Good Girls Revolt isn’t the greatest show ever made, but it was entertaining enough for me to binge the whole season on Amazon this weekend. Patti is a fun, charming character, Anna Camp is on-point as the exquisite Jane, and Cindy is super annoying–I guess there always has to be one of those girls in every ensemble cast because it gives her the most room for growth (looking at you, Charlotte York MacDougal Goldenblatt).
GGR is based on a book about the true story of the women at Newsweek, so there’s not much new to cover. There were a few smaller moments, though, that seemed both fresh and relatable:
1. Patti’s fear that she won’t be any good.
Remember that scene in 30 Rock when high school age Liz Lemon completely botches a field goal for the football team, raises her arms victoriously, and yells “Feminism!”? She’s a female on the football team but sucks so hard that even her parents won’t watch her play. That’s the undercurrent of fear running through the women’s movement, albeit comedically illustrated.
When Patti completely misses the social services angle on her graffiti artist story, Doug steps in, saying “You can’t just write about what you want.” Later, in episode 10, he tells her, “You screwed that up and you know it.” She shoots back, “Was your first article perfect?”
It comes up again for Jane when another reporter, although female, is hired from outside the magazine to write the women’s movement story Jane pitched to Gregory (after stealing it from Patti). I think Cindy is the one who asks how they are supposed to get writing experience when they are working at a magazine that won’t let them write.
2. Cindy’s Love Story-inspired death fantasies.
Cindy and Jane share some girl talk over drinks, and since everybody appears to be reading Erich Segal’s Love Story in the early months of 1970, it becomes a segue into talking about the deaths they have imagined.
Cindy makes clear that she doesn’t want to see Lenny or Ned die, but can’t help thinking about the freedom it would give her. It has very little to do with the persons of Lenny and Ned; it is about removing them as factors in her life. Just taking them out of the equation entirely would make her life her own. Jane has similar thoughts about her parents.
3. Wick’s stake in News of the Week.
Wick comes out of nowhere in episode 10 to warn Finn about trouble brewing at the magazine. It was a red herring in the plot structure of the show since he wasn’t trying to tell Finn about the lawsuit. Instead, he explained something that had been alluded to with the Stingray rental and story on Ralph Nader: Gregory was selling favorable coverage to the Big Three.
Wick should be happy to see Finn and News of the Week implode, but he’s looking at the bigger picture: “You know, Finn, I got 30 years at News of the Week. Now, if this magazine goes down as a useless rag that sold its soul out for ad buys, people look at me differently, as if it was going on the whole time.”
It’s the same slightly self-serving rationale that gets me to donate money to my alma mater every year: it “adds value” to the pedigree. By making sure those institutions take care of their reputations, Wick and I ensure our own.
A note about Finn Woodhouse, Editor at Large
Evan Phinnaeus Woodhouse is portrayed by Chris Diamantopoulos, who, for me, can only ever be the Tres Commas Tequila guy from Silicon Valley. But forgetting his prior roles (also finally saw him in the last season of The Office) there is something about his character that is driving me absolutely insane.
Why on earth is Finn’s title “Editor at Large“??? It makes no sense. He’s clearly Editor in Chief. His responsibilities at the magazine are way too extensive for an at-large editor. He “dusts off” his press pass to write the ‘Nam story, but his day-to-day duties are concerned with running the magazine, which is not what an editor at large does.
It sounds so bizarre when he goes on a rant about how the staff should listen to him because he is EDITOR AT LARGE FOR NEWS OF THE WEEK. Just imagine a real editor at large gliding into the newsroom and telling people how to run things. That’s not how it works. Editors at large contribute to the content of a publication; they do not decide the editorial direction or concern themselves with advertisers.
I’m wondering if the nomenclature has shifted since the 70s or if the showrunners got something wrong because it is just too weird. As an example using fairly current magazine celebrities: André Leon Talley was an editor at large for Vogue and Anna Wintour was Editor in Chief. So just imagine that dynamic to understand how weird it is for Finn to scream his title at people when that title is so obviously wrong. This is really freaking me out.
*An earlier version of this post rendered Tres as Trés, in both the headline in the body of the text. While I think it’s funny that I accidentally substituted the French “very” for the Spanish “three,” it was entirely unintentional. This blog’s editor at large regrets the error.