I only watched GirlBoss because I recently read a magazine article that discussed its costumes. I’m always looking for new Netflix binges and I had recently finished the fourth season of the fantastic Brooklyn Nine Nine.
The first episode immediately turned me off of it, but I kept watching. It was better than nothing and I had no interest in starting up Orange is the New Black again.
Every episode begins saying ‘This is loosely based on real life events’ etc etc. It makes me want to read the book this is based on, but I don’t want to support anything else related to this series.
Let’s get right into it.
Girlboss centers around Sophia, a 23-year-old college dropout who’s doing shit-all with her life (I only half relate because I hate being unemployed) and is a huge asshole. She even admits it about 15-minutes into episode one. She lives in San Francisco in the early 2000s where Nokia phones are still big and apparently spacious apartments are still affordable.
Only just surviving, she spends what little cash she has on vintage fashion from used-clothing stores. One day, she finds a highly-coveted jacket that she flips on eBay for $1200 or something. Realizing it’s a possible business, she decides to continue that formula and begins an eBay store.
There’s also some side-story about her having a hernia but that gets resolved half-way through the season.
The rest of the show depicts the stifles and struggles Sophia goes through in order to maintain and expand her start-up (before they were called start-ups). She manages to secure a boyfriend, move into a ‘real office,’ and incite drama with her loved ones because she is a huge, selfish asshole.
Honestly, now that I’m reflecting on it, it’s shocking to think how little happens in the series.
Surprisingly, the cinematography is rather revolutionary. The series relies on older-versions of the websites and the internet in general. A web forum is depicted creatively via the posters talking at a round-table. Instant messaging puts two characters alone in a white room. Camera angles are different and unconventional – it kept me interested.
The writing is fair. It’s not going to win an Emmy, but I’m sure it’s getting through to someone. Side characters are clever but not terribly cliche – I enjoy the gay, black next-door neighbour, the gay art student, and said student’s mom. Secondary characters, such as Annie and Dex, make for fascinating B-stories outside of Sophia’s A-story bullshit.
The acting is good. Britt Robertson (Sophia) certainly makes me want to punch her in the face. Ellie Reed as Annie is a delight in all the depressing shit this series stirs up. She’s annoyingly dumb, but she’s a delight.
It’s watchable. That’s all I can say. It’s fine background television for cleaning the house or doing some crafts.
Anything Sophia does.
Anything Sophia says.
How people put up with Sophia’s shit.
The fashion choices of the era this story is based in. There are way too many flared pants in this show.
I’m sure you’ve seen or heard about all these dumb articles stating ‘Millennials are ruining X,’ ‘Millennials are killing the Y industry,’ etc etc. The baby boomers categorize Millennials as lazy, do-nothing college kids, who are obsessed with their phones, only drink Starbucks, and either live at home or are in ridiculous debt trying to live in trendy cities.
Wow! Isn’t it crazy that that description is basically Sophia? Who knew that the Millennials of lore could be found back in the early 2000s in San Francisco! She’s lazy! She’s in the gig economy! She’s obsessed with her, constantly checking her eBay page! She spends a lot of money on fancy coffee! She’s got the biggest, most egotistical attitude on this side of Netflix.
I guess college kids watching Girlboss today could relate to the lost-in-life, don’t-know-what-I’m-doing feeling that Sophia exhibits in the first few episodes, but I haven’t met anyone who’s as much of an asshole as her.
There’s a lot of talk right now about I Hear She’s A Real Bitch, a memoir by famous restaurateur Jen Agg about being a woman in the food industry. I believe there’s a firm difference between a strong, independent woman asserting her place in a male-dominated industry, and being an asshole. Jen Agg is the former, Sophia from Girlboss is strictly the latter.
That’s the real ‘bad’ of Girlboss: I can’t sympathize with a protagonist when they’re asshole. I don’t care if the whole world is against her – I have no pity for a jerk. It’s not even a ‘love to hate them’ kind of character – I do not enjoy Sophia’s story. She does somewhat learn from her mistakes and has some character development, but not enough for me to feel anything.
Honestly, I’d love for Sophia to fail. I’d get no better satisfaction of her getting slammed back into reality and realizing her ambitions are fruitless with her current attitude.
But I’m also a cynic and I like seeing characters suffer because it’s more dynamic than story-telling norms.
Girlboss is one of those series that you forget the next day. It’s not gonna stay with me unless I see one of the actors in something else and I try to remember what I know them from.
If it gets another season, I don’t know if I’ll watch it. There’s very little story leftover, IMO, that could be filmed. I wouldn’t be surprised if season one covered the whole book.
I firmly believe it’s possible to write a story about a female protagonist who isn’t a bitch/asshole/jerk but gets shit done. Is it just some strange dichotomy of story telling mixed with today’s societal standards about women? Is it a belief by Hollywood executives that a story about a nice woman won’t be profitable?
Maybe, but until an epiphany passes through the entertainment industry, we’re stuck with stories like Girlboss.
What a world.