season has been particularly hard on our heroines, as they traveled through time and space to save humanity and prevent the literal destruction of the world. Yo-Yo (Cordova-Buckley) loses both of her arms in a battle, which tailspins into a greater debate of life and death as the season comes to a conclusion. Cordova-Buckley is a revelation and does wonders with her emotional range when it comes to Yo-Yo, a character who is badass, independent and used to doing things her own way who has to turn to her friends for help. Daisy (Bennet), grappled with her supposed destiny as the Destroyer of Worlds, a villain who ends up cracking the Earth apart in the future. We see Daisy come into her own by the end of the season, becoming the superhero we all knew she could be. Jemma (Henstridge) was turned into a mute slave for one of the series’ many villains and later lost the love of her life in the staggering season finale. Luckily, she has a spare (it’s a long story).
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is currently available on ABC On Demand and streaming on Hulu.
THE CHILLING ADVENTURES OF SABRINA
CAST: Kiernan Shipka, Lucy Davis, Michelle Gomez, Jaz Sinclair, Tati Gabrielle, Miranda Otto, Ross Lynch, Chance Perdomo and Richard Coyle
The reboot that everyone was talking about, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina takes the ’90s sitcom it is based on and turns it on it’s head. The Netflix original series is much darker, with higher stakes for the characters, especially Sabrina herself. We begin the series with Sabrina approaching her sixteenth birthday, in which a witch is supposed to sign her life over to Satan. Since Sabrina is only half witch, and half human, she struggles with making her decision while trying to balance her secret identity with school and saving the townsfolk of Greendale. It’s almost like a combination of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Harry Potter.
Women rule this show, with Shipka as the lead, Gomez playing a delightfully evil Madame Satan, and Miranda Otto and Lucy Davis turning in magnificent performances as Sabrina’s aunts, Zelda and Hilda, respectively. With a nostalgic soundtrack as an added bonus, Sabrina takes a cue from American Horror Story: Coven, and portrays female witches as the more superior species. We can’t argue with that. Enough cannot be said about the performances in this series by these women, Shipka handles Sabrina’s inner turmoil with her humanity with ease, while Davis, Otto and Gomez dominate the screen each time they have a scene.
The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is currently streaming on Netflix.
CAST: Melanie Scrofano, Dominique Provost-Chalkley, Katherine Barrell, Shamier Anderson and Tim Rozon
A supernatural Western series based on the comic book of the same name, Wynonna Earp is one of the most underrated shows on television. It combines humor, action, drama and the supernatural in a way we haven’t seen since the days of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The show follows the adventures of the modern-day descendant of Wyatt Earp, a hot mess of a woman who gets her life together in order to face the demons and forces of darkness that terrorize her hometown of Purgatory. Wynonna (Scrofano) is joined by her town historian sister, her sister’s police officer girlfriend, a government-sanctioned partner and a resurrected Doc Holliday.
This season put our characters through the wringer. In the wake of Wynonna giving up her baby to keep it safe at the end of season two, we find Wynonna doubling down on her mission to rid the town of demons. Wynonna’s sister, Waverly (Provost-Chalkley), finally settles into her own skin while in her first same-sex relationship, only to find out that her father is a real-life angel. Waverly’s girlfriend, Nicole (Barrell) is forced to deal with a tragic event of her past, as a killer who once spared her life begins killing again in Purgatory. And we’re all going to miss Agent Dolls (Anderson), which gave us some the best ugly-crying causing scenes all year. Next to that jaw-dropping season finale, that is.
Wynonna Earp airs on the Syfy channel and is available for streaming on Hulu.
CAST: Melissa Benoist, Chyler Leigh, Katie McGrath, Odette Annable, Nicole Maines, Mechad Brooks, David Harewood, Sam Witwer and Jesse Rath
Currently, the only solo female lead series in the Arrowverse (fingers crossed on Batwoman), Supergirl is the familiar story of a superpowered alien crash-landing on Earth and becoming one of it’s greatest heroes alongside her sister, who works for a division of the government who manages otherworldly threats. Following the same business plan of it’s predecessors, Arrow and The Flash, Supergirl also has a group of friends who help fight her battles, which usually includes some sort of overall-season Big Bad. It also features regular guest-stars of familiar comic book characters pretty regularly.
At the end of season three, we see Supergirl (Benoist), Alex (Leigh) and Lena (McGrath) join forces for find a cure for their friend, Samantha (Annable) who is trapped in the same body as a deadly Kryptonian named Reign. While Supergirl and Reign have literal knock-down-drag-out fights, Alex and Lena combine their knowledge of science and Kryptonian genetics to devise a plan to separate Sam and Reign into two complete beings. The beginning of season four takes a page from today’s headlines, likening the aliens that have landed on Earth as immigrants who have anti-alien hate groups out to purify the world. This season also introduces us to Nia Nal (Maines), who’s character is based on the superhero Dreamer, who is the first transgender superhero on television and who is also played by a transwoman actress.
Supergirl airs on The CW network and is available for streaming on Netflix.
CAST: Sandra Oh, Jodie Comer, Fiona Shaw, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, Kim Bodnia, Darren Boyd and Owen McDonnell
A British drama produced by BBC America, Killing Eve is based on the Codename Villanelle novella series by Luke Jennings that finds a desk-bound MI5 officer tracks down a talented psychopathic assassin, while both women become increasingly obsessed with each other. Although the first season is just a scant eight episodes, it quickly becomes one of the smartest and well-written cat and mouse games ever presented in a television series, bolstered by it’s two leading ladies, Oh and Comer.
