5 TV Shows That Define Girlhood

Girlhood is complicated. There are always movies and TV shows that try to make girls perfect, but it will always be a personal experience that’s different for every community (and girl).

5 TV Shows That Define Girlhood (Getty Images)

OaklandSometimes girlhood is either being extremely girly or to the extent of being gross. Sometimes it's about being so embarrassed that looking back you get the ick from yourself, at times it's about accidentally killing off a nun and occasionally foraging for food in the most extreme ways possible. We can't define girlhood as a specific feeling or experience, it just embodies itself in different ways. 

Here are five shows that showcase the resonance of girlhood.


You might have heard of how “Yellowjackets” is similar to “Lord Of The Flies” or “The Wilds”. The show premises are surrounded by a stranded soccer team and ‘90s nostalgia. The show reckons with our culture’s history of sublimating women’s experiences, or in this case, girls. It is well-timed into our trauma-obsessed culture, to create a show that recognizes girlhood as being just as gorey and haunting as boyhood- that girlhood can be equally traumatizing. It’s a relatable, campy horror show for young women about adolescence and the pasts that follow us. The show works as a metaphor for the way girls turn on each other, and it also just makes sense for them since they’re practically starving, and the climate that is set has eliminated other dinner options. 

“Derry Girls”

A tribute to female adolescence, the Northern Irish comedy will always do justice when capturing the depiction of teenage girlhood even when the world is in shambles. It gave us complex and unpredictable characters who are never in complete control of their lives. The show follows a group of girls (and James) living through a time of historical conflict, growing up against the background of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, yet they are still subject to the usual teenage oddities and contradictions. It's the events that Liza Mcgee went through that make this show refreshing, it's personal and authentic, focusing on the complex themes of girlhood and what makes you a Derry Girl.   

“Never Have I Ever”

Crazy Devi will forever be in my heart as the girl who tried to pet a coyote and ended up in a not-so-great situation after that. “Never Have I Ever” follows an Indian American girl throughout high school and her personal life. Throughout the four seasons, Devi grows as a self-sufficient individual and becomes more confident about herself as she navigates romance, grief, and growing up as she becomes the person that she truly is. The show is rather more relatable when Devi is making yet another spur-of-the-moment, relationship-fraying wrong decision. The relationship between Devi and her mother is what makes the show engaging and relatable, with both mother and daughter struggling with their problems in their own way.


Unlike the other shows I have written about, “Nana'' is an anime taking on one of the worst but realistic parts of girlhood. The show is intended for both young and older audiences as it depicts the harsh reality of adulthood and shows us the reality in all its bitter truths that people experience in life, but also tells us that these events change these people a lot and that according to their situations. In the show, two girls, both named Nana, meet one dark and cold night on a train to Tokyo and are opposites of each other. The anime perfectly portrays a woman’s right to live the life they want, and that women’s decisions are varied and diverse. Nana’s success is due to its originality and its evident connection with real-life situations. 


Going through painfully awkward stages is part of girlhood, well the grossness and altering with life is just part of growing up. The show is about the years of middle school of its awkward, nostalgic, and most of the time, gross parts. In “Pen15”, these uncomfortable parts of girlhood aren’t presented simply for shock value or with a wink to the camera. They aren’t overexplained or pointed out as inverting societal norms. The grossness is as much a part of being 13 as bad haircuts, unrequited crushes, trying on your friend’s mom’s bra, or just being messy. It was a radically honest show about being Asian American girlhood. 

Ana G. Valdes, (she/her) is an Oakland-based journalist who covers culture and entertainment, films and TV shows.

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