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Good Girls Revolt
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 Good Girls Revolt is a series based on the landmark 1970 gender discrimination suit filed by female employees of Newsweek magazine. Set in 1969, the show contains scenes about and references to then timely issues: The birth control pill, "consciousness-raising" sessions at which women examine their own private parts, famous murders (the Manson family). Characters have sex in an office back room with thrusting and panting, breasts are visible. A minor character has penis sculptures littering her living room. A woman fears she's pregnant and examines her diaphragm for holes. Multiple characters smoke cigarettes; adults drink liquor and cocktails at work, bars, and restaurants. One character gives another a joint; he smokes it hoping it will help him appreciate music more.
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What's the story?
In 1969 at the fictional magazine News of the Week, female employees could hope to be receptionists or researchers, backing up the male writers who got all the credit (and money) for their work. But when Nora Ephron (Mamie Gummer) quits in disgust and invites several of her fellow ex-coworkers to a consciousness-raising meeting, fiery researcher Patti (Genevieve Angelson) and caption writer Cindy (Erin Darke) realize it's high time that GOOD GIRLS REVOLT. Patti is sick of working hard to break stories, only to see them handed off to lazy male coworkers such as Sam Rosenberg (Daniel Eric Gold) by dismissive higher-ups Finn (Chris Diamantopoulos) and William "Willie" McFadden (Jim Belushi); for her part, Cindy wants to write novels, but her husband wants her to quit and become a housewife. What will happen when these women stand up to the status quo? History is on their side, but you'll have to watch to see how it all turns out.
Is it any good?
Suffused with vintage details to thrill Mad Men fans, this well-written drama scores by casting compelling actors to flesh out a fascinating real-life struggle. Based on the 2013 novel of the same name by Lynn Povich, this fictionalized retelling of the Newsweek scandal gets the clothes, hairstyles, and furniture right, as well as the types of things people were talking about in 1969: the Manson Family, the Pill, the nerve of women who come to work and expect equal treatment. Could it be, young viewers might wonder, that it used to be OK for a boss to ask "a girl" to pick up a present for his daughter on her lunch hour or fetch him coffee? Was it typical that a husband would expect his wife to quit work? Were women's skirts really that short?
Yes, yes, and yes; and watching compelling characters such as Angelson's Patti struggle against expectations and try to force change makes for grabby drama. Patti is a fine reporter and a fierce iconoclast; watching her chafe against those who would keep her down is all the more pleasurable to the viewer who knows her cause is destined to win out. In the wake of Mad Men's success, many dramas have tried to imitate its artistry; Good Girls Revolt is one of the few that's come close.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the historical events that inspired Good Girls Revolt. Do you think things have changed since the '70s for women?
Both male and female characters mistreat women in this show. What examples of sexism can you name? How does the show want us to feel about its female characters and how they are treated?