I like it when I don’t immediately like a female protagonist.
If she’s crass, shrill, complicated, and messy I want to be wooed by her complexities, to be utterly drawn into the histrionic verisimilitude, or even piece together a tapestry of vile vanities. Think Mindy Lahiri portrayed by Kaling of the same first name on The Mindy Project, the ever frustrating Hannah on Girls, or well, any of the girls on Girls. Think the seemingly vapid and one dimensional Mavis of Young Adult played by Charlize Theron — a woman so distracted and deluded by the eye of her personal hurricane that she is unable to asses the damage that surrounds her.
I admit it was the mention of Theron’s name as producer of the recently unleashed Girlboss now streaming on Netlfix that attracted me. Based on the – sorry LOOSELY based on – true events and then even more flimsily extrapolated from (or rather more politely inspired by) the book #Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso the founder of a fashion brand Nasty Gal. The story follows Amoruso (Britt Roberston) flailing around the streets of San Francisco until she discovers selling and underpriced leather jacket from a thrift store on eBay at a mark up is a way to make it rain money.
That in itself is a fucking great story. An entrepreneur seeing an opportunity and getting what’s hers. The opening frames of the very first episode show us Sophia confronted with her car running out of fuel on a steep heel, getting out and pushing that clunker up the hill. A git er done kind of girl.
Girl Boss has taken the challenge of fleshing out this character and as the show re-iterates time and time again that the basis of these characters is not fact, but rather a tale embellished with creative flourishes. I just find myself feeling disappointed that with all this creative license they didn’t make a more interesting character or plot points.
Personally, I find the Sophia really, really annoying. Even a fucking old lady on park bench (Louise Fletcher) extols her distain for this individual, imbuing the young woman as a harbinger of the future, “Thank God I’ll be dead by then.” It’s not just Sophia’s self-centered, seemingly dopey sense of the world, but even the interactions she has with her friend Annie (Ellie Reed) who greets her at the bar with “Hey slut!”, Sophia replies “Are you trying to reclaim that term?” No, responds Annie, “I just like yelling it out in a bar.”
These are not people I want to spend my time with.
For the extraordinary story of a self-made individual creating a relatively new avenue for the fashion industry in the time of the emerging internet, Girlboss is kind of boring. No real tension or conflict or calamities that result in true, genuine reflection about the time, place, or character. I am unable to empathize with Sophia when she tearfully asks her friend why she’s such an asshole after getting fired because she was late and then ate her boss’s sandwich (hey, you eat my sandwich without permission you ARE an asshole).
Girlboss leaves me ultimately let down by the end product. Like Sophia looking at that vintage leather jacket and thinking, “Hey this could be worth something!”, I understand why Theron, Kay Cannon (Pitch Perfect 1&2, 30 Rock), Lavern McKinnon of Denver & Delilah, and Christan Ditter (How to Be Single) all sat down together and decide this could be a treasure trove, however, the show is not something I’m buying.