Reviewing: Good Girls Revolt

good-girls-revolt

If you read my post from yesterday reviewing the book, The Good Girls Revolt: How the Women of Newsweek Sued their Bosses and Changed the Workplace, then you are up to speed on the story that served as the inspiration for the Amazon show, Good Girls Revolt.

The show premiered on Amazon on October 28 and is billed as, “A look at the personal and professional lives of employees at an American news magazine in the late 1960s.” But what it really is, is a show that took historical events and built a fictional story full of sex, scandal, feminist awakenings, world change and social upheaval around it. And you would think I would hate this, but I actually love this show.

In the beginning we are introduced to the main players of the show, specifically Patti Robinson (Genevieve Angelson), a passionate career-girl and hippy who is a researcher for writer Douglas Rhodes (Hunter Parrish), with whom she is intimate with. We also meet Jane Hollander (Anna Camp) who is the star researcher at News of the Week, and is also the daughter of well-to-do parents who see her job as simply a pit stop on the road to homemaking. Cindy Reston (Erin Darke) is already a homemaker with a law-student husband who is working as a researcher and photo assistant at the magazine until her husband’s career takes off. And finally, we have Finn Woodhouse (Chris Diamantopoulos), the publisher of News of the Week.

In the beginning the show seems to follow a Mad-Men style, showing the complicated and steamy relationships that seem to grow between writers and their researchers when they are having to work such long hours together. It becomes clear that although the women may receive passing praise for their work in gathering information from sources, they are never fully recognized for the extent of their contributions to the final stories. This becomes even more apparent when the newly hired Nora Ephron (Grace Gummer) rewrites a story and is denied her byline. This turning point opens up a new world of feminist awakening for Patti and Cindy and they soon meet Eleanor Holmes Norton (Joy Bryant) who tells them they have a discrimination case against their employers if they want it.

The most intriguing and entertaining thing about this show is the development and variety of the characters and their stories throughout the show. Patti’s is the confident, sexy, free-spirit of the newsroom who could very well be a poster-child for the 1960s. I think Angelson does a wonderful job of portraying her freedom and unaffected nature while also showing her wild passion and outrage at both the treatment she receives at work and that of the civil rights movement as a whole. Jane and Cindy represent two ends of a spectrum that was prominent during that era: the homemaker to be and the homemaker that is. In Jane we see the effect of societal pressures to marry well and settle down as soon as possible. She is beautiful and smart, but also prim and proper with a whole lot of holier-than-thou attitude toward her fellow researchers. But this is soon broken when she loses the immediate hope of her long-stressed-for future and finds in herself the capability and possibility that she can do more with, and get more from, her life. Camp was a vision throughout the film and was sincere and focused in her acting. Truly wonderful.

My absolute favorite character in this show is Cindy. She has such an arc of change in which she realizes several realities about her life, struggles in dealing with them, and eventually blossoms into a strong, self-assured, confident and capable woman. You can’t help but root for her, even when she’s making bad decisions, because you know it’s what she needs to do to let herself have the life she wants and deserves.

While the show is rife with affairs and scandals, it mainly relies on the organic drama of the era and the major historical events that happened then, which mesh seamlessly with the energy of the newsroom to give it more of a realistic quality than simply delineating it into a tawdry sex-drama. I don’t think I’ve ever been more inspired in my feminist interests than I was watching this show — the scandals only made it better.

Season one ends with the women reading their complaint at the press conference and Finn receiving the complaint to find most of his women, including the one he is having an affair with, have signed the document. I think this was a great way to end the season, although the show’s future is currently undecided, as Amazon has refused to renew it. Could the irony be more apparent?

I sincerely hope some company will pick up this show, because it is, in my opinion, one of the best shows out there, on any platform.

What did you think of Good Girls Revolt? Do you think the historical impact of the work by the real women of Newsweek was preserved in the show? Do you think the portrayal of women and their lives during the 1960s and 70s was accurate? What do you think will happen with the show in the future? Let’s talk.

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