Disclaimer: Spoilers ahead.
If you’re a millennial with even the faintest feminist inclinations, you’ve either: a) read Sophia Amoruso’s Girlboss or b) watched the Netflix adaptation starring Britt Robertson as the head protagonist, but chances are you’ve probably already heard of it.
However, unlike almost every other Netflix show, surprisingly Girlboss was not wracked with positive reviews and demands for an encore. What should’ve been a straight-up hit, turned out to be an easy target for an unfortunately feminist-shy crowd. Most viewers condemned Sophia Marlowe, the fictionalized version of Amoruso, as an unlikeable and shifty character and to be honest, it’s easy to see why. Her shoplifting tendencies and arrogant middle-finger-to-the-world attitude would put anyone off. In a nutshell, she’s unapologetically lazy, selfish and– dare I say it?— entitled. And that is exactly why we should show Sophia Marlowe more love.
While the show heavily focuses on Nasty Gal’s early days, eventually finishing off with the actual launch of the website, there are more than a few less-than-subtle nods to girl power. When looking to rent an office space, she starts out negotiations strong with “I may look like a little girl to you but I am here to tell you that I am not”. But, sit up, guys, this isn’t yet another Lizzie McGuire-esque outburst. Suddenly, she backtracks with “No, you’re right, I am a girl and that shouldn’t be a bad thing”, complete with a brief, sound argument that girls are “empathetic, collaborative hard workers and that girls are great!”. Boom. This is a perfect example of how refreshing the show is when making its point. The show may be set in 2008 but the messages embedded in the screenplay behind it is mature beyond its years.
Just when you think you finally know Sophia and everything Girlboss stands for, she pulls a one-eighty and leaves you reeling from how realistic these changes are– no matter how “loose” this retelling of true events is. When you think you’ve pegged her down for a hardcore badass who would not hesitate whatsoever in kicking her cheating boyfriend to the curb, she surprises you by reacting hyper-passively. For a while she pretends she doesn’t see anything to avoid confrontation, only to break down during the big celebratory launch party of NastyGal. You’d think that a cheating boyfriend would be the least of an independent girl’s worries after such a big milestone but that’s exactly the beauty that is Girlboss.
Most people flock to the sensible Emma Watsons of the world and get lost while dreamily staring at her beautiful freckly skin and natural feathery-browed goodness. From being an ivy-league graduate to being a certified yoga instructor, there’s no denying that Emma is everyone’s dream of the ideal feminist. But the harsh truth of it is that often little credit and less approval is given to her grittier, more abrasive counterparts.
Sophia Marlowe doesn’t take it upon herself to go down the Nietzsche route (“The worst enemy you can meet will always be yourself”) that a lot of contemporary hippie groups peddle and that everyone feels the need to take on in order to be a better person. Sophia Marlowe is realistically angry with the world and she directs that red hot energy into bettering herself as an “in-your-face” to society. She doesn’t care about being liked; she hustles hard to be her own boss.
Girlboss is an invigorating fresh reminder that it’s not about scaling ourselves down to fit into a mold of society’s expectations of what it means to be a good woman or a strong feminist. It’s about being real to ourselves about what we want, when we want it and how we want it– even if we have to step over some toes and ruffle a few feathers to get to where we want to be.