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5 Sci-Fi TV Shows in 2019 and Their Inspiring Female Protagonists

5 Sci-Fi TV Shows in 2019 and Their Inspiring Female Protagonists

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A scene from “The Handmaid’s Tale”
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With the end of 2019 rapidly approaching, you should already be buying presents, planning vacations, and stocking up on shows to binge-watch over the holiday season. Although you could just watch the same old TV series you’ve always watched, why go back to stale reruns when you can explore the borders of the possible and the impossible?

In the past years, tons of TV shows speculating about technology, outer space, and the future have appeared. Efforts for more equal representation and diversity on-screen have also led to multiple female-driven shows.

This year was a great year for sci-fi series and female protagonists. If you love strong, women in out-of-this-world scenarios, dystopian alternate universes, and alien threats, then these five TV series from 2019 will be right up your alley.

Don’t worry, the following entries are FREE OF SPOILERS for your maximum enjoyment.

1. The Umbrella Academy

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“If you believe yourself just once, great things are gonna happen for you.”

The Fascinating Premise:

An adaptation of an obscure comic, “The Umbrella Academy” follows the lives of unusual children adopted and raised as a superhero team by an eccentric billionaire, Reginald Hargreeves. The Hargreeves children grow up to be dysfunctional adults because of their emotionally unavailable father and traumatic experiences as superheroes.

When their adoptive father dies, the Hargreeves return to their childhood home for the funeral, only to receive dark news from an unexpected source: the world is about to end in fire, and only they can stop it. Full of dark humor, dry wit, and gut-wrenching drama, “The Umbrella Academy” will make you take a deeper look into the nuances of family, mental health, and superheroism.

The Female Protagonist: Vanya Hargreeves

The only “normal” child from the seven children collected by Reginald Hargreeves, Vanya’s only talent is her skill in playing the violin. Alienated by her more powerful siblings and constantly overlooked by their domineering father, Vanya wrestles with her childhood in the shadow of greatness.

Played with amazing emotional sincerity by Ellen Page, Vanya’s crippling self-doubt and issues make her relatable to anyone who has ever been talked down and underestimated by others. However, like all of us, Vanya hides an inner strength and ability that ultimately proves that she is powerful.

Where Can I Watch It? “The Umbrella Academy” is available for streaming on Netflix and has been renewed for a second season.

2. The Man in the High Castle

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“This place and this world will not last if we don’t change it for the better. It’s only a matter of time. It will get worse.”

The Fascinating Premise:

From the mind of Phillip K. Dick, author of the book “Blade Runner” is based on, this series is set in an alternate reality where Germany and Japan defeated the Allies in World War II. As a result, most of the eastern and middle portions of the United States are controlled by the Greater Nazi Reich while the west coast in under the thumb of the Japanese Pacific States.

With so many hate groups and misguided or misinformed individuals idealizing the Nazi regime today, “The Man in the High Castle” portrays how nightmarish society could be if these ideologies were truly in power.

The Female Protagonist: Juliana Crain

An ordinary girl from San Francisco, Juliana is suddenly drawn into a world of Nazi assassins, Japanese torturers, and Chinese fortune-telling because of films from the titular “Man in the High Castle.” The films show an alternate world where the Allies won the war, in short, our world.

Juliana struggles to maintain her human decency while she’s caught up with an underground resistance movement, hunted by a Japanese version of Inspector Javert and deals with the ramifications of the existence of parallel universes.

Where Can I Watch It? “The Man in the High Castle” is available for streaming on Amazon Prime. The fourth and final season airs in late 2019.

3. Star Trek: Discovery

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“The real world doesn’t adhere to logic. Sometimes up is down. Sometimes when you’re lost, you’re found.”

The Fascinating Premise:

Set a decade before Spock and William Shatner began their adventures, this prequel to the legendary space-faring show follows the journey of the USS Discovery. The Discovery and her crew navigate the perils of Klingon space even as the threat of war looms over the fierce warrior race and the United Federation of Planets.

