Throughout history, phenomenal women have broken barriers and accomplished the extraordinary, but they haven’t always received the accolades and recognition they deserve. Just three months into 2021, the world lost trailblazing actresses with careers spanning decades, but we revel in their accomplishments during Women’s History Month and look to the ever-growing crop of new faces primed to break down walls and champion girl power.
Arguably, women are worthy of being celebrated every day, not just during March, but if you’re looking to learn more about some of the bold and brilliant women who “run the world” HBO Max has got you covered. The streaming platform offers a diverse selection of programming that features women front and center, being fearless and fighting for what they believe in. Need a little help honing in on some? Keep reading for our picks of the best shows and specials on HBO Max to watch during Women’s History Month.
Yvonne Orji: Momma, I Made It! (HBO Original)
Getting one’s own comedy special is no easy feat, but Yvonne Orji not only makes it look easy, but like she’s done it before. In the hour-long HBO Original Momma, I Made It! she combines footage of her live onstage performance at Washington’s Howard Theatre with her visit back home to Nigeria, where she was lovingly welcomed by her proud parents.
Orji’s special is perfect for any woman wanting to live her life on her terms. The actress shares she earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees trying to travel the road to success her parents primed for her, but chose to blaze a path for herself as a comedian. She’s also candid about her faith and her desire to wait for marriage. Orji is an inspiring example of someone who’s proud to stand up for what she believes in. With the success of her role as Issa Rae’s best friend Molly on the HBO hit series, Insecure (for which Orji has been nominated for an Emmy and three NAACP Image Awards), viewers of Momma, I Made It gets to revel in Orji at her funniest.
Selena + Chef (Max Original)
In Selena + Chef singer-actress Selena Gomez trades in her stilettos and stage attire for an apron and cutting board. Admittedly not the best cook, Gomez invites a different celebrity chef each week to join her remotely for a hands-on cooking lesson and live demo. Fans of the 28-year-old get to see Gomez at her most charming and vulnerable each week as she invites viewers into her life and learns her way around the kitchen.
Culinary masters Marcus Samuelsson, José Andrés, Graham Elliot and JJ Johnson were part of the who’s who of talent that have appeared remotely on the show. Now as an added bonus for its second season, fans are invited to learn and support different food-related charities, an apropos endeavor that the “proud third-generation Mexican-American” has championed. Because of her tenacity for life as well as the invaluable representation that she offers others of Hispanic and Latino descent, we pick Selena + Chef as a must-watch for Women’s History Month.
Amanda Seales: I Be Knowin’ (HBO Original)
Amanda Seales will go to great lengths to make you laugh and she does this by leaving no subject off limits. In her HBO Original comedy special, Amanda Seales: I Be Knowin,’ the author, actress and podcaster describes her special as “thirty-seven years of finding the funny.” Seales covers a wide range of topics from Lift Every Voice and Sing, (known as the Black national anthem) to her hilarious handling of catcallers. Taboo topics are tackled and triumphed by Seales with a rawness and realness that distinguishes her from amongst her peers.
Both onscreen and in real life, Seales, who earned her masters degree in Africana Studies at Columbia University, appears committed to being an outspoken advocate for causes she cares about. For using her voice and platform to speak her truth and change the world, and for making thoughtful and provocative comedy that speaks directly to Black women, we think Amanda Seales: I Be Knowin’ is a great selection for Women’s History Month viewing.
Industry (HBO Original)
The financial sector can be ruthless for anyone choosing to make a name for themselves in the male-dominated industry. With HBO’s creative take on the behind-the-scenes workings of this competitive world, fans witness more than just power-hungry men hellbent on making money. Industry depicts another aspect of banking and trading and the women at its forefront.
Based in the U.K. after the 2008 financial crisis, fans meet Harper Stern (Myha’la Herrold) who’s trying to hide the emotional scars of a painful past and earn her place at the top. With each challenge, Harper learns more about herself and what she’s willing to do to survive. Fans also see her wrestle between staying in England to realize her dream of becoming a successful trader, or return home to the states defeated. The power dynamics in the workforce and upward mobility for women has been the subject of many onscreen projects, but Industry tackles this with an authenticity executive producer and director Lena Dunham has been celebrated for. This HBO Original offers a glimpse into the reality of a young Black woman who has all that it takes to make it to the top, yet who still must play a game designed by others with questionable motives and objectives.
I May Destroy You (HBO Original)
Michaela Coel’s HBO Original I May Destroy You made an immediate and resounding splash when it premiered, being heralded by media outlets as “the most sublimely unsettling show of the year.” In the limited-series, fans got a glimpse of Coel’s genius. She plays Arabella, a young writer trying to navigate life after memories of a sexual assault cause her world to implode. It took 191 drafts for Coel to fictionalize her real-life assault.
While taking a break from an all-night writing session for her hit series, Chewing Gum, Coel revealed her drink was spiked at a bar and she was sexually assaulted by two men. I May Destroy You offers a transparency that will hopefully help others heal if not come to a place of deep introspection and empowerment, making it a great Women’s History Month selection.