25 Female-Fronted Comedies You Should See (Rom-Com Free!)

This weekend saw the release of Bridesmaids, the only funny movie ever made starring humans with vaginas, ovaries and other female-related parts. If this movie does well, we might see another two or three female-fronted comedies before we die!

Just kidding! Despite popular belief, Bridesmaids is not the first lady-fronted comedy of all time. In fact, there’s plenty you may not have even seen!

We’ve come up with 25 — and not just any 25. 25 lady-fronted comedies that aren’t primarily about a romantic relationship between two dirty dirty heterosexuals!

As with all Top Howevermanys, many of you will want to use excessive punctuation and all-caps to express your disagreement with our selections and your feelings about our sub-par intelligence levels and list-making abilities. If you do so, please use no less than 5 question marks, otherwise we can’t tell if you’re serious. We also appreciate any comment that begins with “What about [x]???!!!!??!!! It’s so much better than [y from the list]!!!!!!”

(Sidenote: early dispatches from the field suggest Bridesmaids is terrible and not feminist or revolutionary and hilarious. In other news, lesbians still can’t be brides in America let alone have bridesmaids.)

25 Bechdel-Approved Comedy Movies Starring Women

in which the primary topic of the film is not a romantic relationship with a man

(*s mean a woman directed, wrote and/or co-wrote the film)

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25. Desperately Seeking Susan (1985)

Desperately Seeking Susanstars Cherrie Jaffe, Shane’s ex-girlfriend, as a like suburban wife person who gets caught up with Madonna’s character Susan and I believe at one point acquires her jacket. The most important part of this film is Madonna’s outfits.

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24. Happy Endings (2005)

Happy Endings is ostensibly “a witty look at love, family and the sheer unpredictablity of life itself.” You’ll come for Maggie Gyllenhall and Lisa Kudrow. Almost leave for Tom Arnold. Stay for the lesbian couple because Laura Dern plays gay so so good. I can’t remember if I loved this movie or not but I definitely liked it.

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23. Sister Act (1992) & Sister Act 2 (1996)

Sister Act is about a Las Vegas singer played by Whoopi Goldberg who has to go undercover as a nun and she teaches them all to sing songs about G-d but to the tune of more popular songs. Then everyone comes to church. On the topic of Sister Act 2, my very close personal friend says – “Lauryn Hill raps on a rooftop at one point, which wasn’t in the script. And then everyone sings Joyful Joyful and they are exactly that.”

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22. Serial Mom (1994)

JOHN WATERS JOHN WATERS JOHN WATERS. Serial Mom is super fucked up, so you should only see it if you’re also super fucked up. It’s about a Mom who’s actually a serial killer. Dark, right?

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21. Girls Just Want to Have Fun (1985)

Listen, Janey JUST WANTS TO DANCE. A girl wanting to dance but not being allowed to dance is always an excellent topic for a feature film and killer soundtrack. Yes — before she was Carrie Bradshaw, Sarah Jessica Parker was a lot of things and one of those things is Janey in Girls Just Wanna Have Fun. Co-stars Helen Hunt and Shannon Doherty.

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20. Clockwatchers* (1997)

Clockwatchers is described as a “postmodern dark comedy about working Generation Xers.” It stars Toni Collette, Lisa Kudrow (obvs), Parker Posey (duh!) and Alanna Ubach.

Temping turned out to be exactly every bit as terrible as it was in this film, but not nearly as funny.

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19. The House of Yes (1997)

In which Parker Posey thinks she’s Jackie O, which really weirds Tori Spelling out.

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18. 9 to 5 (1980)

“I have to go shopping. We’re running out of everything: cat food, fish food, ant spray, rat poison.”

In which the “tables are turned” upon their “sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot” boss.

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17. Ghost World (2001)

Based on the graphic novel by Daniel Clowes, Ghost World is like you and your friend standing on the edge of the party talking like Daria. How do you stay an individual in this strange fucked-up desperate obscene world of ours? It’s hard. Being a girl.

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16. The Opposite of Sex (1998)

You wanna get dark? This is fucking dark. Christina Ricci is such a magnificent bitch in The Opposite of Sex.

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15. Bend it Like Beckham** (2002)


It’s difficult to watch Bend It Like Beckham knowing that the lesbian storyline was cut from it, but if you just store that in the back of your brain and concentrate on the cute girls in shin guards, you’ll laugh a lot. Also there’s a scene where Kiera Knightley rips her shirt off that apparently has transformative power for homosexuals.