The show combines the beautiful effects of today’s TV series with compelling storylines and immersing fans of the classic series into a new aspect of the Star Trek universe.

The Female Protagonist: Michael Burnham

Michael is a human raised by the calculating and intelligent Vulcan race. She holds the title of being the first black and female lead of a Star Trek franchise. Michael is brash, intelligent, and gutsy, with a “fire first, ask questions later” attitude that lands her in trouble quite a lot. Michael is one of the few Star Trek characters to defy Starfleet regulations in the most dramatic and public ways possible, branding her as a renegade with enough intelligence and fighting skill to back her up.

Where Can I Watch It? You can stream “Star Trek: Discovery” on Netflix, with its second season airing in mid-2019. The third season is already in production.

4. Doctor Who

“Bit of adrenaline, dash of courage, and a hint of panic knitted my brain back together. I know exactly who I am. I’m the Doctor.”

The Fascinating Premise:

Whooo boy, where to begin? If you’re unfamiliar with the premise of “Doctor Who,” it’s about a semi-immortal alien called “The Doctor.” The Doctor owns a vehicle known as the TARDIS which is short for “Time and Relative Dimensions in Space.” The machine travels in time and through space, opening up literally endless possibilities for stories. It also looks like a blue phone booth.

The Doctor regularly interacts with historical figures, stops interdimensional threats, chased by alien terrors, and picks up human companions to travel with through the cosmos. The Doctor “regenerates” and changes their face and personality when fatally wounded (or when the actor’s tired of playing the role). The past 12 incarnations of the Doctor have been male.

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The Female Protagonist: The Thirteenth Doctor

This time, they regenerated as a woman. Jodie Whitaker takes the TARDIS key and the iconic sonic screwdriver of the Doctor and forges a new identity for herself as television’s longest-running time traveler. The Thirteenth Doctor is just as quirky and outlandish as her predecessors and she brings in a different perspective to the show.

Her stories use the futuristic and sci-fi setting of the show to tackle contemporary issues, such as racism, technological unemployment, and intolerance. With her optimistic outlook, down-to-earth attitude, and rainbow scarf, the Thirteenth Doctor is ready to solve the universe’s problems wherever and whenever she finds them.

Where Can I Watch It? For a show that deals with the future, “Doctor Who” is aired mostly on television on BBC. You can watch it online via HBO Max if you wish to stream it.

5. The Handmaid’s Tale

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“I don’t need oranges. I need to scream. I need to grab the nearest machine gun.”

The Fascinating Premise:

Based on Margaret Atwood’s controversial 1985 novel, a devastating increase of infertility rates among women around the globe triggers societal upheaval. The United States is transformed into a misogynistic, and tyrannical police state run by religious fanatics. The show and the novel it’s based on raises important questions about feminism and the systematic oppression of women.

Women are divided into castes according to their uses relative to their male overlords. Wives act like robots from Stepford and would put even a ‘50s housewife to shame. Some are turned to slaves and women who have fought against the government or are considered too flawed to truly be female.

And then there are the “Handmaids.”

The Female Protagonist: June Osborne/Offred

June Osborne, referred to as “Offred” because her owner is named Fred, is a handmaid. She is one of the few women who are still fertile despite the global crisis. June’s story is one of torture, hardship, and ritualized rape at the hands of Fred, all in hopes of conceiving a child for him.

June pulls no punches in her inner monologue and often drops amusing, if profane, observations. Throughout the show, June faces internal and external battles. She must resist the mistrust and internal misogyny instilled in her by the brutal society she lives in. But she also has to find ways to survive her captivity and escape, hopefully with her kidnapped daughter.

Where Can I Watch It? “The Handmaid’s Tale” is currently streaming on Hulu. The third season aired this year.

Whether they’re in alternate universes, speculative dystopias, or the far-future, the strength and character of women never cease to amaze. So before you wrap-up the year, start up your laptop, pop some popcorn, and settle in for hours of sci-fi awesomeness and inspiring female power with these TV shows.

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