Girlboss is a new Netflix original comedy series starring Britt Robertson as Sophia, an immature, over-emotional 23 year old slacker who finds her passion and develops an online fashion business.
Created by Kay Cannon and loosely based on the book #Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso, you have to be willing to let the series grow on you. It’s funny. It’s filthy. It’s outrageous. It’s heartwarming.
When we first meet Sophia she is hard to take. One wonders what her best friend Annie (Ellie Reed) and her boyfriend Shane (Johnny Simmons) even see in her. Sophia is all over the place, she does crazy stuff, she goes off on people, she’s flat broke and eating out of dumpsters.
But there’s something about her, even though she’s annoying as hell, that pulls you in. As the 13 episodes in season 1 roll by, we see into her past. We learn about her hurts, her broken places. We understand her independence, her refusal to ask for help. Britt Robertson makes her real – her temper tantrums, her brilliance, her fashion savvy, her loves, her hates, her tears, her joys, and her pain.
Season 1 begins with Sophia flat broke and facing eviction. The season ends with the triumphant launch of her vintage clothing business website. The journey from one place to the other is fraught with emotional highs and lows.
Sophia is surrounded by oddball characters. Her BFF – I love you. In case I die. – Annie is as snarky and wild as Sophia.
Sophia’s boyfriend is a drummer and a band manager. He travels. Even so, he’s in every episode.
Annie’s boyfriend Dax (Alphonso McAuley) is a grown up. He’s in business school and holds down a steady job as a bartender. His idea of a great way to spend a weekend in Hollywood is to tour the Eames House.
Sophia’s landlord is played by RuPaul. Dean Norris plays her dad. Jim Rash is Mobias, the owner of a vintage clothing store Sophia hits up regularly.
Two characters deserve special mention. The season opens and closes with Sophia on a park bench talking with Rosie (Louise Fletcher). Rosie says “fuck” almost as often as Sophia, and slaps her when she needs it. I loved that this wonderful elder actor bookended the season.
Melanie Lynskey played Gail, a competing seller of vintage clothing. She was only in 3 episodes, but 2 of those were my favorite episodes in the season. In the episode “Long-Ass Pants,” Gail comes to Sophia’s apartment. The writers basically gave this episode to Melanie Lynskey and, boy, did she take it and run. Gail is hilarious and just a little crazy.
The other episode I loved was “Vintage Fashion Forum.” The members of an online vintage fashion forum sat in a circle, saying lines as if they were typing to each other in a forum. Gail was the moderator. They were trash talking Sophia’s eBay business, called Nasty Gal. Annie signed in under a phony name. Sophia signed in under a phony name. Finally Sophia signed in under her Nasty Gal name and told them all to go to hell. They got even by reporting her to eBay for having a link to her website in her eBay store. eBay banned her forever. She had to start selling clothing from her own website.
Being an early adopter of all things internet, I thought the way the forum was staged and directed was brilliant. I also liked the way they handled chat messages between Sophia and Annie. I loved “Vintage Fashion Forum.”
Because she was banned by eBay, Sophia had to make a functioning e-commerce website. She tried to do it herself with a “Web Design for Dummies” book. Didn’t go well. That brought the web designer Kaavi (Kosha Patel) into the last couple of episodes. She’s another character I loved. (In my previous life, I did some web work myself.)
Sophia goes to see her mother, a woman who deserted her, in the episode “Garbage Person.” Kathleen, her mother, is played by Alice Ripley. Great casting, as they look somewhat alike. Oh my god, Kathleen is exactly like Sophia. Selfish, emotional, burning her bridges in fits of anger, and not serious adult material. Sophia watches her in amazed (dazed?) recognition. Sophia can do better. Mom makes boring old helicopter dad, who stuck by Sophia, look a whole lot better.
It’s funny. It’s filthy. It’s outrageous. It’s heartwarming.Five of the 13 episodes were directed by women (Jamie Babbit and Amanda Brotchie). The majority of the writing was done by Jen Braeden, Kay Cannon, Karen Graci and Brian Shortall.
Music played an important role in Girlboss. The soundtrack was heavy on rock. Each song was carefully chosen for the occasion. The only song I recognized was an oldie from Carly Simon. I’m sure younger viewers will know them all.
Britt Robertson gave an interesting interview to The Hollywood Reporter. She talked about why her character is so hard to watch. She also talked about working with Charlize Theron, one of the producers of the show.
If you check out Girlboss and are tempted to chuck it after the first episode, hang in there. You’ll get to the payoff if you stick with Sophia.