One of the most striking differences between Amazon’s Good Girls Revolt and AMC’s landmark series Mad Men, which the former will inevitably receive countless comparisons to, lies in how the two series choose to focus on the past. While Mad Men immediately took us into a world that was entirely different from the one we live in, Good Girls Revolt seems to be a great deal more focused on using the past as a lens with which to view the present. Sure, there are cigarettes aplenty and printed minidresses every which way you look, but at the heart of it all are the titular girls, and the issues they’re facing are remarkably similar to problems facing women today.
At the fictional offices of News of the World, women are hired as “researchers,” while the men are hired as “reporters.” The difference, as explained by free-spirited researcher Patti (Genevieve Angelson), is that “we report, investigate, and write files for the reporters; they do a pass, write their names on them, and then the stories go to press.” When Nora Ephron (Grace Gummer) dares to rewrite a reporter’s piece, it leads to a standoff with the show’s stereotypical sexist, Wick (Jim Belushi), that sees Ephron quitting to find a job where she can do what she’s there to do: write.
Ephron’s defiance plants the seeds of rebellion in the minds of News of the Week‘s “good girls” — the mind-bogglingly uptight (even for Anna Camp) Jane; the mousy, irresistibly lovable Cindy (Erin Darke); and the pot-loving hippie whose skirts are definitely not office-sanctioned, Patti. Gummer’s Ephron, though not a central character on the series, is also the one who introduces the women to ACLU lawyer Eleanor Holmes Norton (Joy Bryant), who actually defended the woman of Newsweek in their discrimination suit against the publication.
While the series may not be Mad Men, and it certainly has some issues with intersectional feminism, it’s a little too timely to write off for any naiveté or penchant for cliché that it may display. With the entire first season debuting less than two weeks from Election Day, a show putting “nasty women” (or, in this case, good girls who are surely nasty women in training) front and center, and focusing on issues like equal pay and reproductive freedom seems more relevant than ever. And just like this election, it’s all been put into motion by a Wellesley woman (Ephron, Clinton) who is fed up.
As Donald Trump sounds off on what types of punishment women should be subjected to for having had an abortion, it’s refreshing to see a character like Cindy figure out what to do about suspicions that her husband may have pierced a hole into her diaphragm. As Donald Trump tweets out in the middle of the night to “check out sex tape,” it’s important to hear these women argue that a female source’s past promiscuity shouldn’t automatically negate her reliability. As Donald Trump brags about grabbing women “by the p***y,” it’s great to see women like Cindy reach for their compact, lift their skirts, and handle their own vulvas for a change.
Amazon’s new show has some room for improvement, especially with regard to race and inclusivity, but it has a lot of potential and it’s plenty enjoyable, especially in this dismal political climate. In 1969, good girls may have revolted; in 2016, nasty women vote.