A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the Canadian drama Bomb Girls highlights some of the social barriers that women faced when they replaced men in factories during WWII. It contains lots of sexual innuendo, including references to sexual activity, as well as violent scenes (punching, attempted sexual assault, drowning) against women. Adultery, lesbianism, and pregnancy are also themes. Bombs occasionally detonate, and factory accidents lead to some bloody wounds and other injuries. Drinking, drunken behavior, and lots of cigarette smoking is common. Despite all of this, the series is rather mild in comparison to some American dramas, and contains strong, empowering messages about women's roles.
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What's the story?
BOMB GIRLS is a dramatic series about the experiences of a group of Canadian women at an Ontario bomb factory during World War II. When Gladys Witham (Jodi Balfour), an engaged socialite with a rebellious streak, goes to work at Victory Munitions, she finds herself surrounded by strong working women like Betty McRae (Ali Liebert), the flirtatious Vera Burr (Anastasia Phillips), and Edith McCallum (Lisa Norton), all of whom question her motives for being there. Also joining the "Blue Shift" is newcomer Kate Andrews (Charlotte Hegele), an innocent girl with a lovely voice who is hiding from an abusive past. Keeping them in check on the factory floor is Lorna Corbett (Meg Tilly), who tows a strict line in order to protect them from the dangers of the job, while tolerating the scorn of management and the impact of the war on her family. It isn't easy, especially when they're surrounded by men like Antonio Cupo (Marco Maretti), who spend as much time insulting the women as they do bomb making. Despite all of this, the women work hard to support the war effort, and try to create a life for themselves that offers them choices and independence.
Is it any good?
Part docudrama, part soap-opera, Bomb Girls offers an entertaining interpretation of Canadian factory women's experiences during WWII, which includes doing the jobs that the men usually did, and coping with having loved ones go to war. Central to the show are the multiple issues that factory women faced at the time, including sexual harassment, poor working conditions, and the constant need to prove themselves to a society who viewed their role in the workforce as being both temporary and of limited value.
Both the factory and the cast are uber-stylized, which creates the sense that the series is offering a sanitized and somewhat glamorous version of what munitions factory work was really like in order to create a more pleasant viewing experience. It also features lots of jazz and blues performances, which are trademarks of the era. But the overall show features a group of strong, empowered female characters, and offers an important history lesson about what the war was like for the working women at home.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what it was like for women during WWII. What kind of factories did women work in? Did all women work in factories? Once the war was over, why did they leave their jobs? How has media portrayed the experiences of these women over the years? Is their contribution viewed as a positive one?
Behaviors like smoking and hitting women were not thought to have negative consequences in the 1940s. Given what we know today, is it appropriate to show this behavior in the media, even in a historical context? How can showing these acts in the media potentially send mixed messages to kids?
Themes & Topics
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For kids who love strong women
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