Good Girls gone bad: The rise of the television antiheroine


There’s a new crop of shows, like Good Girls and Claws, that showcase women doing the wrong things for all the right reasons and we’re loving it.

With the modern-day success of superhero movies, the days of lead female characters playing damsels in distress have all but vanished at the cinema. However, until recently, the television landscape hasn’t been so lucky when it comes to relatable female protagonists.

Flawed female leads have been sprinkled throughout networks from time to time, such as How to Get Away With Murder‘s Annalise Keating or House of Cards‘ Claire Underwood, but we are only just now seeing a real moment in television history where antiheroines are bringing in the ratings for many networks and streaming platforms.

The series that really got the ball rolling was TNT’s Claws, which debuted in June of 2017, originally pitched as the female version of the popular acclaimed show Breaking Bad. It follows the lives of a group of feisty nail technicians who suddenly find themselves in the world of organized crime when they start laundering money for the Dixie Mafia.

Niecy Nash stars as the charismatic main character and shop owner, Desna Simms, who is just trying to make ends meet while taking care of her severely autistic brother Dean, played by Harold Perrineau. The stellar supporting cast is rounded out by Jenn Lyon, Judy Reyes, Carrie Preston and Karrueche Tran, who play closer to family members than co-workers. While Desna and her crew dabble in illegal activities, each one has a good, and mostly relatable, reason as to why they’re doing it.

Another excellent example of this type of show is NBC’s Good Girls, which premiered in February of 2018 and follows a trio of suburban mothers, two of whom are sisters, who are having a hard time making ends meet. Tired of having everything taken away from them, the women rob a local grocery store for money but end up with more than they bargained for when confronted by a criminal who uses the store as a money laundering business. Christina Hendricks, Retta and Mae Whitman comprise the main cast, each of them giving nuanced performances on a weekly basis.

Following this trend?

The CW’s In the Dark, a drama about a drunken mess of a woman who is blind but tries to get her life together long enough to find out what happened to her missing friend.

There’s Hulu’s Shrill, which follows the exploits of a plus-size journalist who gets tired of being minimized by society and starts standing up for herself.

And, of course, HBO’s Insecure which finds two friends navigating life and love, along with social and racial issues relating to the contemporary black experience.

It’s refreshing to see these shows as just that — shows. There is more than one antiheroine we can watch right now on television, and they’re all beautifully flawed, interesting, and unique women we’d watch over and over again.

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Have an antiheroine of your own you love watching on the big or small screen? Let us know in the comments!