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TV That's Good for Girls

Common Sense Media logo Common Sense Media 1/22/2014 Sierra Filucci

Girls deserve so much better than much of what they see on TV. First, they deserve to see more girls and women on the screen in the first place -- only 30 percent of kids' TV characters are female, according to the Geena Davis Institute on Gender and Media. And when girls or women do appear on-screen, they are still heavily stereotyped and sexualized -- portrayed in traditional roles or wearing sexy clothing -- in both kids' TV and prime-time shows.

This lack of great female role models in the media has a negative effect on kids -- both girls and boys. But parents have the power to filter out at least some of the negative images and messages and replace them with shows that kids will enjoy and that show female characters as strong, smart people with something positive to offer the world.

Check out this collection of great shows both old and new, and program that DVR!

Sheriff Callie's Wild West, age 3+

Callie calls the shots in her town. She manages to be a strong leader while remaining honest, fair, and aware of other people's feelings. When conflict arises, she devises creative resolutions that show, rather than tell, kids why strong character is important and gives them examples of how they can use these social skills in their own relationships.

Peg + Cat, age 3+

Peg tackles relatable preschool problems using logical thinking and math skills. There's no trouble too big for her to reason her way through, and her friends are there to help when she needs them.

Doc McStuffins, age 3+

She's a doctor! At least for her toys. And her parents encourage her dreams and her desire to follow in the footsteps of her mom, a full-fledged human doctor. Doc also is patient with her younger brother and always willing to lend a hand when he runs into trouble.

Sofia the First, age 3+

She may be a princess, but Sofia doesn't balk at taking a stand on what's important to her, even if that means she seems different from the other royalty. Her willingness to stand up for what she believes often has a positive influence on those around her. Some of her peers are standoffish and snooty, but she follows her heart rather than them, and her actions sway their opinions about "proper" princess behavior.

Design Squad Nation, age 6+

This lively engineering show subverts the idea that only boys like building stuff. The hosts are male and female, and the kids who appear on the show are a diverse bunch, with plenty of girls in the mix who show off their smarts.

When Calls the Heart, age 7+

The central female characters challenge the roles they were expected to take on as high-society women in frontier days. Instead of being blindly obedient, they exercise free will and rely on their faith in God to see them through their many trials. Each is of high integrity and stands up for what's morally right, even at the expense of what she wants.

Dear America, age 7+

The girls at the heart of this historical anthology series usually exhibit personal strength that sees them through the challenges of the time. Most of the time a solid family structure is behind their strong character and helps them weather the storms, and they often make surprising discoveries about people they assumed to be enemies.

Legend of Korra, age 8+

Korra is a determined, goal-oriented heroine whose strong sense of duty guides her to embrace her training and develop her talents. She's not perfect, and she often finds that her impetuous nature impedes her ability to learn from her even-tempered mentor. Ultimately, though, she tries to be open to new ideas and is dedicated to improving her skills.

The Bletchley Circle, age 14+

The quartet of strong women at the center of this period murder mystery are smart and hardworking and may make young viewers more interested in math and science, which these savvy ladies use to solve crimes.

Parks and Recreation, age 14+

Leslie Knope is absolutely brilliant and completely devoted to her job as a public servant. She's also found romance and love while wearing sensible pants suits. What else could you ask for?

Which is your favorite show with great girl role models?

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