Good Girls Revolt
Streaming on Amazon Prime
2016 | TV-MA | 1 Season, 9 episodes
Genre: True-Story Drama
Why I watched: I watched this show when it first aired and, like many other viewers, was infuriated when Amazon announced they wouldn't be pursuing a second season. But when former Amazon boss Roy Price—who personally axed the show—was fired in the wake of accusations of sexual harassment toward a female producer, it all started to make sense. I decided to rewatch when murmurings of a second season hit social media. Even though we likely won't get a revival, there are plenty of reasons to enjoy (or enjoy again!) this show. Not the least of which is that it tells a story that deserves to be heard.
You might also like: I'd suggest you pair the single season of Good Girls Revolt with the book that inspired it. Skip Amazon and purchase Lynn Povich's The Good Girls Revolt: How the Women of Newsweek Sued their Bosses and Changed the Workplace from Barnes and Noble or find it at your local library.
Good Girls Revolt is based on the true story of the landmark sex discrimination lawsuit that 46 women filed against Newsweek (formally News of the Week) in 1970. The first season chronicles the women as they become increasingly more dissatisfied with the inability to serve as reporters in the wake of a series of significant cultural moments, from the Vietnam War to counterculture protests to the women's liberation movement. According to The Atlantic, the show received numerous positive reviews, a 4.5 star rating from more than 18,000 viewers, and was selected by Newsweek as one of its favorite TV shows of 2016. Also: It has an unheard of 96% positive audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Still, just five weeks after it premiered, the all-male board at Amazon Video cancelled it because it "underperformed."
Thankfully, the first ten episodes give us a nearly perfect narrative arc that leads up to the lawsuit and in doing so makes us really care about the women. Patti Robinson (Genevieve Angelson) is vibrant and unexpected, embodying an era of psychedelics and free love. The perfectly-put-together and brilliant Jane Hollander (Anna Camp) only plans to work until she finds a husband. Cindy Reston (Erin Darke) is enjoying her last year on the job before her husband wants her to become a mother. Nora Ephron (Grace Gummer)—yes, the Nora Ephron—wants to write, no matter what the rules. Despite their commitment to Newsweek and their passion for the magazine, the women are tired of doing all of the grunt work without any of the credit, of being underestimated for their gender. And so, when Patti and Cindy meet a young ACLU attorney Eleanor Holmes Norton (Parenthood's Joy Bryant), it doesn't take much to convince the two that they are on solid legal ground for filing a suit. Convincing everyone else? Now, that's a different story.
"We report, investigate, and write files for the reporter," Patti says, "They do a pass, write their names on them, and then the stories go to press." No matter how much the women care about the stories they're telling or the men that they're working with—although, there are more than a few scumbags amongst the male cohort—at the end of the day, they have to fight back against the unfairness of the system in which they're laboring. But while the show offers you a glimpse into a bygone era for women in which they're routinely harassed, paid less than men for the same work, and treated as second-class citizens by their husbands, fathers, and the U.S. government, it also reminds us that so many of the issues plaguing women in 1969 haven't changed at all. The lack of affordable childcare, the inability to get equal pay, and the constant subjection to sexual harassment feel just as fresh to today's workplace; take away the Jimmy Hendrix, print dresses, and ashtrays, and this might be 2018.
This show isn't nearly as didactic as I made it sound from the above. The wardrobe and sets are delightful, the timeline of historic events is fun, the soundtrack is a blast from the past, and there are more than a few juicy melodramatic plots tucked in there—workplace sex and romance, affairs, pregnancy scares, etc. In short, in addition to being important, this show is also a lot of fun!
Happy streaming! Liz