Entertainment Recommendations

Part of our mission is seeking out and analyzing popular culture about women and science. More often than not, we are disappointed by most offerings in this area, but we have written about a few standout examples. Below is a list of Lady Science-approved television, film, and fiction.  


Television

Call The Midwife (BBC)

The series follows the life and work of a group of midwives who serve the working-class community of Poplar in the East End of London in the late 1950’s. The premise is based on a series of memoirs by Jennifer Worth recalling her own experiences as a midwife. Importantly for us, Call the Midwife tells women’s stories. Their stories aren’t filtered through the experiences of men or progressive stories of history. (From Anna’s review, November 2014)

Halt and Catch Fire (AMC)

The notion that computing in the 80s was completely dominated by men is not wholly undone by AMC’s series Halt and Catch Fire, even though the show seems to be trying to invest its version of history with the contributions of women. Two of the four main characters are women, both of whom are allowed to be dynamic and interesting as often as they can get around the stereotyping of the show’s initial setup. This show has redeemed itself in the second season, which focuses on the way Donna and Cameron run the new game company Mutiny, and pushes back against much of what we found problematic in the first season. (Read Anna’s first review here)

The Bletchley Circle (PBS)

 …the brilliantly executed The Bletchley Circle (TBC) is more than just another entertaining historical drama with a science-y premise. It is also a carefully crafted and powerful commentary on classism, sexism, and violence against women in postwar England. I love TBC for its nuanced portrayal of the multifarious ways in which the women empower themselves while navigating the casual misogyny of the postwar era. I love that the series celebrates collaboration and teamwork and the ingenuity of women. I love that they solve the mystery. You should, too. (From Joy Rankin’s review, July 2015)

Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries (Australian Broadcasting Company)

Culturally embedded ideas about designated male and female spaces, gender norms, and female sexuality are all bound up with how the crime procedural and detective fiction are constructed. Instead of blindly pulling on these ideas from culture, MFMM brings them to the fore, criticizes them, and often subverts them...More than just representing complex female characters that transgress gender norms all over the place, MFMM also illustrates the importance of putting women in positions of authority, especially in cases involving women and gender dynamics. (From Leila's review, January 2016)

Fiction

“The Concequest of Gola” by Leslie F. Stone (Wonder Stories, 1931)

In the story, Gola, a matriarchal planet ruled by female aliens, is under siege by human men from Earth who seek to colonize it… Stone would have us imagine a place where patriarchy was replaced with a matriarchy all the while pointing out the absurdity of the inequalities among the sexes and the injustices of colonialism. (From Leila’s review, August 2015)

Lilith’s Brood Series by Octavia Butler (1989)

[Butler] tears down sex and gender relationships as we know them and forces her readers to reimagine sex and gender as something more fluid and complex…Butler pushes us even farther by challenging s to think outside the gender binary to which so many don’t conform. Ultimately, what these stories do is reveal how deeply gender orders our world, establishing systems where inequalities are primed to flourish. (From Leila’s review, August 2015) 

2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson (2012)

The book is a sweeping portrait of the future that sees humans settling the farthest reaches of the solar system, terraforming whole planets and transforming their bodies, venturing into the complexity and contradiction of quantum computing, and wielding their technology as gods to extend their lives and health and to change ecology of the entire solar system…But it is also a powerful meditation on privilege and difference, activism and social responsibility, and a masterclass in writing complex, engaging women characters. (From Anna’s review, August 2015)