12 TV Shows About Female Friendship That Pass the Bechdel Test
Sorry, boys are not allowed.
Growing up, TV was mostly used as a way to entertain oneself. Most people probably weren’t as mindful of the cringe-worthy storylines, one-dimensional characters, and lack of diversity that was, unfortunately, part of the norm before the early 2000s. But while the entertainment industry still has a lot of work to do, there seems to be a positive shift happening when it comes to female-led shows. Most are finally passing the Bechdel test, aka a test that analyzes a scene where two or more women talk about anything else other than men.
In 1985, American cartoonist Alison Bechdel included the idea for the Bechdel test (also known as the Bechdel–Wallace test) in a comic strip called The Rule. She later also attributed the idea to her friend Liz Wallace and to Virginia Woolf’s writings. For a movie or TV show to pass the test, it has to feature at least two women talking to each other about a topic other than a man. Seems simple enough, right? Wrong. Even shows that are deemed “feminist” sometimes don’t pass the test—and, frankly, it’s frustrating.
So if you want to watch a TV show that passes the Bechdel test and shows the full picture of what it means to be a woman, try turning on one of these TV shows about female friendship below.
The Bold Type
Ler’s kick things off with a choice that surely won’t disappoint. Sutton, Kat, and Jane are rising HBICs (aka head bitches in charge) in their industries. The series begins with the three of them working at Scarlett magazine (inspired by Cosmopolitan), and four seasons later, they’re still best friends and bonafide badasses. Yes, there’s boy drama and girl drama (Kat identifies as bisexual), but the show isn’t about romantic relationships—it’s about friendships.
If you’ve never seen Workin’ Moms, stop what you’re doing right now, open Netflix, and cue up an episode ASAP. This Canadian-made comedy about friends navigating motherhood will have you laughing out loud. It doesn’t matter what age you are or if you have kids or not, because it’s that good.
There’s a 99% chance you’ve seen at least one episode of Broad City. If you haven’t, then you’re missing out on the creative genius that is Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson. The actresses, who play characters of the same first names, started the show as a web series that was later picked up by Comedy Central. The twentysomething BFFs navigate life in New York City while getting into the most bizarre yet weirdly relatable situations. They’re the kind of friends you can share all your embarrassing moments with because they’ve seen (and done) it all.
There aren’t enough shows that embrace female insecurities. Women are not always these well-dressed, confident, and successful creatures; sometimes we’re just uncomfortable in our own skin. Issa Rae embodies all of these qualities in her character, Issa. The dramedy follows Issa, her best friend Molly, and their other girlfriends as they navigate life in Los Angeles. You’ll fall in love with these badass Black women who just…get it.
Dead to Me
Alright, now we’re heading into the darker category. As the title lets on, Dead to Me isn’t a light-hearted show. That doesn’t mean it’s not funny, though! Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini form an unlikely friendship over, well, the death of Applegate’s late husband.
Big Little Lies
Big Littles Lies also brings drastically different women together who have one thing in common: Their kids are in the same class. The show takes place in the beautiful town of Monterey, California, and follows three moms: Madeline, Celeste, and Jane. It covers domestic violence, marriage hardships, and the misconception of perfection. Basically, there’s a lot to talk about other than men.
Yes, Good Girls is about three women who find themselves caught in an organized crime ring—yet it’s not that dark (except for a few scenes). It shows what women can do when they’re on the same side with the same goal. And, apparently, successfully robbing banks is one of the things they can accomplish together.
People tend to have strong feelings about the Lena Dunham-created comedy. Did it miss the mark on some topics? Absolutely. Should it be dismissed entirely? Definitely not. The best part about Girls is that the characters aren’t that likable. They’re flawed, complicated, and sometimes make horrible decisions. It’s authentic to life, and they’re all trying to make their way in New York. So, love them or hate them, you can probably relate to at least one of them.
Hilary Duff? Books? New York? Yes, please. Younger is a marathon-worthy series about a fortysomething who pretends to be in her twenties in order to break back into publishing. Spoiler alert: Her secret doesn’t stay a secret, and when her real age is revealed, she has to figure out how to repair broken relationships. It’s a good thing that she has good friends to help her do it.
If you need a reminder of how strong women are, then turn on Glow. The show is set in the world of ’80s women’s wrestling and follows an out-of-work actress who decides to achieve fame by wrestling. There’s glitter, spandex, and a lot of fighting. What’s not to love?
Pen15 might give you flashbacks to being a preteen. If you ever wondered what it would be like if thirtysomething women pretended to be middle school-aged girls, well, you don’t need to wonder anymore! Creators, writers, and stars Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle portray versions of themselves in the year 2000. There are braces, acne, and lots of humiliating moments.
HBO’s teen show Euphoria shocked viewers with its extremely adult storylines. Sex and drugs are a large part of the show, but so are friendships, as Rue, Jules, Lexi, Kat, Cassie, and Maddy dominate the series. Now, that’s not to say that they’re all friends or even that their relationships are all healthy. But the show is very, very real. Euphoria doesn’t shy away from topics that would never have been included in a teen show ten years ago. That’s what makes it unique.