Go ahead and recall the best TV shows you watched in 2017. Chances are, a lot of them were created by, helmed by or focused on women.
Just ask Reese Witherspoon: “It’s been an incredible year for women in television,” the actress said onstage at the Emmys in September while accepting the outstanding limited series award for “Big Little Lies.” “Bring women to the front of their own stories!”
The HBO series -- which won eight Emmys and is nominated for Critics’ Choice, SAG and Golden Globe awards in January -- is just one of the female-led shows that sparked chatter, inspired change and left us longing for more in 2017. Some, like “The Handmaid’s Tale” even went as far as to incite political protests around the country.
Below, we take a look at seven new women-fronted shows that introduced influential characters to the world this past year.
'The Handmaid’s Tale'
Hulu's take on Margaret Atwood's dystopian novel of the same name -- which introduced us to Offred (Elisabeth Moss) and Ofglen (Alexis Bledel), among others -- depicted a world where women are forced into surrogacy. The gripping, Emmy-winning tale led many viewers and publications to draw parallels between fiction and reality. It sparked a movement of protests across the country. Throughout the spring, women showed up dressed as "handmaids" at state capitol buildings in Texas, New York, California, Ohio and Tennessee to speak out about women's reproductive rights.
'Big Little Lies'
Give us a miniseries fronted by Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Shailene Woodley, Laura Dern and Zoe Kravitz and expect us not to want more? The HBO tale of a murder in the close-knit community of Monterey, California, won eight Emmys this year, helping it get picked up for a second season. "Big Little Lies" dove deeper than focusing solely on the drama among privileged housewives. It gave these female voices an unwavering strength in the face of sexual and physical abuse. Continuing to ride the wave of success months after its finale aired in April, the series is up for six Golden Globe awards, including best miniseries.
These women kick ass. Literally. The comedy from the "Orange Is the New Black" team debuted on Netflix in May, and while the title stands for "Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling," this '80s period piece was all about the force. Alison Brie, who starred as the lead Ruth, described her character as "unconventional" as in "not meant to be conventionally attractive," in an interview with Vulture. The series was met with rave reviews. "'GLOW' is about female empowerment, and couldn't be otherwise, but there's a little more going on -- female relationships, and the unique ties that bind, even when frayed by a patriarchy that profits from fraying them," Newsday critic Verne Gay wrote.
'The Bold Type'
The NYC-set Freeform original starring Katie Stevens, Aisha Dee and Meghann Fahy gave us a trio of millennials who care about their careers, chat openly about sexuality and find a voice in the nation's social and political movements. Though it's not racking up any awards, the series was a fresh new look for the network, which lost its female-fronted "Pretty Little Liars" earlier this year. "Bold Type" ditched the "Devil Wears Prada" stereotypes surrounding women in the workplace and instead showed a group helmed by an empowering editor-in-chief, played by Melora Hardin. It's already been picked up for a second and third season.
'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel'
A female comedian in NYC ... in the '50s? The creators of "Gilmore Girls," Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino, gave us just that. Midge (Rachel Brosnahan) is at the center of the Amazon original, but for the true female force, turn to Gaslight Cafe comedy booker Susie (Alex Borstein). Susie ditched the traditional garb of a '50s housewife, earned a living (if you can call it that) and tirelessly tried to get her first client, Midge, her time in the spotlight. The series was picked up for a second season in April, before the first even dropped on the streaming service, and it is entering its first award season strong with two Golden Globe and three Critics' Choice nods.
'She’s Gotta Have It'
Granted, Spike Lee gave us Nola Darling back in 1986, but the reinvented character in his Netflix series remake is worth visiting. The New York Times called the self-described "sex-positive, Polyamorous, pansexual" show Lee's "feminist breakthrough."
"Godless" faced some feedback from viewers that claimed it wasn't entirely the "feminist Western" they had hoped for, but reviewers still saw the Netflix miniseries as a breakthrough for the genre. After a mine explosion in La Belle, New Mexico, kills every man in town, the women drop their stereotypical gender roles and take command.