The 10 Best Miniseries featuring women


Content Warning: The following article contains discussions of sexual assault, and drug and alcohol addiction.

The drama miniseries Inventing Anna premiered earlier this year to mixed reviews, quickly becoming a polarizing subject among fans and critics alike. Julia Garner masterfully plays the lead role of Anna Sorokin, who’s a memorable female protagonist who cons her way into New York’s elite circles.

There are several other female-led miniseries worth checking out for those who want to see well-written and often strong women being at the center of the story. These short TV shows are almost always known for their fascinating narratives and empowering messages delivered through incredible performances by their talented cast.

Inventing Anna (2022)

Available to stream on Netflix.

Inventing Anna is a miniseries inspired by the real-life bewildering case of a con artist known as Anna Sorokin. The show depicts how she creates the fake identity of a German heiress, coming up with the name Anna Delvey to match her story. The divisive series portrays Anna’s wild story arc through the journalist Vivian Kent’s (Anna Chlumsky) experiences while interviewing her before her trial.

Vivian’s personal story can often be just as interesting as Anna’s, and she isn’t the only other prominent female character in the show either. Anna’s friends – Kacy Duke (Laverne Cox), Rachel Williams (Katie Lowes), and Neff Davis (Alexis Floyd) – all get their moment in the spotlight as they recount their tales about the fraudster.

The Queen’s Gambit (2020)

Available to stream on Netflix.

Based on the 1983 novel of the same name, The Queen’s Gambit revolves around the life of Beth Harmon (played by Anya Taylor-Joy), an orphan who becomes a chess prodigy at a young age. As she enters the competitive chess world, problems from her past threaten to stop her quick progression to the top.

Beth’s portrayal as a flawed character who is still hurting from the painful experiences of her childhood makes it easy to sympathize with her. As her drug and alcohol addiction worsens, more details from her tragic past come to the surface, making the entire limited series riveting from start to finish.

Little Fires Everywhere (2020)

Available to stream on Hulu.

When Elena Richardson (Reese Witherspoon) rents property to the enigmatic artist Mia Warren (Kerry Washington) and her daughter in Little Fires Everywhere, everything changes for the Richardsons’ picture-perfect family. Things between them escalate fast after Elena uncovers disturbing secrets about her tenant’s past, which soon bleed into her own life and relationship with her daughter.

Based on the 2017 novel of the same name, the binge-able show on Hulu limited series has no shortage of gripping twists and turns. As Elena and Mia’s lives become increasingly tangled, daring questions about motherhood, identity, and art are raised.

Sharp Objects (2018)

Available to stream on HBO Max.

Based on the 2006 novel of the same name, Sharp Objects tells the story of Camille Preaker (Amy Adams), a disillusioned reporter who goes back to her hometown of Wind Gap, Missouri to cover the murders of two girls. In the process, she has to confront her overly critical mother, Adora Crellin (Patricia Clarkson), whose presence brings back uncomfortable memories for the protagonist.

The psychological thriller miniseries can often feel like a horror movie, with its dark atmosphere and gritty scenes that become more intense as Camille’s psyche is explored further. A highlight of the show is the messy relationship between her and her mother, which threatens to unravel everything Camille has worked to forget.

Unbelievable (2019)

Available to stream on Netflix.

Often cited alongside the best miniseries on Netflix, Unbelievable is based on a true story about a teenager named Marie Adler (played by Kaitlyn Dever) who has a difficult time getting authorities to believe she was raped. Det. Grace Rasmussen (Toni Collette) and Det. Karen Duvall (Merritt Wever) eventually realize that her case fits a pattern that could be connected to just one perpetrator.

The true crime show sets itself apart from others in the genre by focusing on the victims. The psychological and emotional effects of being told she made it up take their toll on Marie. Aside from its raw depiction of these victims’ experiences, the detectives’ investigation becomes more engrossing as they uncover details about the mysterious criminal.

Maid (2021)

Available to stream on Netflix.

When Alex (Margaret Qualley) courageously leaves her abusive boyfriend in Maid, she ends up having to deal with finding a place to sleep and a way to make money, all while taking care of her young child. The limited series chronicles her time in a domestic violence center and her new job working for Value Maids.

Along the way, the miniseries explores the protagonist’s interactions with her dysfunctional family, as well as her troubles navigating the government’s red tape. It is as much about the problems that victims encounter as it is about Alex’s personal journey, with poignant moments highlighting her past and her old dream of becoming a writer.

Alias Grace (2017)

Available to stream on Netflix.

Based on the 1996 novel of the same name, Alias Grace tells the story of Grace Marks (Sarah Gadon), an Irish immigrant and domestic servant who has been accused of murdering her employer and his housekeeper. While serving her prison term, Dr. Simon Jordan (Edward Holcroft), a psychiatrist, approaches her to learn more details about the crime.

As their conversations progress, it becomes clear that Grace may have some form of amnesia, but even she admits that she is hesitant to learn about the details of that gruesome night. Her bizarre case soon gets the attention of external forces in town who seek to determine exactly what her role is in the murders.

Unorthodox (2020)

Available to stream on Netflix.

Based on the true story of Deborah Feldman, Unorthodox is a renowned international TV show that revolves around the experiences of 19-year-old Esty Shapiro (Shira Haas) who is part of the Satmar sect of the ultra-Orthodox community in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York City. When she decides to run away to Berlin to try and live a secular life, she’s chased by her husband, who’s ordered by their rabbi to bring her back.

As Esty realizes just how much more there is to life than what she has been taught, she begins to embrace her newfound home and friends. It’s a far cry from the unhappy arranged marriage she had back in New York, but she has to fight to keep her freedom.

The Honourable Woman (2014)

The Honourable Woman is an award-winning miniseries centered on the businesswoman Nessa Stein (Maggie Gyllenhaal) who is thrust to the top of the Stein Group after the death of her brother. The future of the company’s most ambitious project yet is in her hands, but it all seems as if it may fall apart after interested third parties begin meddling.

The political spy thriller limited series is mostly enjoyable because of Gyllenhaal’s unforgettable performance. The show keeps upping the ante, packing an unbelievable number of shocking moments, which even escalate to involve a disastrous kidnapping.

I May Destroy You (2020)

Available to stream on HBO Max.

Arabella Essiedu (Michaela Coel) is initially in a great place in her life in I May Destroy You, with Twitter fame and a best-selling novel turning her into an icon for milennials. When she takes a break from writing her next hit book by going out for a drink with her friends, a traumatic experience changes the trajectory of her life.

The black comedy-drama miniseries depicts how Arabella tries to recall the missing pieces of that mysterious night. An important aspect of the show is her friendship with Terry Pratchard (Weruche Opia) who helps her navigate her emotions and memories.