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14. Jackie’s Back (1999)

This is one of the movies where if you haven’t seen it, and it’s likely that you haven’t seen it, you actually need to remedy that situation as soon as possible. This mockumentary stars Jennifer Lewis and Tim Curry, he narrates and she is the diva upon which the show relies.

Other actors in this film include Whoopi Goldberg, Melissa Etheridge, Chris Rock, Rosie O’Donnell, Kathy Griffin, Bette Midler, Ricki Lake, Liza Manelli, Kathy Najimy, David Hyde Pierce, Jackie Collins, Charles Barkley, Penny Marshall and Grace Slick.

There’s also a ton of super-random unexpected cameos, like Sean Hayes and Loretta Devine.

Look at The Eth!


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Profile gravatar of Riese

Riese is the 35-year-old CEO, CFO and Editor-in-Chief of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York City and mellowed out in California before returning to Michigan for reasons that are unclear to her now. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 2356 articles for us.

126 Comments

  1. 0

    Keira Knightley shirtless in Bend It Like Beckham changed my life forever. True story. And then when I found out it had originally featured a lesbian plotline…GIANT LIGHTBULB MOMENT EXPLAINING WHY I LIKED IT SO MUCH.

    Saved! may be one of my favorite comedies of all time, considering all the time I spent in youth groups during my middle and high school life. The last two years, whenever I was forced to attend and listen to “hip” 35-year-old white guys with soul patches talk about how cool Jesus was and how teens shouldn’t be afraid to be Christian because like, it’s really hard to be upper middle-class white and Christian, I thought of Saved! and almost actually burst out laughing a few times.

    (No joke, one time that 35-year-old balding guy with soul patch actually addressed Saved! in one of his talks/speeches/sermonds. He used it as an example of how Christians are really oppressed in modern American culture.)

    Anyway, thanks for this list cause now I have a bunch of movies I need to watch/re-watch ASAP!

    • 0

      I am eating a granola bar and actually did that “stopped chewing in shock” thing when I read that line about how Christians are oppressed.

    • 0

      I remember watching this movie for the first time with my friend, who quickly informed me that her mother had told her that Keira Knightley was a lesbian. I was all “NO SHE’S NOTTT,” and then she ripped her shirt off, and I was all “Maybe I am?”

    • 0

      Hi, I think we nearly had the same experiences but I had to deal with the “hip 35 year old white youth pastor” using a “black accent” whenever he talked to me. Until I actually OPENED MY MOUTH TO SAY SOMETHING, he stopped, realizing “oh she is one of *those* “Cosby kids” (Which he actually referred to me as, I have so many stories, I don’t know where to being with that). Anyway that was one thing that annoyed me when I used to go youth ministry camps and meetings.

      But there’s more…

      His favorite phrases he used in being “hip” with the kids/teens:

      “Yo what’s up? God.”

      “G-O-D in the hizzouse”

      “Jesus is a homie”

      And my favorite only because he used to only say it around me: “Sometimes I think Jesus could have been black.”

      O_O

      I wish I was kidding but when I saw Saved! and the character Pastor Skip(?) I literally did a double take because he was just like him. Ridic.

      I remember those days fondly as I am now a atheist, not because of that, that was just a hot ass mess, a hot ass mess that makes me smile with a contentious edge.

    • 0

      I had an argument with some friends in which I insisted it was ages since I’d seen Bend it Like Beckham but I was POSITIVE the girls ended up together! It was DEFINITELY a gay film! And then I realised that they didn’t 🙁

      But I was so convinced, that Idid some googling, found out they were MEANT to be -> victory! Or, I thought so anyway…

  2. 0

    I love half these movies and the other half just got added to my list of movies to watch when I have time to watch movies. Love it.

  3. 0

    yes, yes, yes to all of these but especially #1. There will never be a movie more quotable than Mean Girls. Thanks, Tina Fey!

      • 0

        I did this, but in the shower. because it was one of those group showers in the barracks. and my friend kept saying roger so i asked if roger was her cousin and she said he was her first cousin, cuz you see, you have your cousins and then you have your first cousins and then your second cousins….wait, that’s wrong, isn’t it.

        so wrong, okeefe.

  4. 0

    I’m fairly sure A League of Their Own is a required lesbian movie. As in you aren’t a lesbian if you haven’t watched it.

    Now, has anyone seen my new red hat?

  5. 0

    Love, love, love pretty much all of these movies, but I really prefer the short story Breakfast at Tiffany’s to the movie, so I’m inserting Drop Dead Gorgeous into that slot instead:)

  6. 0

    is it sad that i feel cool because half of these movies are on my “favorites” list? I DON’T CARE. I’M COOL NOW.

