We’re all quick to defend the kids’ shows of the late 1990s to early 2000s, but do we ever stop and think about what made them so great? Surprisingly, many television shows from this era had a lot of feminist qualities to them – even though feminism didn’t play nearly as large of a part in societal discussions as it does today.
1. Hey Arnold
Though a female lead is always a pleasant sight, a show does not necessarily need a female main character to promote feminism. Hey Arnold was a great show because there wasn’t just one girl in the show whose persona was meant to speak to all girls, but a variety of girls who each had a relatable characteristic. Most girls can’t deny that they have pretended to loathe someone that they really liked, like Helga Pataki, or that they have felt embarrassed because they were smart, like Phoebe Heyerdahl. Plus, what’s more feminist than a grandma that’s also a karate master?
2. My Life As A Teenage Robot
Not every show can depict the unavoidable moodiness, vulnerability, and angst of puberty through an undeniably heroic character. My Life As A Teenage Robot teaches girls a simple message: love the skin (or metal) you’re in. This show didn’t tell anyone that being comfortable in your own skin is easy. We may get so fed up with our looks that we’ll take drastic measures to change it, like when Jenny (or X-J-9 as her mother annoyingly calls her) put on her “exo-skin” to look human at the town fair, but ended up looking even less human than before:
Nevertheless, Jenny’s constant dominance during battle scenes proves that abilities always outweigh looks.
3. As Told By Ginger
Simply put, this show was one of the realest shows on television. Unlike a lot of today’s kids’ shows, which feature overly-chirpy girls facing completely unrealistic problems, As Told By Ginger was a true recounting of the emotional and social vulnerability of the pre-teen years, and the importance of sticking with the people who make you happy, regardless of the social status that may leave you at. Plus, Ginger’s mom was the ultimate feminist role model. She was definitely the embarrassing mom every pre-teen loathes, but she was the confident mom that every pre-teen needs:
Daria was the spokesperson for the teenage girl who simply couldn’t be bothered with teenhood. While some may claim that Daria was haughtily pessimistic, there’s no denying that there comes a point in your teenage years where you’re over all of the physical and emotional vulnerability and decide to simply become emotionless. Daria embodies this stage. She also shows that sometimes, all we need in our teenage years are a little less tears and a lot more sarcasm:
5. Kim Possible
It’s pretty obvious why Kim is a feminist role model: she’s a high school girl who saves the world from mass destruction in her spare time. Still, it’s important to note that she had no cape or mask. She wasn’t even super muscular, as most superheroes tend to be. This proves that you don’t have to look a certain way or change anything about yourself to provoke change. Sometimes the power to change the world is already in you. It’s all about having a strategy…and finding the time:
6. The PowerPuff Girls
These girls may each be different but when it comes to crime, they’re not having it! This is a show that can easily be applied to the nature of feminism itself. Many people ignore feminism because they feel like they don’t fit the “feminist model”, which can mean anything from being a woman who doesn’t show a lot of skin to being a woman that is educated. Nevertheless, feminism is not about being a certain type of person. It’s just about knowing that certain people, women, deserve certain rights. Like the PowerPuff Girls, us feminists are not all the same, but we all have the same fervor when we know that there is an injustice being committed.