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

This weekend saw the release of Bridesmaids, the only funny movie ever made starring women. 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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Riese is the 39-year-old Co-Founder and CEO 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 and then headed West. 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 2855 articles for us.

127 Comments

  1. I love the ** on BUT I’M A CHEERLEADER. I’ve seen at least half of these movies and I’m only 16. Awesome!!

  2. 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!

    • MJ

      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.

      • Oh yeah, I mean sometimes non-Christians will like make fun of you and everything! Hard lyfe man. :(

    • 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?”

      • Keira Knightley is definitely a lesbian……….in my dreams. (No really, one time after watching Bend It Like Beckham I had a, uh, distinctly lesbionic dream about her.)

        • Sometimes I think that Keira Knightley made me a lesbian… First there was Bend It Like Beckham and then DOMINO…. Nobody talks about Domino enough…

          • JB

            Domino is wonderful. it is so underrated but Knightley is so hot in it.

          • Domino is so great and underrated. She’s amazing in it.

    • brackishtea

      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.

    • 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…

  3. Kat

    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.

  4. I’m going to be obsessively searching for these on netflix later tonight.

    • Oh man, I totally just added a bunch of these to my Netflix queue!! Bonus: a few of them are available for instant play, yay!

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

    • One time I spent an entire day communicating through nothing but Mean Girls quotes.

          • I loved Bridesmaids (saw it twice even) but it’s still not as quotable as Mean Girls. Definitely more laugh-out-loud moments though… don’t think I will ever be able to eat Brazilian food again.

          • Marceeahh

            STOP TRYING TO MAKE “FETCH” HAPPEN GRETCHEN! IT’S NOT GOING TO HAPPEN!

      • 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.

  6. AG

    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?

    • “oh piss on your hat”

      still one of my favourite movie moments. ever.

  7. aj

    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:)

    • Oh, good call! I’ve always hated the ending of the movie version of, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”

    • Drop Dead Gorgeous is the #1 greatest movie of all time. I’ve been telling people this since I was just knee high to a pig’s eye.

      • IKR!!!!! This is my second most quoted movie of all time (the first is Clueless, of course). I haven’t met very many people who appreciate the humor. :D

  8. oh yeah drop dead gorgeous! romy and michelle just tops this list for me.

  9. 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.

    • 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?

    • i feel super cool/yay because i thought carlytron was the only person who’d seen all the movies i’d seen

  10. 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.”

    • 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.

      • 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.

        • 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.

          • Liz

            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!

    • 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.

    • I watched but I’m a Cheerleader to pysch myself up for coming out to my friends. It worked!

  11. 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!

    • Also, Serial Mom might be my favorite John Waters film ever. What can I say? I’m possibly fucked up!

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

      • 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!

  12. I think I may be the only person on the planet who has not seen Mean Girls. I think I should fix this.

    • I felt like you, once. I was the last one in my entire class in grad school who hadn’t seen it. So I rented it. Feh. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t like it either. It was useful for teaching, however, because all my students had seen it and it pretty clearly demonstrated the concept of gender socialization.

      • I think this might be part of the reason I haven’t seen it yet, but then, maybe it will help me understand my students better.

  13. 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.

    • Eliza Dushku’s first scene in that movie was my FUCK IM GAY moment. Plus cheerleaders, and cheerocracys and cheertators!

      • I’ve heard this a number of times…Eliza Dushku making her way into the gym is apparently A Moment for a lot of homogays.

      • Oh god… I’m sorry Eliza Dushku… You also had a huge part in making me a homogay… Apologies for neglegting you in my earlier comment…

  14. 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.

  15. brackishtea

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

    • Exactly! It sometimes sums up my life so well I should get it tattooed.

  16. Love this movie. Saw it on my 14th bday & fell in love with Lori Petty!

  17. Ava

    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.

    • I own the dvd. Purchased it during my ‘I’mobsessed with Parker Posey and Gaby Hoffmann indie movies but I’m still straight’ phase…

    • 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. What about Lily Tomlin in The Incredible Shrinking Women? That’s a pretty decent movie PLUS it has Lily Tomlin! Who can go wrong with Lily Tomlin?

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

  22. Mix

    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….

  23. 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.

    • I guarantee that’s intentional. That movie was decidedly unhinged.

      • 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.

  24. 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!

    • Erin

      Me too! I almost have every line in Romy & Michelle’s memorized. It’s a classic.

  25. 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.

  26. For the love of Toni Collette, what about Muriel’s Wedding? Weird and awkward Aussie humor ftw!

  27. enn

    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.

  28. This list is awesome! The only thing it’s missing is Spring Breakdown, the greatest movie of all time.

  29. 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.

  30. 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.”

  31. 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!!!!!!

  32. Erin

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

  33. 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.

  34. BestDamnTapper

    Also, I would put Hairspray somewhere on there!
    And Mamma Mia.

  35. rararawr

    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)

  36. 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.

  37. 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!

  38. 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*

  39. 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.

  40. JuneBug

    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.:)

  41. JuneBug

    Ooooohh…now I have one too. There’s gotta be a connection here….

  42. 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!

  43. 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.

  44. AJ

    How did Fried Green Tomatoes not make this list?

  45. 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.

  46. Adhunter

    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.

  47. lsh

    WOW, some of those hit * way* closer than I remember. I’ve just rewatched “Pretty Persuasion” and “Election” and they seem like prescient dystopic visions of the world.
    I’ll leave a couple of articles here that say it better than I do :
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/01/movies/tracy-flick-reese-witherspoon.html
    https://i-d.vice.com/en_us/article/qvbvv3/underrated-dark-teen-comedy-pretty-persuasion-is-more-relevant-than-ever-in-2017

    So, nine years later, thank you for this list <3

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