Review: 'Good Girls Revolt' gives spotlight to 'nasty' newswomen of the '60s
In 1970, more than 40 women sued the magazine Newsweek for gender discrimination. They were told "women don't write here."
These women had graduated with honors from prestigious colleges and were often more capable writers than their male colleagues.
But they were kept behind the front lines of reporting; running mail carts, clipping stories for archives, fact-checking and even doing interviews for "their reporters."
These women — researchers as they were called at the highest level they could achieve — had enough of doing the work only to have their male colleagues get all the credit.
Amazon's Good Girls Revolt dramatizes the landmark sexual discrimination case that happened during the major cultural revolutions of the 1970s. It's inspired by the book The Good Girls Revolt from Lynn Povich, who was one of the ringleaders of the original lawsuit against Newsweek.
The icing on this feminist cake is its trio of executive producers, all women: Dana Calvo, Darlene Hunt and Lynda Obst.
Each of the researchers who sue the fictitious News of the Week in Good Girls Revolt bring something different to the equality table.
Whip-smart Patti Robinson (Genevieve Angelson) brings a progressive eye and a "we're not going to take it anymore" spirit. Jane Hollander (Anna Camp) becomes the alpha after realizing her society life has set her up for too many let downs.
And shy Cindy Reston (Erin Darke) uses the lawsuit — and the attractive photo editor — as means of realizing her potential and escaping an unhappy marriage.
It's impossible to not compare this period drama to AMC's hit drama Mad Men. But while Mad Men grabbed the ‘60s and ‘70s by the horns and put a spotlight on the fashion, culture and blatant sexism in the workplace, Good Girls Revolt is more subtle.
The subtlety is often powerful, but I would've liked to see more intensity in what these women are fighting for and fighting against. These themes are so relevant in our culture right now, I hope the show takes on more poignancy reflecting on how far we've come and how much farther we need to go.
Workplace culture was an aspect of Mad Men, perfectly woven into the tales of Manhattan's ad men. Good Girls Revolt takes that theme and runs with it, creating an entire show about women fighting for bylines they wholly deserve.
The inequality at News of the Week is both literal and figurative. The women researchers sit physically lower to their male reporter counterparts in "the pit." These women often find whole paragraphs lifted from their research and plopped into a story their reporter gets the credit for.
While they spend hours and days researching, interviewing subjects and writing their findings, the male reporters often just do a quick look over the stories before pasting their bylines in for print.
"I don't want to just watch the news, I want to be a part of it," Patti exclaims.
Their request is simple: let us write (and get credit for it, of course). But each woman who signs her name to the lawsuit goes through the internal turmoil of if the decision she's making is the right one. Their champion is Eleanor Holmes Norton (Joy Bryant) the IRL ACLU attorney who sees the women as the ideal plaintiffs for the first class-action sexual discrimination case in the country.
Like that other show depicting the ‘60 and ‘70s, Good Girls Revolt is beautifully shot. You won't feel like you're watching actors in costumes. The newsroom, the homes and parties feel lived in.
You'll sink your teeth into this show for the sounds of typewriters and news moving over the wires as well as the fashion and loveable characters established through group dynamics and individual focus. Even Grace Gummer as Nora Ephron, who has a relatively short part, remains an inspiration for the rioting researchers. But you'll be hooked when you realize the issues tackled 40-some years ago are similar to what our country faces today.
These women are realizing their potential and legal and cultural rights for the first time. Some of the best moments see Cindy discovering the deliciousness of Claret lemonade and seeing what she looks like "down there." Her conversation with photo editor Ned Stockton about not feeling beautiful after seeing her own parts leads to one of the most erotic scenes one can have while Black Sabbath is blaring in the background.
Good Girls Revolt mixes the culture of Mad Men with a dash of Broad City and Girls — young women experiencing their first tastes of sexual freedom and power in New York City, upending friendships, marriages and the workplace all at the same time.
Good Girls Revolt is available at midnight on Oct. 28 on Amazon.
Contact Chelsea Tatham at [email protected] Follow @chelseatatham.