Good Girls Revolt / Amazon Studios
Good Girls Revolt, the latest Amazon Studios original series, was quietly cancelled just about a month after its first season was released—and fans of the show are livid. Rightfully so.
The show, created by Dana Calvo, is based on the true story of the group of female staffers at Newsweek who sued the magazine for gender discrimination in the 1970s. The television show stars Genevieve Angelson, Anna Camp, and Erin Darke as Patti, Jane, and Cindy (oh, and Grace Gummer as a young Nora Ephron), researchers at News of the Week, a news magazine which by tradition does not allow its female staff to write, effectively subjugating them to doing the real digging for the male writers and earning none of the bylines.
So why is Good Girls Revolt being cancelled? With a 4.5 star rating on Amazon, strong critical reviews, and an apparent loyal fan base (Amazon does not release viewer statistics), it's uncertain. Having only been released a little over a month ago, it seems hard to gauge its popular success, although Calvo has claimed it has twice the viewership of Transparent, another fantastic Amazon original.
The only apparent explanation, Calvo has said, is Amazon Studios exec Roy Price's evident disinterest in the series. Calvo told Forbes, "he's never been hugely supportive of the show from the start." While not all shows can be everyone's cup of tea—and perhaps we can imagine why a show about underpaid female staffers revolting against male leadership in media may not resonate with a male studio executive—it just seems like bad business to base a decision to cancel a show on personal preference. But that loyal fan base is proving to be a vocal one, too. As Sony (the show's production company) prepares to sell the show to another distributor, fans, spurred by the cast members themselves, are tweeting and blogging in support of the series with the hashtag #SaveGoodGirlsRevolt.
Good Girls Revolt is a fun, sexy, exciting, and politically relevant period piece about women journalists and the world they're writing about. It almost has the feeling of being a more uplifting spinoff of Mad Men, but with less self-absorbed and self-destructive characters. Which isn't to say they're perfect feminist icons, because they're not: Patti, Jane, and Cindy, all of different relationship statuses, are trying to figure out what the sexual revolution means for them, often slipping up along the way and risking their careers and relationships. As in real life, it's not always clear which men are allies to the cause and which are enemies; usually, it's a bit of both. And the spirited performances of the main cast make their characters delightful and lovable, even when they verge on their most insufferable traits (Jane's privilege, Cindy's naïveté, Patti's blind idealism).
Though racial diversity is not the show's strength—the main cast and most of the supporting cast are white—it is at least self-conscious of this. Denise, one of few black researchers at News of the Week, faces both worse treatment at work (including inappropriate sexual conduct from a male colleague who doesn't think twice) and multiplied anxiety about her job security. Hopefully in a second season, Denise and the other black researchers will become more prominent, alongside the all-white main trio.
And the journalism. After the idealistic 60s came the turbulent 70s, marked by post-Vietnam cultural fallout and episodes of political tension and violence. So much of the anger, aggression, frustration, and conflict surrounding social issues of the 70s are exactly the sort of thing we're seeing mirrored in today's political reality. The writers and researchers of News of the Week struggle to find a balance between objectivity, sensationalism, tradition, and necessary risk. The conversation about how to cover the Black Panthers and the possibility of authorities inflating crime statistics feels particularly relevant in 2016, when current movements for racial justice are being demonized all while fake news spreads like a virus through social media.
In the year we've had, it's more important than ever to tell stories that center on the voices in the margins and the personal issues that are inherently political. A second season for Good Girls Revolt would mean not only finishing the story arc that's just beginning, but a chance to delve more deeply into the main characters and those who deserve more screen time. It'll be a chance to continue to explore, through the lens of history, the issues of gender and racial inequality that we're still fighting today. If another network or platform picks it up, it'll be Amazon's loss. And our gain.
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