HBO's "Girls" and broadcast sitcoms like "The Mindy Project" and "The New Girl" push the envelope on female representations on television, but they aren't the only ones in the game of bringing complicated depictions of women to your screen.
Online stories about women are quite rich as well and have been for years. A year after "lonelygirl15" rose to fame by giving geek boys their ultimate cam girl, Felicia Day's "The Guild" delivered a counter-punch: a serious awkward, geek girl, a trend that persists today. Major networks put women at the center of genre stories, as NBC did with "Gemini Division" and MTV did with "Valemont." Indie creators build out niches: "Anyone But Me"'s told the story of serious teen girls who were very seriously in love. "Awkward Black Girl" gave black women a complicated lead before "Scandal," and with natural hair to boot.
And now that we have to wait a few months until Lena Dunham and friends are back on HBO, it's the perfect time to catch up on the best in female-centric web series today. Here are 14 of the best.
True to its title, "Broad City" is just that: Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer, the show's creators, play versions of themselves in a broad comedy about broads in the city. The series explores everything from getting back into pot and competing with boys to the specificities of living in New York, like the elusive in-apartment washer/dryer and hassles of the commute. Anchoring the show are Jacobson and Glazer, real-life friends whose chemistry shines through. Glazer is a bit spunkier, Jacobson more reserved. The slight contrast gives "Broad City" its lightness, and their kinship shines through as clearly as the girls on "Living Single" or "Sex and the City."
Chloe and Zoe
These broads are not quite so endearing. Chloe and Zoë are the suburban ne'er-do-wells to Abbi and Ilana urban adventurers. Chloe and Zoë, played by creators Chloe Searcy and Zoë Worth, rarely try to hard, and spend most of the series trying to find happiness in work and love (mostly love). Of course, since "Chloe and Zoë"'s a comedy, they mostly fail, and along the way there's some collateral damage.
"East WillyB" is a sitcom about the gentrification of Bushwick. Co-written by Julia Grob and Yamin Segal, the show is anchored by Willy, a Puerto Rican owner of bar in the neighborhood, but it co-stars Cece, Willy's bartender and one of few working-class lesbian Latinas on television. Cece is no-bullshit, as bartenders tend to be, but the show's first season starts her on a journey to find her birth mother. "East WillyB" at its heart is about human vulnerability amidst uncontrollable tides of the market, friends and family. Can Cece find peace?
As Cece's search for self leads to her to family, Farrah's takes her to hip hop. "Famous Farrah" is a spry comedy about an infectious disease researcher who is bored with her life. Her boyfriend is nice, if a little dumb and crude. Her job is fine, if dull (and under threat). After an unplanned night of binge-drinking and strip-clubbing on her birthday, Farrah gets recruited to join a hip hop group, Cake Boyz. An awkward nerd, Farrah can't dance or rap, at least not at first. Can she reinvent herself? "Famous Farrah" is unlike any show I've seen, and its diverse cast make it all the fresh.
F to 7th
With network executives out of the way, web series can explore sharp stories like this comedic treatise of identity for Ingrid Jungermann. Jungermann is best known at the co-creator of "The Slope" (with former partner Desiree Akhavan), a sitcom about "superficial homophobic lesbians." "F to 7th" retains that irreverence but asks a different questions: what does it mean to be a woman? Specifically, a butch lesbian? Through interactions with family (Amy Sedaris plays her sister) and friends (including Michael Showalter, Gaby Hoffman and Ann Carr), Ingrid slowly learns who she is. It all leads up to the superb finale, "Intersex," in which she fucks herself.