    • 0

      We can be cool together. I’ve seen 95% of them, I own about 90% of them, and a good chunk of these make the fav list. Wanna come over and watch them and be cool? I made cookies. Cookies are cool, right?

  7. 0

    I am ashamed that I haven’t seen a lot of these movies. I guess a lot of things are being added to my netflix queue tonight!

    Saved! is definitely one of my all time favorite movies ever. And But I’m A Cheerleader was a big part of realizing my homogayness because I saw the lead character and went “HOLY CRAP THAT IS ME.”

    • 0

      But I’m A Cheerleader was a huge part of how I figured out once and for all that I definitely was into girls as well.
      The whole “everyone looks at other girls, all the time!” part? 100% me.

      • 0

        This! I definitely believed that until I was 20. Also, it was ok for other people to be lesbians, but not me. I was going to be normal, dammit! If I had seen But I’m A Cheerleader in high school, I think I would have figured things out way sooner, and had a much better time there.

        • 0

          Ha my problem was mostly that I like men as well, so I just kinda ignored the constantly checking out other girls and finding girls hotter than guys thing. Also I did the whole ‘well I find girls attractive but I couldn’t date one’ thing without thinking anything beyond that. Fail.
          Totally could have figured out I liked women way earlier if I’d seen this movie before this fall.

          • 0

            I was the same way! This movie made me think about so many things differently- like the part with the Melissa Etheridge poster. I was totally that girl and had no idea….. No wonder NO ONE was surprised when I finally came out!

    • 0

      i have the same birthday as clea duvall.

      …that’s all i have to contribute here really. aside from the “i love this movie too” feeling.

  8. 0

    I absolutely LOVE The House of Yes.
    I’ve already seen Bridesmaids twice. I haven’t laughed so hard in a long time. Kristen Wiig’s performance was relatable and genius… Also, Wilson Phillips!

    • 0

      When Wilson Phillips showed up, I was kinda distracted by all their plastic surgery, but immediately wanted to listen to them on repeat

      • 0

        i’ve been listening to them!& yes, I totes said, why the hell has Chyna has so much plastic surgery…and Wendy (?) looks almost exactly the same. I loved Mya & Kristen’s interpretation of the lyrics!

  9. 0

    For your consideration: Baby Mama with Fey and Poehler.
    Bring It On which was written by a woman and spurred my interest in the Eliza Dushku situation.

  10. 0

    This is an awesome list! I loved all the ones I’ve already seen, so I’ll probs love the rest, right? Putting all of these on my queue.

  11. 0

    Mean Girls showed me what it means to be “too gay to function” because I literally have moments like that.

  12. 0

    OMG CLOCKWATCHERS. I thought I was the only person who liked this movie.

    Also Desperately Seeking Susan. That was my favorite movie when I was 5. No joke. I loved Madonna so much.

    • 0

      Mine too! I made all my friends in middle school and high school watch it with me. None of them liked it nearly as much as I did. Madonna is amazing in this movie because she pretty much plays Madonna.

  13. 0

    A Velma Dinkley-Enid Coleslaw hybrid is my dream girl. No joke. We could share books and ugly sweaters and dislike all the same things.

  14. 0

    i have not seen six of these films…and “mean girls” is one of them.

    in other news: that promo poster for “girls just want to have fun” reminds me of trapper keepers.

  15. 0

    I love “Election” but it took me years to see it. Years. I didn’t see until it was on local TV a few years ago. I guess the HS/politics thing is why, but I associate it with “Dick.” That’s another good one: Kristen Dunst, Michelle Williams and Richard Nixon high on hello dollies.

    • 0

      YES! I actually thought about that movie when I saw this post. I can’t remember the ending though, just that it was hilarious.

  16. 0

    Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion, is pretty much my favorite comedy of all time. I quote this movie every day of my life.

    btw. if anybody needs to make a call, I’ve got a phone….

  17. 0

    FUCKIN SERIAL MOM YEAH

    I can’t look at Parker Posey’s unsafe gun handling in that photo. Booger hook off the bang switch, honey, and don’t be pointing that thing practically at your own heel. Hammer is cocked too, gives me the creeps.

      • 0

        I would not pose for a picture like that, I don’t care how many times they showed me it was unloaded. Remember kids, there’s no such thing as an unloaded gun :D.

  18. 0

    Romy and Michelle’s Highschool Reunion & Clueless were pretty much my favourite films ever when I was young. This list is making me feel nostalgic!

  19. 0

    These include some of my favorite movies ever!

    Also, I went to see Bridesmaids this weekend, and though it was hetero-centric, it was effing hilarious. Kristin Wigg is one of my new faves.

