The 14 Best Shows and Movies About Famous Women in History
Celebrate Women’s History Month with these shows based on real women in history.
It’s always a good time to learn more about the often-overlooked female perspective in world history (even after Women’s History Month is over).
But studying doesn’t have to be boring—watching these documentaries, biopics, dramas, and comedies totally counts as research. They all feature real stories of real women, although some may take more liberties in depicting their lives than others.
TV shows featuring historical women
The Great is a comedic drama about Catherine the Great, Empress of All Russia. This is one of the more ahistorical depictions on this list; it takes a lot of liberties to make the story of her life (marrying the Emperor of Russia and taking control of the country from him) into a quirky dark comedy, but it does it well.
Like The Great, Dickinson is a comedy that doesn’t necessarily follow Emily Dickinson’s life down to the letter. Instead, it reimagines the American poet’s life through a 21st century lens, including anachronistic dialogue and lots of cameos including Chloe Fineman and Ziwe.
This ill-fated period drama (HBO cancellations are often cruel) follows Anne Lister, a wealthy landowner during the Industrial Revolution. She’s well-known not only for dressing and conducting business like a man, but also for marrying a woman.
A League of Their Own
Yes, they spun the classic 1992 movie into its own series, although it flew a little under the radar when it premiered back in August 2022. Like the film, the TV series is a comedic drama about an all-woman baseball team during World War II.
The White Queen/The White Princess/The Spanish Princess/The Serpent Queen
The White Queen is a dramatic TV series ported over to STARZ from the BBC. It follows three women during England’s Wars of the Roses in 1464. STARZ loved the show so much that it decided to make two spinoffs: The White Princess, which depicts the end of the Wars of the Roses, and The Spanish Princess, which is about Henry VIII’s first wife, Catherine of Aragon.
In 2022, STARZ pivoted away from England with The Serpent Queen, a show about Catherine de’ Medici, the Queen of France for much of the 1500s. This isn’t really connected to the original English royalty shows, having nothing to do with the novels by Philippa Gregory, but the naming convention feels intentional and is close enough for us to include it with the others.
Self Made is a fictionalized drama about Madam C.J. Walker, an entrepreneur and a woman of many firsts. She was the first female self-made millionaire and the first African American self-made millionaire, making her fortune with a line of cosmetics for Black women.
Looking for the hottest entertainment?
Subscribe to our email newsletter to get the latest TV premieres, entertaining takes, and money-saving promotions.
Movies featuring historical women
Starring the talented trio of Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monáe, Hidden Figures follows three Black women who played vital parts in NASA’s Space Race. It’s a must-watch for anyone interested in the history of computers and space travel.
Hidden Figures is available to stream on Disney+ and the following platforms:
The Woman Knight of Mirror Lake
This bloody martial arts film is about Qiu Jin, a feminist revolutionary at the turn of the 20th century. The film follows Qiu Jin as she uses her unusual martial arts education to rebel against the Qing Dynasty.
Salma Hayek stars as Mexican artist Frida Kahlo in this biopic. The film depicts Kahlo after a devastating car accident inspires her to begin painting, and it follows her life and dysfunctional marriage to Diego Rivera.
Frida is available to stream on the following platforms: