'The First Lady' historic women on TV
Source: Showtime

These TV Shows About Historic Women Offer the Best and Most Complex Looks at Their Lives


Mar. 19 2022, Published 4:23 p.m. ET

Over the years, TV has capitalized on the sometimes sensational, sometimes too-good-to-be-true life stories of extraordinary women in history. During Women's History Month (or any month), you can enjoy these six television shows about women throughout history making an impact in the arts, politics, sciences, and pop culture.

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'The Great'

'The Great'
Source: Hulu

The Great is well aware of its heavily fictionalized version of events, and yet, fans are loving this depiction of Empress Catherine the Great. Elle Fanning portrays the titular character, with Nicholas Hoult as Emperor Peter III, her arrogant, ruthless counterpart. The show follows Catherine upon her arrival to the Russian court and her attempts to overthrow her husband.

The Great is available for streaming on Prime Video and Hulu.


Source: HBO Max

The limited series Veneno follows the life and death of transgender singer, actress, and television personality Cristina Ortiz Rodríguez, known as "La Veneno." The show is based on the biography ¡Digo! Ni puta ni santa. Las memorias de La Veneno by trans reporter Valeria Vegas. Veneno is a Spanish-language show but was released internationally by HBO Max, and reportedly a sequel began filming in 2021.

Watch Veneno on HBO Max.

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'The White Queen'

'The White Queen.'
Source: Starz

Based on the book of the same name by Philippa Gregory, The White Queen is about Elizabeth Woodville (Rebecca Ferguson), wife of King Edward IV of England (Max Irons), and the beginning of the Wars of the Roses. Although the show and the book have been criticized for sensationalizing aspects of Elizabeth's life, her love for her family and her fierce determination to protect them at all costs makes her a powerful historical figure.

The White Queen is available for streaming on Starz.

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'The First Lady'

'The First Lady'
Source: Showtime

A brand-new series by Showtime, The First Lady, is a star-studded anthology series that follows First Ladies in U.S. history. In the first season, Gillian Anderson plays Eleanor Roosevelt, Michelle Pfeiffer plays Betty Ford, and Viola Davis plays Michelle Obama. The show will premiere on April 17, 2022, on Showtime, so don't miss out!

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'Self Made: Madam CJ Walker'

'Self Made'
Source: Netflix

Actress Octavia Spencer earned an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Actress in a Limited Series for her portrayal of Madam C.J. Walker in Self Made. C.J. was a Black entrepreneur and the first female self-made millionaire in the United States. She made her fortune developing cosmetics and hair care products for Black women through her business, the Madam C. J. Walker Manufacturing Company.

Self Made is available for streaming on Netflix.

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Source: Apple TV Plus

Dickinson is a fictionalized look at the life of poet Emily Dickinson. Actress Hailee Steinfeld plays the titular character, who struggles with her sexuality and writing during the show's three-season run. Hailee is joined by Wiz Khalifa, Ella Hunt, Adrian Blake Enscoe, Jane Krakowski, Toby Huss, and many big-name guest stars.

Dickinson is available for streaming on Apple TV Plus.

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