  20. 0

    I’m putting my vote in for ‘Dick’. because I loved it when I was 12. And I remember it being funny? It was, right? Anyways. Young Michelle Williams, such a cutie, roller skates, and teenage girls bringing down Richard Nixon.

  21. 0

    That’s so true about Mean Girls. Before I saw it, I must have missed so many references to that movie, because afterward I saw them fucking EVERYWHERE.

  22. 0

    Ugh, these are all my fav movies, but Romy and Michele’s singlehandedly made my middle school/high school existence survivable.

    “I DID NOT HAVE A THING. I was very much in love with him, very much in love, and there’s a difference. There’s a difference.”

  23. 0

    DOMINO, not a comedy but ridiculously awesome.

    Also, Love and Basketball and She’s the Man aren’t directed by women but still reside by my copies of A League of Their Own, But I’m a Cheerleader, Hard Candy, etc.

    If we’re not sticking completely to comedies Gia should be mentioned. Gia should be mentioned as many times as possible really. Gia
    Great list!!!!!!

  24. 0

    These are SO my type of movies. Romy & Michelle epitomizes my pre-teen years and Ghost World, my high school years. Awesome list!!

  25. 0

    Why nod to Tank Girl but not actually include Tank Girl? I feel cheated.

    Amazing list otherwise. Fun fact about Heathers is that the writer actually created an entire new language of teenslang for the film in order to make it more timeless… too bad he didn’t tell this to the costumer.

    ALSO, to be nitpicky, the folks in Saved! Were actually not born-agains. They were most likely Baptist as my fiance and I went to separate schools and/or churches that were EXACTLY like that one and they were both Baptist. If they were born-agains, the tongue-speaking would be much less of a surprise (See Jesus Camp).

    Agreed about Drop Dead Gorgeous needing to be a part of this… and what about JAWBREAKER?!?! This is where I first heard everyone’s favorite insult: carpetmuncher.

  26. 0

    Mean girls is the most quoteable movie of all time but it could not have happened without the best movie you will ever see, Heathers. i mean really, best. ever. end of story. christian slater is damn sexy (bi-pride woop woop, no? okay not the place)

  27. 0

    OMG I love Bend It Like Beckham. The girl that is not Keira is extremely cute. 🙂 Also Mean Girls, But I’m a Cheerleader, and Saved! rock. 🙂 Ooh and Clueless! Yay.

  28. 0

    Once I get over the fact that a dark comedy with Toni Collette AND Lisa Kudrow has been in existence all this time without my knowledge, I will update my Netflix queue with these awesome pics.

    Thanks, ladies!

  29. 0

    Um, and P.S. I totally picked up a copy of Mean Girls at a yard sale last weekend. I was SO excited about it and my (straight) cousin and aunt were looking at me like I was nuts.

    *love*

  30. 0

    Awesome list–thank you!

    It might be more of an ensemble cast thing, and is debatably a rom-com in one sense, but how’s about Miranda July’s stupendous, darkly humorous “Me and You and Everyone We Know?” BACK AND FORTH FOREVER, AMIRITE?

    Also, I know a lot of folks have totally legit issues with Almodovar’s more recent work, and the fact that it’s a dude at the helm might disqualify it from the running, but what about 1988’s “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown,” which is a smart, hilarious deconstruction of gender politics in telenovelas? Carmen Maura FTW.

  31. 0

    I’m gonna use the appropriate number of question marks and ask, Easy A??? And Whip it??

    Great list, though. Btw, I always see an inordinate number of kitten avatars in the comments. Cool.:)

  32. 0

    OMG! I *JUST* finished watching “The House of Yes” FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER. And I hadn’t even read this article yet.

    Thank you for the list of great flicks!

  33. 0

    Okay, so I hadn’t read the list before I posted that last comment, I just assumed that it was awesome because AS wrote it and then went back and read it to update my Netflix queue, and I then I discovered that all the movies fell in to two (almost equal) categories: a) awesome movies I have seen already and totally agree with, and b) movies that have been hiding in the depths of my Netflix queue already and are now bumped to the top.

    Wow. That was a single sentence.

  34. 0

    I feel like Legally Blonde should be on this list, because of how it made you think that a heterosexual relationship was the point of the movie but then it ultimately wasn’t. Also for just being awesome and hilarious.

  35. 0

    Welcome to the Doll House is my all time favourite flick! I brought it to a Cinema class once to watch and I’d say half of my peers were definitely weirded out. I’ve always identified with Dawn and her struggle against an unfair, shallow, materialistic world. She symbolizes the inward doubt; the lack of self-accpetance that most young girls and even women secretly harbour.

Comments are closed.