Last night was the annual Primetime Emmy Awards, a celebration of some of the most brilliant stars from television and the kick-off to television’s new fall season.

So, what do we have to look forward to? Among the stable of go-to reality shows, reliable comedies and good-cop/bad-cop dramas, this fall there will be over 20 new shows of which 15 will feature women as lead characters. Looking back on our favorite hits over the years, it doesn’t seem like women have been left out of the picture, but this season marks one of the strongest for women in recent history.

According to the 2010 Census results, women make up almost 51% of the U.S. population, but last year on American television women only made up about 41% of all characters. This was actually a decline from the 2007 season where female characters accounted for a historical high of 43%. It is likely that with the group of new shows hitting the airwaves this 2011-2012 season, women will make up a little lost ground.

What we find most exciting in this crop of new shows is the way women are being depicted… empowered, intelligent, tough and funny. Although you can still find the bimbo, the housewife and the old lady, we love that the networks are looking deeper and are creating stories revolving around strong women characters. Among the female focused programs premiering this week and next, these seem to be some of the most talked about:

FOX has hipster Zooey Deschanel at the center of it’s new show New Girl, where she lives with the boys, but doesn’t have to try and act like one.

NBC makes Christina Applegate a television executive party girl turned wife and mother in Up All Night. Also we can find on NBC Prime Suspect starring Maria Bello as a “tough-as-nails detective” in this reimagined version of the hit British TV series and Whitney, a comedy starring snarky, stand-up comedienne Whitney Cummings.

CBS has Two Broke Girls, also created by Whitney Cummings, featuring Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs trying to make it in Brooklyn, New York and Unforgettable a show starring Poppy Montgomery as an NYPD detective who remembers everything.

ABC’s revival of Charlie’s Angels and new series Pan-Am are among the frontrunners.

Rachel Bilson makes a come back to the small screen in the CW’s Hart of Dixie, where she plays a NYC doctor who ends up practicing medicine down south.

So, check your TV Guide, clear your calendar, set your DVR and tune in to catch some of these women to watch this season!

*Women in television statistics can be found at The Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film