An endless war, massive civil inequality, and the role of news media serve as the backdrop to Good Girls Revolt. Produced by Tristar and Amazon, Good Girls premiered in October of 2016. The show begins in late 1969. The Vietnam war is in the midst of spiraling further into disaster. Although civil rights took a turn for the better on the surface, civil unrest is at a boiling point. And a growing need to cover the news of the world forced the male-dominated news industry to include more women. But inclusion doesn’t mean equal footing. That disconnect is at the heart of Good Girls Revolt.
Created by Dana Calvo, Good Girls Revolt roots itself in real-life events. The story centers around News of the Week, a magazine losing ground to younger, more in-touch publications like Rolling Stone. Though the need to update the paper is great, the boss doesn’t open the door to women. Only men are writers, and females are regulated to low-level roles even when their skills and experience are equal to or better than their male counterparts.
The battle for equality at News of the Week centers on a group of talented young women.
Patti Robinson (Genevieve Angelson) is a strong, emerging journalist. Jane (Anna Camp), a prudish woman from a wealthy family, and Cindy Reston (Erin Darke) a shy, sexually repressed caption writer. The dynamic between these women and the rest of their group is what drives the show. But Good Girls Revolt also features a group of male characters who aren’t merely stereotyped male antagonists.
Good Girls Revolt does more than just represent an important aspect of the feminist movement. It’s a historical drama about the counterculture movement that isn’t trying to win nostalgia points. As a historical drama, there are elements of reality. One of those elements is the character of Nora Ephron played by Grace Gummer. If that name sounds familiar, it should. Nora Ephron is a writer, director, and producer behind movies like Silkwood (1981) When Harry Met Sally (1989), Sleepless In Seattle (1993), and a lot more. Ephron’s character weaves in and out of the story as sort of a point of inspiration and confidence for the female leads.
The historical connection comes from the real life story of the show’s writer Lynn Povich. A journalist for 40 years, Povich was the first woman Senior Editor of Newsweek magazine. Povich achieved this after she and a group of women at the magazine sued for equal treatment. Povich’s lawsuit underscores the entire season as the girls gather their resources and gain allies in their effort for fairness.
Good Girls Revolt isn’t perfect, but for a first season, it’s impressively sharp throughout.
The writing and performances make clear the motivations of each character. It builds character and story momentum with equal balance. Examinations of feminism, counterculture, and evolving sexual roles for a foundation throughout the season. The use of an original score and music of the time is well-done. It’s also not shy about sex or drug use. Debauchery appeals to me, but it’s something to consider if you’re looking for family-friendly entertainment.
A lot of critics have compared Good Girls Revolt to Mad Men. It makes sense. The shows are period pieces with really adult, dynamic stories. Both shows feature a broad range of characters with intersecting agendas. It’s safe to say, with a comparison to Mad Men, Good Girls Revolt is off to an incredible start.
Season one of Good Girls Revolt is available on Amazon Prime.