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Female-Led TV Shows for a Summer Streaming Binge

Summertime isn't just for family vacationing and applying sunscreen voraciously. It's also a great time to catch up on all the great TV shows you missed during the regular season.

While you wait for your favorites to return this fall, we have a few suggestions to keep you occupied this summer.


Image: TV Land

This is one of my new favorite shows. It features a great female-led cast that includes Hillary Duff, the former Lizzy Maguire. The show is about a 40-year-old mother Liza (Sutton Foster) who finds herself divorced and unable to land a job in the cut-throat field of publishing. Liza and her friend, played by Debi Mazar, come up with a plan: she pretends to be 26 years old and immediately lands a job in a publishing house. The show is produced by Darren Star, who brought to life "Sex and The City," and so it has that walk and talk, cool New York City vibe. Patricia Field, also of SATC fame, does the styling, so there's something in it for everyone. Of course, if you are silly romantic (like me) you will enjoy the love story between the main character and her hunky 26-year-old boyfriend, Josh.

Watch it when ... you find yourself missing the early days of your career, this show will remind you how much it sucked to be the one fetching coffee and doing data entry. Episodes are only about 27 minutes, so watch it while the kids build forts in the dining room.

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Frankie and Grace

Image: Netflix

Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin are a dynamic duo in this new Netflix show. Frankie and Grace are forced to start over in their 70s, after their husbands leave them for each other. Frankie and Grace, who had been frenemies for years, develop an unlikely friendship as a result. Meanwhile their ex-husbands, played masterfully by Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston, deal with the aftermath of leaving their marriages and coming out to the world who always knew them as heterosexual. Their four adult children are also hilarious and quirky in their own ways. It is a delight to see stories of women of this age and to see how these families deal with the new dynamic that ensues when they find themselves planning a wedding for their dads.

Watch It When ... you had a tough day with the kids, this will remind you that there are very few things tough women cannot surpass—particularly when we lean on each other.


Image via Prashant Gupta/FX

I accidentally discovered this one night. My partner and I sat in our living, amongst our toddler's toys, watching intently, as it seemed to resemble our existence. "Married" tells the story of a young family with three children, navigating the ins and outs of parenthood—paying for orthodontics, deciding if they want more children, money woes and dealing with the effects children have on a relationship. It addresses what happens once the first years of marriage have been replaced with a sense that our youth is slipping away. We warn you, there are hints of truth in every episode of this show, particularly for those of you with young children living in very expensive cities. In one episode, the couple concludes, "We are renters because owning requires knowing how to fix things." This show gets bonus points for featuring the very funny Jenny Slate as the best friend and the always funny Judy Greer as the main character. A few things I enjoy is the portrayal of a male/female friendship between two married individuals, and the multi-dimensional female characters who are still individuals despite being married with children.

Watch It When: ... You only have a few minutes since the episodes are only 22 minutes long and pack in lots of comedic situations. Stream in on Hulu.

Playing House

Image: USA

This is the story of two childhood friends who decide to raise a baby together. When Emma discovers her husband is cheating and ends her marriage, her BFF gives up a career abroad and moves back to their hometown to help her raise the baby. This show gives us a refreshing look at single-motherhood and female friendship that is not centered on the traditional heterosexual relationship. If you enjoy situational comedy, this is the show for you. Additional laughs are provided by Keegan-Michael Key ("Key & Peele). This show gets bonus points for being written, and produced by the lead actresses Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham. Talk about Girl Power!

Watch it when ... your favorite bestie is free and you can binge watch together. Now Streaming: On Demand and on USAnetwork.com.

Jane the Virgin

Image: The CW

In my childhood home, primetime was for soap opera watching. The sound of "novelas," as they are called in Spanish, filled our living room with drama and intrigue. I thought I was over them until I discovered "Jane the Virgin." Breakout star Gina Rodriguez brings to life a story of a young woman who is accidentally artificially inseminated. Based on a Latin-American soap opera, the story is complex but never dull or predictable. Watch as Jane the Virgin navigates telling her conservative grandmother she is a virgin and having a married man's baby. No soap opera is complete without a villain, and Jane the Virgin has a few of note.

Watch it when ... the kids go to sleep early, and you have two hours to kill.(OK, that never happens. Just squeeze it in, you won't regret it.) Warning: it will be hard to stop at just two episodes. Now Streaming: On Hulu and On Demand


Image: Lifetime

Lifetime just created a new, juicy show that might just be the distraction you need this summer. If you are a fan of "The Bachelor" TV franchise, this show will be up your alley. If you like to hate-watch, like I sometimes do, then you will definitely love this fictionalized version of what goes on behind the scenes of shows that promise "true" love. Shiri Appleby of Roswell fame brings to life a character that is equal parts complex and conniving in her role as producer of a show where intrigue and lies make for good television.

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Watch it when ... you're exhausted from a day at the zoo with the kids. Your life will feel less chaotic in comparison to everything that is going on in the lives of the suitor and the women trying to win his love. Now Streaming: On Demand and mylifetime.com

OK, happy streaming!

P.S. We are not responsible for hours lost binge watching these television shows.

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