The landscape of TV can be very gender-specific. Many shows featuring strong female leads have achieved success on both sides of the gender line (True Blood, Homeland); and yet, other shows have to carry the stigma of being "girl shows," with all the gender bias that term implies. While certain TV shows are obviously aimed toward one gender or another (see: Lifetime or Spike), we hate to see great gems of TV viewing slip through the cracks of gender bias, when truly there is a great experience there for any and everyone.
Qualifying for our list was simple: These are all shows we tried to convince guys we know to watch, only to be refused on the basis of gender bias. So now we're presenting our case: These aren't just great shows in their own right - some of them are actually of great tactical use to the male gender.
Check out (in no particular order) our "5 'Girl Shows' That Guys Should Be Watching"
Scandal (ABC or Netflix)
Created by Shonda Rhimes (Grey's Anatomy), Scandal started out as a case-of-the-week show centered around DC media relations consultant Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) - but it wisely switched to a more focused, streamlined storyline with all the elements of a great political drama, spy and espionage scenarios included. Think of Scandal as a network version of House of Cards.
WHY IT'S GOOD FOR GUYS: It's more "male-driven" than Grey's Anatomy; men and women share equal time onscreen. One of the male leads actually tortures people for a living (guys can get into that) - and not to be crass, but who wouldn't want to stare at Kerry Washington every week? Look, there's a good chance the lady in your life already has you watching this show; if not, being up to date on the exploits of Pope and Co. isn't a bad ice-breaker, fellas.
(Contributions by David Griffin and Anthony Ocasio)
The Vampire Diaries (CW or Netflix)
The Vampire Diaries tells the tale of young Elena Gilbert trying to live a "normal" life in the small town of Mystic Falls, where vampires, werewolves, witches and everything in between share complicated origins. They also share a common interest in Elena, whose family and friends have ties to the supernatural history of the town and have suffered greatly as a result.
WHY IT'S GOOD FOR GUYS: Like Supernatural, what makes Vampire Diaries accessible for male audiences are the two male leads, the Salvatore brothers (vampires). They are more often than not at odds with one another and always fighting for the affection of Elena - but no matter how rocky the relationships become, how horrifying the characters are revealed to be, or how awful the situations they find themselves in, the Salvatores (and a few other likable non-humans) always have each others' and Elena's back. It's the brotherly love that male viewers can relate to - along with the darker supernatural elements of the show.
(Contributions by Rob Keyes)
Girl Code (MTV or MTV.com)
What if we told you there was a way for you to have women explained to you in raw detail from a diverse range of female perspectives, as presented by a collection of girls who include several Maxim "Hometown Hottie" winners and a gang of witty comediennes? Would that be the kind of class you'd sign up for? Then good news: it's already being provided foryou, for free. A spin-off of MTV's Guy Code series, Girl Code is like that better-looking, slightly funnier version of a concept that was already solid to begin with.
WHY IT'S GOOD FOR GUYS: Are you kidding? Dude, get a notepad, sit down and listen carefully. These girls are giving away trade secrets of the female gender - and they're entertaining you at the same time! Honestly, if you're a twenty-something still out there playing the dating game, this should be the ONLY thing you watch, bro. (And if you think the other side isn't studying and breaking down the Guy Code litigiously, you are naive, my friend...)
Orphan Black (BBC America or VOD)
This series is currently enjoying the title "Rookie of the Year, 2013." Created by Canadian TV veteran John Fawcett and Cube writer Graeme Manson, Orphan Black follows Sarah Manning (Tatiana Maslany), a wild-child who one night witnesses a girl (who looks exactly like her) commit suicide. When she finds out the dead girl has wealth, Sarah impersonates her in order to steal it - thereby setting off a chain of crazy events that reveal a much deeper and twisted sci-fi reality behind why Sarah and this girl (and several other girls we meet) all wear the same face.
WHY IT'S GOOD FOR GUYS: Aside from some serious sci-fi goodness, Orphan Black also happens to be one of the best (if not THE best) mystery-thrillers on TV at the moment. If you've been looking for that show to fill the void of Lost, this should be your No. 1 pick. BONUS: Because lead actress Tatiana Maslany plays so many different women in the show, Orphan Black is a perfect litmus test for your personal tastes in girls (ex: are you into Allison or Cosima types?). That's educational entertainment any guy should be able to get behind.
Orange is the New Black (Netflix)
Orange is the New Black comes our way courtesy of Weeds creator Jenji Kohan, and is a similarly good marriage of high-concept dramedy and insightful female perspective. Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling) is a 30-something yuppie who finds her about-to-be-perfect life suddenly derailed when her wild twenties come back to haunt her in the form of a 15-month a prison sentence - penalty for a one-time muling of drugs for her smuggler ex-girlfriend (Laura Prepon). In prison, Chapman discovers a world (and characters) far removed from her buttoned-down bubble existence, and has to roll with the twists of her surreal new lifestyle.
WHY IT'S GOOD FOR GUYS: This show offers a similar hook as HBO's Oz: namely, a fly-on-the-wall look at a little-known (but intriguing) corner of society. In this case, the woman-dominated world in question is far more fascinating than the rape-and-kill-a-minute depictions of Oz - thanks in large part to Kohan's writing and the talented ensemble cast. And come on, bro: if you watched all that man-meat on display in Oz, you should be watching this show too, if only for spiritual/psychological balance.
If you feel there are other shows guys are foolishly denying themselves because they have mislabeled them as too girlie - let us know what they are in the comment section.
Other than that, no need to thanks us: we're happy to pass on a few shows that might not only tickle your fancy, but help you seem more appealing to the lady in your life - or perhaps, that lady you want in your life. ;-)
You can find out about new episodes of the shows on our list, below:
Scandal - Season 3 Premieres on Thursday 10/3 @10pm on ABC.
The Vampire Diaries - Season 5 Premieres on Thursday 10/3 @8pm on The CW.
Orphan Black - Season 2 will premiere in April 2014.
Orange is the New Black - Entire Season 1 currently available on Netflix streaming.
Girl Code - Season 2 Premiere Date TBD.
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