Netflix has a way of creating captivating stories. Lately, they’ve been producing a lot more documentaries and historical dramas. We love the direction they’re taking, but when it comes to representation of important historical figures, we think they could use a little nudge. There are some amazing women in history whom we think awesome stories could be created around. Many of them are relative unknowns, often neglected in high school history classes that tend to focus more on history’s male figureheads. Here are just 10 of these historical figures, whom we think awesome stories could be written around.
We all know the power of the Roman Empire. But imagine a story about the Roman Empire from the point of view of one of the peoples they were trying to conquer. Boudica was such a fierce warrior that she pushed Roman soldiers back multiple times, almost causing Emperor Nero to give up on her area altogether with. And while she was eventually defeated, she fought hard for her people and her daughters and is considered a hero to this day. We would love to see her story played out: Lots of blood and gore and excitement with a woman leading the charge for once.
Consider a story with a similar grit and heart to it as Netflix’s Anne with an E, and you have a great recipe for a story about Mary Wollstonecraft. Abused by her father, Mary grew up to advocate for women’s rights. She was a radical feminist, and her A Vindication of the Rights of Women is studied in gender studies classes to this day.
Imagine a fun, adventurous story about a young girl in Kansas who enjoyed exploring and getting her hands dirty. While many know the story of an older Earhart, we think a deeper exploration into her childhood could make a Netflix original that would intrigue audiences while still having some mysteries to tell and some freedom to explore her story.
Imagine this backdrop for a Netflix original: a world in which the insane were tortured and prisoners cruelly mistreated. It would be a grim, gritty setting, perfect for lovers of shows like Orange is the New Black or Cargo. Enter Elizabeth Fry. Nicknamed the “Angel of Prisons,” a Victorian-era woman who led the campaign to improve life for prisoners, and, later, to improve hospitals and asylums. This would be an awesome series, with a strong woman at the helm, and we’re hoping to see something of that sort in the coming years.
Nellie Bly wasn’t the first female journalist. But in her day, journalism for women was mainly kept to Home and Garden-esque articles. Bly didn’t write about being a homemaker or about giving the perfect gift to her husband. She threw herself into deep-cutting articles on social issues, including poverty. Later, she made a trip around the world in just 72 days, an adventure she is perhaps best known for. But we think that a Netflix original showing how she got to be that woman would be amazing.
A sickly child, Bird could easily have holed up in her home and not done much. Instead, the outspoken woman learned to ride horses and adventure. One doctor’s advice that she get some fresh air led to her taking increasingly exciting trips all over the world. Netflix could explore different cultures and environments and adventures in a story about her life.
Mystery. Intrigue. Fashion. What more could you want out of a Netflix original? Coco Chanel launched her own fashion line, but she did it during WWII, and there are rumors to this day that she had ties to German intelligence. We think that sounds like a recipe for a thrilling Netflix mystery.
Imagine a woman who left her daughter behind to join the first all-female Everest group. Junko Tabei withstood harsh media criticism at the time. Even better, she made it to the top of Everst—a feat only a fistful of people can claim. For a feel-good story about female empowerment and dedication, Netflix should try their hand at the story of Junko Tabei.
Who says girls aren’t meant for STEM studies? Mary Somerville studied math and astronomy both. She was also a writer, and she helped her mother with a farm. In later life, she also fought for women to have more equal access to education. Showing a woman who fought against all the norms of society and made real contributions to the fields of mathematics and astronomy would give Netflix a feel-good story the whole family could enjoy.
Divorce isn’t largely accepted now, so imagine the scandal surrounding it in the 1600s. Mary Merian not only left an unhappy marriage, but she then went on to run her own business. A scientific illustrator, she sold paintings that showed the life cycles of plants an insects. A classic story about picking yourself up by your bootstraps, and one that shows a confident woman running a business and studying science, this could make a truly inspirational Netflix original for young women everywhere.