My Female Produced Faves
Recent female produced shows like Killing Eve, I May Destroy You and Fleabag have reached huge numbers of viewers. They are frequently highlighted for their female-fronted casts and crews. I would like to point out something that comedian, screenwriter and producer Aisling Bea wore on a T-Shirt. “FEMALE IS NOT A GENRE”. Despite the title of this article, I would like to acknowledge the diversity between these shows and to celebrate women finally getting a go at representing themselves.
So here are some of my favourite recent female produced British TV shows.
This Way Up
Aisling Bea wrote and produced This Way Up with Sharon Horgan. This Way Up explores Aine’s struggle to find happiness after a ‘teeny little nervous breakdown’. Bea plays an Irish woman living in London teaching English as a foreign language. Her writing is witty and endearing. My favourite part of the show is its handling of loneliness and shame around feeling lonely. Her honest portrayal is refreshing. There is no false brightness to the London she depicts and there is no pretence of a happy ending. Instead there is restlessness, imperfect relationships and well-timed humour. Aisling Bea hits the nail on the head when it comes to representing mental health. I think This Way Up is a must-watch.
Mae Martin recently publicly came out as nonbinary, they/them and she/her and sometimes gender dysphoric. I felt it was important to still give Feel Good a place on this list because of the way it tackles female gender identity. Also because British TV hasn’t diversified to the extent where I could make a whole nonbinary produced list – hopefully one day soon. Additionally, the majority of the producers here are female. Comedian Mae Martin plays a version of themself and stars alongside Charlotte Richie and Lisa Kudrow. This show explores addiction, sexuality and gender identity. The mother-daughter relationship depicted between Martin and Kudrow is skilfully executed. Mae’s intense, addictive personality is intimate as well as heart wrenching. Feel Good also has enough humour to make the more difficult subjects digestible. Fortunately, it has been renewed for a second season and is currently in production in London.
I Hate Suzie
Billie Piper and Lucy Prebble created and produced I Hate Suzie which follows actress Suzie’s (Billie Piper’s) life after private photos are leaked online. It is spread over eight episodes, each named after one of the eight stages of grief and it captures each emotion so viscerally that it is quite exhausting to watch. When Suzie’s public image is marked by the scandal her whole image comes into question. The show emphasises how women are almost always punished more heavily for these types of scandals. Towards the end of the series Suzie says to her infuriating husband that she has to ‘live being whatever you need me to be’ so that he can ‘feel big and strong and okay’. The show portrays the frustrations and disparities of female experience. It is maddening, but this show is skillful and funny and a worthwhile watch.
With names like Sharon Horgan and Holly Walsh on the writing credits, Motherland is a hilarious, if a little stressful watch. It depicts middle-class motherhood through the character of Julia’s life. We almost never see Julia’s husband on screen, but mostly hear him on the phone. This makes a hilarious trope out of the unequal division of labour in a family setting. The characters are hilarious, with Liz (Dianne Morgan) being the overwhelming favourite for most viewers. She is chaotic and ostracised from most of the other mothers but creates some of my favourite moments in the show. Motherland began in 2016 but came back at the end of 2020 for a much-anticipated Christmas Special.
In My Skin
This show was created by Kayleigh Llewellyn and female produced with great female leads. Set in Cardiff, teenager Bethan struggles to tell the truth about her home life and sexuality for fear of rejection by her peers. In My Skin is darkly comic about the struggle for identity in a hostile school environment. It is heavy, tackling subjects such as bipolar, alcoholism and homophobia. However, it is a worthwhile watch and the Welsh lingo brightens the darkest of subject matter. The programme was initially meant to be a short film but was commissioned into a whole series, with a second series on the way.
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