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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Girlboss is a series about real-life founder of the Nasty Gal fashion line and online business icon Sophia Amoruso. Sophia is depicted as a bit of a jerk: She lies, steals, disregards the feelings of others, and treats them indifferently; even though she's aware of her shortcomings and calls herself an "a--hole," she doesn't apologize for her actions. The show has mature content and sexual references: A couple has sex with moaning and thrusting (no private parts are visible) and then discuss one-night stands and orgasms while shown in their underwear. Cursing and strong language includes "hell," "s--t," "f--k," "a--hole," "bulls--t," "motherf--ker," and a lot of off-color words. Adults frequently drink cocktails; they make reckless choices while drinking and find being drunk funny. Violence is rare and played for laughs; in one scene, an older woman slaps Sophia in the face for saying something rude. All in all, Sophia is an imperfect role model, but she's also a successful entrepreneur who stays true to herself. It's an interesting watch.
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What's the story?
Before she was the author of the best-selling book about "how to succeed in business without selling your soul" (also called GIRLBOSS) and the CEO of millennial fashion empire Nasty Gal, Sophia Amoruso (Britt Robertson) was a likable loser. Still searching for a path to follow in her 20s, she's burned though a string of jobs and is about to be evicted from her ratty San Francisco apartment, and her disappointed dad (Dean Norris) is urging her to move back home while she figures out what's next. But after she scores a great deal on a vintage jacket and notices that most retro clothing sellers don't seem to know how to price and market their wares, she decides to go into business for herself. Sophia's a powerhouse all right -- and now that she's found the right place to focus her prodigious energy, her star's about to rise.
Is it any good?
Though in real life Sophia crashed and burned business-wise, her rise from shoplifting street rat to CEO is a whole lot of fun to watch, particularly since successful-women bios are rare. Go ahead, name five shows about women who are powerful forces in business -- and not just the wives and/or girlfriends of moguls who cause trouble behind the scenes. But here, Sophia is firmly in the driver's seat, even if she's in a crappy car that runs out of gas on a steep San Francisco hill in the first few minutes of the show's pilot and then must push that car, alone, uphill to a nearby gas station. Later, after she's been fired from a lousy shoe store job, she wanders into a used-clothing store, talks the bored clerk into selling her a rare antique calfskin jacket for peanuts, and stalks out obviously feeling like a million bucks -- and just about to make them, because she's able to sell that jacket, properly modeled and identified, on eBay for an exponentially higher price, which marks the beginning of her big-business-to-be.
Watching a former loser make good can be pretty thrilling, and there are plenty of success stories to be told from the beginning of the online gold rush -- see The Social Network for one highly relevant example. But what really makes Girlboss special is the distinctly feminine focus behind and in front of the camera. Writer Kay Cannon -- best known for her work on 30 Rock and Pitch Perfect -- has crafted a rare show that makes self-actualization not boring and puts crackling quips in characters' mouths without sounding pretentious or improbable. Sophia scans as a real, fallible young woman who happens into a good thing due to a combination of smarts and being in the right place at the right time. She's a hero young viewers need and will like -- even if the real-life Sophia ultimately left a questionable legacy.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Sophia shows perseverance and courage in Girlboss by starting her own business. Why are these important character strengths? What makes her launch the business? What makes her keep at it until it's a success? Does her success (and, in real life, eventual failure in the business) offer any lessons for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Is the audience supposed to like Sophia, even though she's depicted as vulgar, crass, irresponsible, and even immoral? How can you tell? How common is it on TV shows to present likable characters with great flaws? Is it unusual that such a character is female?
Once you know that this series is based on the life of a real person, does that make you want to find out about her? Does that ruin the "surprise" of the show? Does it affect your enjoyment? Can you think of another show or movie about a real person that departs from the real facts of that person's life?
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