If there’s one thing sorority women are, it’s powerful. As members of Greek life, it is our responsibility to hold ourselves accountable for creating a lifestyle that embraces inclusivity and continuous learning. Growing up, I remember how I felt seeing women being portrayed on-screen as secondary characters, when in fact, women are multi-dimensional and strong. The increase of main characters who identify as female in the Hollywood film industry has definitely been on the rise, allowing us as young women to see more representation of different cultures and diverse experiences on television.
Here are six Netflix shows with strong female leads that should be on every sorority woman’s watchlist this summer:
Hold on to your capes, sheroes! This is one of the most successful DC Universe productions, with Glee actress, Melissa Benoist, playing the show’s protagonist, Kara Zor-El. In this exciting, action-filled show, Kara Danver grows up hiding the fact that yes-she’s actually cousins with Superman! Working for media mogul Cat Grant, sweet Kara is enlisted to use her hidden powers to protect the citizens of National City from an array of mysterious supervillains. This is perfect for those looking to get their action/adventure, fantasy fix!
Self-Made: Inspired By The Life of Madam C.J. Walker
I watched this biographical-drama, limited series with my family while in quarantine, and was instantly blown away by Octavia Spencer’s performance as Madam C.J. Walker, the first female millionaire in America. The series begins by showcasing her struggle with both her physical appearance and racial injustice in the early 1900s. It follows the true story of how Madam C.J. Walker invented specialized hair products for Black women, and faced sexism while pursuing her dreams and growing her business. I cried, laughed, and felt my heart burst with both admiration and inspiration. I highly recommend checking this show out, as it’s both inspiring and gives power to a Black perspective, which is really needed right now.
The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
This hilarious and bubbly show was recommended to me by my friend from a different sorority, just proving that Panhel love is SO real. It’s about this 29-year-old woman Kimmy, who just spent the last 15 years trapped in an underground cult, and decides to live out her colorful life of freedom in the best place for spontaneous adventures… you guessed it, New York City! This show has such an array of diverse characters, from Kimmy’s caring yet flamboyant roommate Titus, to her rich new boss, Jacqueline. It never gets boring, inserting social issues throughout the show, as well as just exploring the concept of growing up and finding yourself in the world.
Dead To Me
This dark comedy is as raw and passionate as they come. I just started watching it a week ago, and am obsessed! Dead To Me focuses on the “weirdly funny” sides of grief and forgiveness, following two very different women, Jen (Christina Applegate) and Judy (Linda Cardellini). The two protagonists meet in a grief support group after Jen’s husband is tragically killed in a hit-and-run accident, and become the unlikeliest of friends as they navigate how to deal with inexplicable loss and still find a way to move forward. This show is shocking and entertaining and full to the brim with secrets. I can honestly say I’m hooked!
One Day At a Time
This show is one of my favorites, scoring a 99% on Rotten Tomatoes! It’s a remake of Normal Lear’s sitcom from the 1970s, gaining positive reviews from critics. This comedy-drama show covers societal topics such as LGBTQ+ rights, immigration, racism, and sexism, all while focusing on a fun and multi-dimensional Cuban-American family living in Los Angeles. Justina Machado is breath-taking in her performance as Penelope, a single mother working as a nurse, dealing with her PTSD as an Army Veteran, while also creating an accepting and loving home for her two kids, and old-fashioned, elderly mother. This show reminded me of growing up in my family of immigrants-turned-citizens and learning to balance two worlds while creating my own destiny. It’s such an empowering story, and definitely binge-worthy!
This popular show is definitely a cult favorite in my sorority chapter! I can literally just imagine my sisters’ faces in the library, taking a “study break” to watch a quick episode of Grey’s while studying for bio. One thing I admire about this show is Shonda Rhime’s unpredictability as a writer. Another thing I love about this show is the natural dynamic between best friends, Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) and Christina Yang (Sandra Oh). Meredith is fierce in her bravery in always following her heart. Meanwhile, Christina breaks the stereotype of your typical “Asian” character, bringing spice and passion to the game. Nevertheless, the two lean on each other for sisterhood and deep support as they struggle and persevere as young doctors at Seattle Grace Mercy West Hospital.
Bonus: The Half Of It
Okay, so I know this is a Netflix Original movie and not a T.V. show, but please hear me out. This coming-of-age film was written and directed by Alice Wu, and quickly became an instant hit, even though it was just released in May! The Half Of It is about an introverted protagonist, Ellie Chu, who helps Paul, a popular jock, write love letters to his crush, who she also secretly likes. She also struggles with coming out to her widowed Asian father, whom she loves very much. This story deals with topics ranging from LGBTQ+, socioeconomic status, and family. As an Asian-American woman, I loved seeing the combination of American identity and Asian roots!
Overall, media representation is so important in order to create multi-dimensionality in society. Nobody deserves to belong to one stereotype, and the lack of inclusivity of female characters in popular culture can cause damage to how young girls and women see themselves. We are taught from mainstream media at a young age to view each other as competition, but in reality, we are more powerful when we lift each other up rather than bring each other down. That’s why it’s important to feel seen and celebrate each other by supporting diverse female characters on-screen, and why we should encourage other women (and also men!) to do the same.
It’s important to broaden our horizons, especially by choosing to educate ourselves about prominent societal issues by diversifying what we stream. I hope these hand-picked Netflix shows prove to be both enjoyable and educational, and that you have fun watching them!
Xx, Maria Cieslarczyk
Saint Louis University, Kappa Alpha Theta