The Pits of Forgetfulness from Netflix is where this series will end up, I’ll say…
Friday the 21st Netflix launched ‘Girlboss’, a loose retelling (real loose, the pilot episode says) of the story of Sophia Amoruso, the founder of Nasty Gal. The 13-episode series will follow Sophia on her rise to internet domination with her clothing knowledge and marketing savvy. The trailer of Girlboss does sell the series well and makes a good job of making you want to watch it.
It is lovely to see Netflix having SO many women-centered/-lead/-heavy original series (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Orange is the New Black, Sense 8, Jessica Jones, 13 Reasons Why, Grace and Frankie, Lady Dynamite, the list goes on), and on the surface, Girlboss’ story on a self-made woman building a millionaire empire seemed amazing. My amazement started to wear off, first with watching the series an then with reading more about the real-life Sophia Amoruso and the countless problems surrounding Nasty Gal.
The series failed to impress me, overall. There were some really good moments and characters, but I just kept on watching so I could get through it, as I don’t like to leave series midway. I didn’t love Britt Robertson’s performance, but the script may have been at fault here. She felt forced a lot of the time, almost a caricature of a “cool millennial”, . Some people, like Ellie Reed as Annie, RuPaul as Lionel, Jim Rash as Mobias, and Melanie Lynskey as Gail, completely outshone Robertson whenever they were sharing the screen.
The show picks up from episode 10 until the end of the season and improves tremendously. Episode 10 was a high point in story, visuals, sets, and direction. However, I felt that that was most because of other characters around Sophia, as the show has failed to make me truly care about her. We are all idiots and unlikable sometimes, but Sophia is that most of the time. All her character development presented to justify that “unlikability” seemed forced or artificial to me. I don’t know, it just did not work for me.
I guess just a lot of it bothered me: it lacked subtlety, it lacked refinement, it took too many poetic licenses to make Sophia’s life cool (like her financial situation allowing her to be on the verge of eviction and yet still have money to buy cinema tickets she won’t use, for example), and it felt tone-deaf a LOT of the times (episode 3 and the scene with the “raging feminist” in particular angered me, I could write an entire post about that).
Overall, this series feels like a missed opportunity. The TV is no stranger to “unlikable” characters (see Girls for example), but they were interesting enough in their trials and errors, they at least felt real or it was possible to somehow unfortunately identify with some of what made them unlikable. This is not the case with Girlboss, it just fell flat to me. Gorgeous cinematography and clothing, but looking beyond its appearance, I did not see much. Netflix has had so many wonderful series lately, and this one just does not belong in the same tier as Sense 8 for example.