Just days after sending Supergirl off to The CW for its sophomore season, CBS passed on a Nancy Drew adaptation despite it testing well with audiences — all because it was “too female,” reports Deadline.
CBS has embarrassingly few female-driven shows, despite the fact that just over half of the population — and thus, the potential audience — is female. And it’s not just CBS; pretty much every major network and studio has an apparent blindness to women and their potential to be some of the greatest heroes. In a world that’s insatiably hungry for heroic characters, it’s nothing short of baffling that more networks aren’t boarding the female heroes train.
From Buffy Summers to Sarah Manning, TV has enjoyed some seriously kickass women, and relatively recent additions like Wynonna Earp, Jessica Jones and Supergirl are proving that there’s always room for more badass women on television.
Let’s take a look at a few of the best female heroes leading television.
With a stellar ensemble that’s 80 percent Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black has more than one woman taking on the mantle of heroism in the Clone Club’s mission to take down Dyad, Neolutionists and whoever else threatens one of their own. Though they share the same face, Orphan Black’s female characters are rich, complex, individual and the driving force behind the show.
Marvel’s Jessica Jones
The Netflix Original Series spent its first season exploring the title hero’s mission to take down Kilgrave, a mind-controlling abuser and all-around a-hole. Jones is surly and wasn’t created for the sake of being likable. She’s got shit to do, booze to drink and a murderer to catch — she doesn’t have time to worry about whether or not people think she’s abrasive, shrill, bossy or difficult to get along with, and that’s a big part of what makes her a refreshing addition to the world of heroes on television.
Also based on a comic book, Wynonna Earp is a supernatural modern western that follows Wyatt Earp’s great-great granddaughter, Wynona, as she works to take out the Revenants haunting her hometown and put the Earp Curse to bed. Wynonna and her sister Waverly team up with the U.S. Marshals’ Black Badge Division and take out one Revenant after another with the help of donuts, whiskey and a big fucking gun dubbed Peacemaker. It’s magnificently, unapologetically female, inclusive as hell and full of badass women.
Though it’s recently been relocated to The CW after a first season at CBS, Supergirl has been an important addition to the world of female heroes on television. Supergirl wasn’t created and isn’t necessarily written for the same people who love The Flash or Arrow or even Jessica Jones. Instead, Supergirl is deeply important for an audience of younger girls who need to see a kind, brave, occasionally-a-bit-of-a-mess hero like Kara Danvers.
Season 3 of The 100 has felt very different from the show’s first two seasons, but unchanged is the fact that Clarke Griffin is the heart and soul of the show. Selfless, fair-minded and willing to do whatever it takes to keep her people safe, Clarke is heroic even when she’s forced to make deadly decisions in order to save lives.
Marvel’s Agent Carter
Peggy Carter doesn’t have superpowers, but she’s definitely a hero worthy of her spot in the Marvel Universe. Though ABC just cancelled the show after its second season, Marvel’s Agent Carter was well-loved by critics and fans even if it didn’t put up the numbers needed to stick around on network television. Agent Carter was fantastically feminine and did a beautiful job of clever, conspiratorial finger-pointing at the sexism that women faced and still face in the world around us as she tackled threats with grace, style and class. We’ll miss you, Peggy.
For five seasons, Lost Girl let us tag along on the adventures of Bo Dennis, a bisexual succubus with a heroic streak a mile wide. Bo, Kenzi, Lauren and Tamsin were all fantastically heroic in different ways, and the dynamic between the show’s many strong, complex female characters is a big part of what made Lost Girl so much fun — and so different from everything else on TV.
A private investigator like Jessica Jones but without the superhuman strength, Veronica Mars was committed to truth and justice, even when it was difficult and unpopular. Smart, unwavering and uncompromising, Mars had a total stick-to-your guns attitude that we don’t see often enough from women on television.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
A female hero that inspired many during and after her time on air, Buffy Summers showed us that underestimating a girl with a stake is pretty much the stupidest thing a vampire can do. Buffy was about friendship, bravery, kindness and being a badass when people don’t give you enough credit.
Xena: Warrior Princess
Xena was constant proof that women are warriors and that you really shouldn’t send a man to do a woman’s job: fighting evil. Though the original Xena purportedly avoided acknowledging the relationship between Xena and Gabrielle in the name of keeping Kevin Smith’s Ares on the show, the new Xena reboot in the works may very well look to keep the strong female characters and narratives, but also to explore the relationship that was overlooked in the ‘90s.