The show is essentially about transformations and becoming the person you want be, no matter who are at the moment. Eve (Oh) is sick of being tied to a desk all day and is restless for some action in the field. She meets hit-girl for hire Villanelle (Comer) through happenstance, which begins a fascinating and twisted relationship between the two women as Villanelle’s body count rises and Eve finds herself a little too close to the case. With award-worthy performances by Oh and Comer, this is a 208 must-see, with a season finale that leaves us begging for season two.
Killing Eve is currently available on BBC America On Demand and streaming on Hulu.
SHE-RA AND THE PRINCESSES OF POWER
VOICE CAST: Aimee Carrero, Karen Fukuhara, AJ Michalka, Reshma Shetty, Marcus Scribner and Lorraine Toussaint
The reboot that no one knew we needed, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power is an updated version of the classic ’80s She-Ra animated series. They both have similar storylines, as Adora is originally raised by the Horde and is extremely close to her childhood friend, Catra. One day, Adora ventures beyond the Horde’s dominion and meets Glimmer and Bo of the Resistance, a small band of heroes fighting against the Horde, who is trying to wipe out their civilization and take over the world. Adora sees the error of her ways and switches sides just as she realizes she’s able to transform into She-Ra, a legendary warrior. This also means that she now has to become mortal enemies with her former best friend, Catra.
While the girl power theme of the original is adapted and built upon even further, the series sets itself apart in a variety of ways. First of all, it’s more inclusive, beginning with the title of the series. There’s equal representation in races, body types and sexual orientation throughout, with the friendship between Adora and Catra having strong lesbian undertones. The first season ends with the culmination of all the Princesses standing together to defeat the Horde and protect their kingdoms. This is the type of cartoon you make sure your children see, because it teaches them about life it teaches them independence and shows an example of the diversity of people they will come across as they get older.
She-Ra and the Princesses of Power is currently streaming on Netflix.
CAST: Lyrica Okano, Virginia Gardner, Ariela Barer, Allegra Acosta, Rhenzy Feliz and Gregg Sulkin
Based on the Marvel comic book of the same name, season two of Runaways was released on Hulu on Dec. 21st, 2018. Building on the mythos of the previous season, we find our group of teenage superheroes still on the run from their villainous parents who have now framed them for murder. Runaways has always stuck close to it’s source material, and it’s sophomore season is no different, as characters like Topher and fan-favorite Xavin debut. This season definitely bumps everything up a notch, the fight scenes are tighter, the pacing is better and they essentially give viewers more of what we loved in the first season.
There are several events that stand out in the season, some are deaths of important characters, some are shocking revelations and some are just quiet moments between two people in a relationship. That’s right, this season everyone has a love interest. Except Molly. Maybe next season. Nico (Okano) and Karolina (Gardner) continue to be the team’s main power couple and emotional center of the group. Gert (Barer) and Chase (Sulkin) are still trying to make their relationship work but run into obstacles, both as a couple and personally. Alex (Felliz) struggles with how far he’ll go to bring his parents to justice, while Molly (Acosta) is just trying to keep her family of friends together. With a finale that includes a Close Encounters Of the Third Kind twist, we can’t wait for season three.
Marvel’s Runaways is currently available for streaming on Hulu.
AMERICAN HORROR STORY: APOCALYPSE
CAST: Sarah Paulson, Adina Porter, Billie Lourd, Leslie Grossman, Emma Roberts, Kathy Bates, Taissa Farmiga, Gabourey Sidibe, Cody Fern, Cheyenne Jackson and Evan Peters
The witches are back! In this much-hyped crossover season, American Horror Story: Apocalypse introduces us to dystopian future following a world-wide nuclear fallout. In true AHS fashion, returning actors play a variety of different characters throughout the season, with Jessica Lange making a couple of very special appearances. The series resurrects (sometimes literally) our favorite coven of witches from Miss Robichaux’s Academy For Exceptional Young Ladies to fight the son of Satan and to undo what has been down to the Earth. The season ties up a lot of lose ends left from the previous seasons, including Murder House and Hotel, with cameos of additional characters from their respective seasons. While the first few episodes set in the future are a little clunky, the series really picks up once the witches appear and doesn’t slow down until the memorable season finale.
As it’s been said in previous seasons, women are the strongest sex, especially when it comes to magic. The surviving witches, led by Cordelia (Paulson), try to work with a group of male warlocks who believe they’ve found the next Supreme in the form of a powerful, but arrogant, boy named Michael. Cordelia and the rest of the witches, including Madison (Roberts), Zoe (Farmiga) and Queenie (Sidibe) prepare for battle against the Son of Satan by tricking him into resurrecting more of their fallen sisters. In an epic showdown during the season finale, we see all of the witches give their lives to stop Michael, except for Mallory (Lourd) the true next Supreme, who is able to travel back in time to kill Michael, therefore saving everyone (along with the world). The feminist overtones of the series are the best parts, including Cordelia’s parting shot at Michael right before she sacrifices herself in which she proclaims, “Satan has one son, but my sisters are legion, Motherf*cker.” We wouldn’t have it any other way.
American Horror Story: Apocalypse is available on FX On Demand and streaming on Hulu.