Girlboss. Everyone’s been talking about it – Just Google ‘Girlboss reviews‘. From a quick scan of the results, you can infer that people have mixed views. IMDb gave the new Netflix series a 7.2/10, while Rotten Tomatoes only gave it a 32%. One article for The Guardian says the show is “a tone-deaf rallying cry to millennial narcissists”. Ouch. Another article for Vox pretty much just claims that the show gets boring, because it’s trying too hard, and okay, that’s fair. In spite of those takes on the show, an article for InStyle praises it, and even lists eight reasons everyone should binge watch it immediately. So, to watch or not to watch? That is the question.
Going into it, you should know what Girlboss is. The show is a comedy series loosely based on Sophia Amoruso’s book with the same name. The show follows her rise to success, and highlights how she started out selling modified vintage clothing on eBay, and ended up creating a multi-million dollar business. Sophia’s character, played by Britt Robertson, is a manic, stubborn, self-proclaimed assh*le, and she doesn’t let you forget it.
The show has its moments. The show does a good job of chronicling Sophia’s friendship with her bestie Annie, played by actress Ellie Reed. They’re both bad*ss women who know what they want, and they’re extremely loyal to one another. An entire episode is dedicated to showcasing loving your friends in a platonic way, and that is important. The end of episode nine even has a sort of ode to girlhood: When Sophia tries to convince a man to rent out space to her for her work, she says,
“I am a girl – and that shouldn’t be a bad thing. Girls are collaborative, empathetic hard workers. Girls are great!”.
But hold on. I’m not championing this show as a feminist work of art quite yet. The series has a way of depicting a sort of white feminism. Yes, Sophia finds her niche in the fashion industry, and she creates an empire, but did she really have to climb that many hurdles? In the first episode, she says that she quit college after a year because it wasn’t her thing, and she started working instead. That’s more than fine, but at each job, she’s aggressive, rude and does whatever she wants, because it doesn’t matter if she gets fired or not. Her father is wealthy, and while she may desperately want to be independent, she certainly doesn’t have to. At one point, she gets a hernia, and starts working at a new job just to get health insurance, because she doesn’t want to ask her dad for help, but she could if it came down to it.
Throughout the series, Sophia plays with being poor. She dives into a dumpster for day-old doughnuts, because it’s cute and quirky and she’s hungry and impatient, not because she has to. She becomes a caricature of the poor, but if things were really rough, she could move back into her dad’s expensive house and do whatever she wants. She tries on being poor like it’s a trend or a hobby and then gets rich buying cheap items from thrift stores and reselling them at prices that only the wealthy could afford. The irony in being a ‘manic pixie dream girl’ sort of poor and then creating a multi-million dollar empire rooted in and built on capitalism should not be lost on the viewer.
So, should you watch Girlboss? For some reasons, maybe yes, but for others, definitely no. If you choose to watch the show, the important thing is that you’re aware of what you’re consuming. If you’re going to watch it, pay attention.