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Senior Life

The “Silver” Screen: Top TV Shows Starring Women Over 50

Sure, you can get great senior discounts at your local movie theater, but sometimes you just want to stay in the comfort of your own home, curled up on the couch with TV friends. Fortunately, with today’s at-your-fingertips selection of classics like “Golden Girls” & made-for-Netflix series like “Grace and Frankie,” you’re bound to find characters as relatable as they are entertaining.

With that in mind, has assembled a list of some of our favorite TV shows – old and new – featuring older women in starring roles.

In Their 50s


Happy Valley: Sarah Lancashire, 51, stars as a determined police sergeant in West Yorkshire, England, struggling to piece together a mysterious kidnapping in her district. The show has been a runaway hit with critics, praised both for its writing and for Lancashire’s ability to bring it to life. Where to watch: Netflix.

Cougar Town: Courteney Cox (52 years old in real life) plays a divorced woman coming to terms with re-entering the dating scene in a culture increasingly obsessed with youth and beauty. It’s a classic tale of a mixed-up life – mixed with a whole lot of wine. Where to watch: TBS, iTunes, Amazon Video and Google Play.

Veep: Starring 55-year-old Julia Louis-Dreyfus of “Seinfeld” fame, this whip-smart political satire has been a critical darling of the television scene since Episode One. Where to watch: HBO.

House of Cards: Co-starring Robin Wright, 50, as the wife of a wickedly ambitious congressman, this searing political drama established a cult following after its debut in 2013. Where to watch: Netflix.

Weeds: This cult show followed the unexpected path of Nancy Botwin, a California housewife who begins dealing marijuana after the sudden death of her husband leaves her substantially in debt. Mary-Louise Parker, 52, won a Golden Globe in the title role. Where to watch: Showtime.

Orange is the New Black: From the same creator as “Weeds,” Jenji Kohan, this series has been praised as one of the strongest female ensemble casts ever assembled. Chronicling life in a minimum security women’s prison, this dark comedy has won the hearts and minds of both audiences and critics. Of special note is Kate Mulgrew as “Red” Reznikov, the maternal Russian with a heart of gold – sometimes. Where to watch: Netflix.

In Their 60s


Murder, She Wrote: With Angela Lansbury (above) as Jessica Fletcher, the show followed the antics of a murder-mystery novelist who found herself in the middle of a new caper every week. The show ran on CBS from 1984 to 1996 but lives on in pop culture – and now, streaming TV. Where to watch: DVD and, after a mysterious disappearance, Netflix again.

Golden Girls: One of the archetypes of the genre, “Golden Girls” remains one of the best-written comedies in TV history, perennially making critics’ best-of lists to this day. With the advent of digital streaming services, the show has seen a huge resurgence in popularity as a new generation of fans discovers its timeless – and ageless – sense of humor. Where to watch: Amazon Video and Vudu.

In Their 70s and 80s

Maggie Smith as Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham, in "Downton Abbey," to illustrate an article on TV shows starring women over 50.

Maggie Smith as Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham, in “Downton Abbey.” (Courtesy of ©Nick Briggs/Carnival Film and Television Limited 2015 for Masterpiece)

Downton Abbey: Who could guess that a post-Edwardian historical drama set in Yorkshire, England, would become a cultural touchstone? Featuring a heavily female cast spanning several generations, the series portrays a fascinating look at an aristocratic family struggling to maintain a way of life in an ever-changing world. Fans especially love 81-year-old Maggie Smith as the Dowager Countess. Where to watch: Amazon Prime and via PBS / Masterpiece (online, DVD and Blu-ray, and download).

Last Tango In Halifax: Written by Sally Wainwright of “Happy Valley” fame, this romantic drama was inspired by witnessing her mother’s happiness at finding love later in life. The series follows two childhood sweethearts who, after being apart for 60 years, find each other through Facebook and discover that their feelings are as strong as ever. Where to watch: PBS and Amazon Video.

Grace and Frankie: Starring Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, this show revolves around two women who form an unlikely bond after their husbands of several decades elects to remarry … each other. With a supporting cast bolstered by Sam Waterston and Martin Sheen, this is can’t-miss television. Where to watch: Netflix.

Did We Miss Your Favorite Show?

What other TV shows starring women over 50 would you recommend? Tell us in the comments below.

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