GOOD GIRLS REVOLT Review: Episodes 1-4

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There is nothing subtle about . Just look at the title. We all know what this show is going to be about. These women in the tail end of the ‘60s are tired of being the good girls, and there is only one thing left to do. The inevitability of the plot, combined with the bright and flashy look of the 60s make Good Girls Revolt almost too forward with its message, hitting the nail just too close to the head. However, the strength of that message and the joy of the era make the lack of subtlety a good thing. Once you get past the surface of cliches and horn-rimmed glasses, Good Girls Revolt is off to a great start in becoming wonderfully feminist romp.

The show is set just south of non-fiction, in a magazine aptly titled News of the Week (definitely not Newsweek, no way, no how), where the men are reporters and the women are their researchers. The inequality is clear from the beginning of the pilot when the new hires are a bumbling fool and unreasonably clever Nora Ephron (yes that Nora Ephron), and she is placed to work under him. Nora (Grace Gummer) joins the the other researchers Patti (Genevieve Anderson), a poster girl for counter-culture, Jane (Anna), the rich overachiever eyeing marriage, and Cindy (Erin Darke), just the sweetest girl who is about to go on a wild journey of self-discovery. These three women are the heart of the show and make for its best moments.

These good girls are on the cusp of revolting, let me tell you. Credit: Amazon

When the show shies away from Patti, Jane, and Cindy, it becomes somewhat weaker. For the most part, there is a lovely role reversal where the men are only regarded in their relationship to women. It’s how it should be on a show like this one. However, there are moments that break this. The fourth episode, “Out of Pocket” ends with a clash between two top honchos at News of the Week. It’s very important to the plot, but falls incredibly flat because it’s just two men in suits yelling at each other. We’ve seen this before, over and over again. Finn (Chris Diamantopoulos), the editor-in-chief, breaks glass in his anger, which I’d love to think is a metaphor for the glass ceiling that all the women are breaking, but who can say.

That same episode provided one of the best moments of the show. Cindy, trapped in a passionless marriage, is trying to discover her sexuality. She locks herself in her bedroom and cautiously masturbates for the first. It’s a small, lovely moment that signifies the importance of the show. These women are allowed to do what no one said they could do; they can create their own pleasure. The scene is played excellently by Darke, combining the innocence with the joy of discovery, and making Cindy the most endearing character on the show. Contrasting this scene with the scene Finn crashing the glass shows the inherent strengths and weaknesses of Good Girls Revolt. If the show revels in the moment of self-discovery and finding pleasure over those of frankly boring masculine action, it will live up to its potential.

Two boring dudes being boring. Classic. Credit: Amazon

The same holds true of the major plot points. The more focus on the women, the better. The best and most climactic moment of the pilot is when Nora stands up to Wick (Jim Belushi), the grouchy old school editor. He compliments her article, when he believes it was written by a man, but when she tells him it was her who wrote it, he refuses to print it. Nora is not having any of that (she’s going to write When Harry Met Sally, she doesn’t need him) and quits the magazine in front of everyone. While that means we don’t get to see as much of Nora, it starts a movement. Nora introduces Patti and Cindy to Eleanor (Joy Bryant) a civil rights lawyer, who tells them they have a case against the magazine. Slowly, over the next few episodes, Patti and Cindy start spreading the word around the suit, seeing if they can get women in the office to finally demand what is rightfully theirs.

This is the throughline of the series so far, and the one that holds the most weight. Unfortunately, not enough time is devoted to it, and it doesn’t really pick up until episode three. Too much time is devoted to Patti’s reporter/boyfriend Doug (Hunter Parrish), a young man with some pretty old values about gender and race. It’s never clear if we are supposed to like Doug, but he is about as exciting as mayonnaise. Contrasting that with the excitement Patti rallies from other women at News of the Week by telling them they deserve more, or Cindy gaining enough confidence to admit that she can be a writer, it makes the Doug storyline fall even flatter.

“Yes, I have a question: when can we revolt?” Credit: Amazon

One of the most intriguing aspects of the women rallying the other women is Patti trying to get Jane to join them. Jane is a society gal, planning on leaving work to get married, but is an immense talent. She also has the class character background of being a rich girl without emotional parental support. That combined with her boyfriend not proposing will hopefully lead to her joining forces with the other women, and defining herself by more than just her money and the men in her life. Which is a lesson the show could really learn from.

As the season progresses, hopefully there will be more screentime for Eleanor, who, as a lawyer for the ACLU is fully aware of her rights and autonomy as a woman. It’s also important to note that she is the only major character who isn’t white in the series so far. Though Good Girls Revolt is mostly centered around white women, it does acknowledge how race plays into both the era and the feminism. Eleanor’s character is the most confident of all the women, the most forward thinking in the movement. Luckily Good Girls Revolt does not pretend that white women invented feminism, and Eleanor is the proof of that. There is also the only interesting plot Doug has ever been a part of, where he interviews a member of the Black Panthers. The show is trying to show how journalism institutions were biased when reporting about race and once again, Good Girls Revolt had no trace of subtlety.

In this situation, however, the lack of subtlety is a net positive for the show. Due to the fact that there still is incredible racial bias in reporting and women still get paid less than men, subtlety isn’t what we need when it comes to these issues. There’s something almost refreshing about Good Girls Revolt inability to beat around the bush. It knows what the message is, and knows that it’s what’s important. As long as it can stick to the stories of inequality and empowerment, Good Girls Revolt should be able to do more than hold its own.

TB-TV-Grade-B

Season 1, Episode 1-4 (S01E01-04)
Good Girls Revolt is now streaming on Amazon Prime

Read all of our reviews of Good Girls Revolt here. 
Read our reviews of more of your favorite shows here.


Raina spends most of her time watching television and trying to find the perfect bagel and lox, because she likes being emotionally distraught.
Follow Raina on Twitter: @ItsRainaingMen
Keep up with all of Raina’s reviews here.

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