Girlboss, the Netflix series loosely based on the Sophia Amoruso autobiographical novel of the same name, starts off slow and irritating but gradually transitions to a decent Netflix binge. The series, directed by Pitch Perfect’s Kay Cannon, centers on Sophia Marlo, a millennial misfit who finds a passion for fashion and starts her own online fashion business known as Nasty Gal. Through this process, she transforms into a businesswoman and her own boss over the two years that we follow her. As she figures out her unstable life as a boss, however, she learns to endure and survive maintaining a business.
The most distinct aspect of the season was the unique and rebellious set of characters played by a great set of actors. Tomorrowland actress Britt Robertson’s portrayal of Sophia is at first extremely irritating and almost oblivious to others’ emotions. However, through each episod, Robertson gradually increases her likability and gives viewers reasons to root for her in her many endeavors and the obstacles she faces when running her own business. Sophia’s BFF Annie (played by Ellie Reed) was a standout in this series; Reed gave such an incredible combination of relatability, humor, and trust to Annie that I could not help but feel envious that she was not my best friend. Annie provides such support and compassion to Sophia that without Annie, Sophia and her business could not progress.
A surprising addition was Sweet Home Alabama’s Melanie Lynskey, who plays Sophia’s taciturn fashion frenemy, Gail. Lynskey presents a gentle, socially awkward and significantly vulnerable woman with Gail that juxtaposes Sophia nicely. Other noticeable mentions were Community alum Jim Rash, how plays a seemingly dull, comedic, and indifferent fashion store owner and Shane, played by Johnny Simmons, who plays Sophia’s slick and collective boyfriend.
The overall plot of the series spans across two years of Sophia’s life with her initially surviving and then thriving in the city of San Francisco. At first, the plot was a little slow. I felt the first two episodes could have used greater traction. At the beginning, Sophia’s jerkish and anarchist personality did not seem appealing and the lack of direction made me continually wonder where the plot was going. The plot becomes intriguing when Sophia’s past is revealed and there is more insight about her personality and the personality of other characters. The plot truly falls into place around the third episode where certain interactions and distinct personalities come into play.
Fashion is a good tool, but not entirely represented in the series. The business aspect of fashion may be reflected, but the creative side less so. It would’ve have been pleasing to see the creativity of fashion highlighted in more ways especially during the beginnings of Nasty Gal. If there could have been more dialogue on Sophia’s process for her ideas of fashion rather than mainly discussing the inventory of her fashion, there could be a deeper sense of her intellectual sense of style. If there was an equivalency of business and creativity in Sophia’s fashion business, then I feel the true sense of her company could have been better projected. The fashion of the characters, specifically for Sophia, shows the slow progression of her successes at first with outfits that seemed forced together and then outfits that look better and more beautiful on Sophia. The clothing styles of many of the characters seemed to show the personalities of the character, but both Sophia and Ellie’s style most represented how clothing can be vital to a character’s personality and thoughts.
The dialogue of the series is snappy, quick, and quirky. It is rife with early 2000s pop-culture references such as The O.C. series, MySpace, and Annie’s predilection for Britney Spears. It shows the particular personalities of each of the characters while also creating believable and well-connected conversations between the characters.
The music features artists such as Otis Redding, Modest Mouse, Passion Pit, and much more, and emits the emotional climate of each scene and joins well with the characters’ personalities. Certain clear negatives are that this show might not be suited for every audience. Others might find that there were overly awkward moments where Sophia deliberately blocks out social situations that leaves her a little irritating to watch. The show may begin slow and uneven with a frustrating main character, but the inner stories about how Sophia and Annie became friends and how Sophia was living and reacting prior to the beginning of her business does help move the show along.
The series shines with its spectacular actors, central plot, witty dialogue, and well-planned songs. The uneven structure of the plot and the inability to show the full range of the creativity and business aspects of fashion leave Girlboss with the grade of a B+.
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“Girlboss” Takes Time To Trend: Photograph courtesy of Netflix