By: Zeila Edrial
Amazon Prime Video’s Good Girls Revolt takes place in the 1960s, when social unrest was prevalent in America. People were fighting against racism and sexism, and the younger Americans were protesting against the draft and the Vietnam War. A counterculture of “flower children” turned to sex, drugs and music to escape reality.
The Good Girls Revolt series is based on Lynn Povich’s memoir of the same name. Povich was hired as a secretary at Newsweek before later becoming one of the women who sued the magazine for sex discrimination. However, the drama series is quick to remind viewers at the end of every episode, “Although this program was inspired by real events, News of the Week [the publication in the show] and persons working there are fictional.”
The main characters of the series are the women who work as researchers at News of the Week magazine. The discrimination against women at the magazine is glaringly obvious from the start, when it’s established that only men on the staff can be reporters. It is the women’s job to fact-check and refine the reporters’ stories to make the men look good. When Patti Robinson (Genevieve Angelson) tells her reporter Doug Rhodes (Hunter Parrish) about the rush she got from convincing a witness to speak to her, he replies, “You’re not a reporter, you’re a researcher.”
There was another scene in which an editor praises a reporter for a court article, saying, “Nice job.” To his surprise, a researcher named Nora Ephron (Grace Gummer) pipes up with, “Thank you.” She admits that she rewrote her reporter’s court story. But instead of being praised, she is told, “Girls don’t do rewrites,” because that’s the rule.
Many instances of sex discrimination are scattered throughout the show. Only the men at News of the Week are listed on the staff page. One of the female researchers graduated from University of Pennsylvania with honors, but the reporter that she’s partnered with went to city college for two years and didn’t graduate. And yet, he is still paid more- simply because of his gender.
During the ’60s, women were expected to be stay-at-home housewives who served their husbands. The Good Girls Revolt illustrates that culture by showing how submissive Cindy Reston (Erin Darke) is to her husband. When he feels that a dress she plans to wear to a party is too revealing and tells her to change into a more conservative dress that he picked out, she gives in. He also tells her that she only had a year at News of the Week before she had to start a family with him.
And yet, despite everything that the women go through, they don’t stand up for themselves. Because society tells them that this is how America should be. So these “good girls” quietly put up with it… until they meet Eleanor Holmes Norton (Joy Bryant).
Eleanor tells the girls to revolt. She is a American Civil Liberties Union lawyer, and she informs the women that if they’re not allowed to have the same jobs as men, it’s illegal. She is their introduction to feminism, and she pushes them to stand up for themselves. Eleanor encourages the women to file an official complaint against News of the Week for being unfair to them.
Of course, the female researchers are hesitant, especially after finding out that Eleanor intends for them to sue the magazine. Some of them fear losing their jobs. Others fear ruining their relationships or friendships with their male coworkers. But it is up to the “good girls” to find the strength to stand up and start a revolution against patriarchy.
Good Girls Revolt tells the story of sex discrimination in the newsroom. As a female journalist, it hit me a little close to home to see how much these women were mistreated at work. Although the series takes place during the end of the ’60s, there is no denial that discrimination against women is still happening today. It is important to look to the characters of the Good Girls Revolt– as well as the real-life women of Newsweek– as examples to follow. The fight for women’s rights is still not over.
Do you recommend any shows that address social issues? Let us know in the comments below!