In Defence of Girlboss

There are two types of people I don’t trust in this world, weather forecasters and critics. The latter proved true as I finished Netflix’s newest original Girlboss after having read slating reviews. In a – successful – effort to avoid working on my thesis, I watched all 13 episode of Girlboss in 24 hours and here is why you should give it the same chance I did. #nospoilers

Girlboss embellishes the true story of Nasty Gal founder Sophia Amoruso on her road to success. Set in 2006, we see Sophia’s entrepreneurial personality mixed with that of a lost 20 something-year-old as she faces an uncertain life. A personal renaissance finds her embracing her passion for vintage fashion and begin to pursue a career on eBay.

“You know how some people flip houses? I flip clothes.”

The Guardians review – which I regretfully read before watching – decided to tear down the real life Sophia. Stating that if she resembles the fictional depiction of herself she “deserves none of her success and should immediately hand over every cent to charity for crimes against humanity”. Steve Jobs is referenced at one point. Jobs considered to be a great innovator and businessman is similarly brash and flawed in his fictional depictions. Yet we do not attack the man behind the movie, nor should we attack the woman behind the girl boss. The harshness of this critics statement has led me to consider the character of Sophia as depicted in the show.

My issue lies in how critics describe Sophia as this overindulged brat. Having already brought gender into the forefront of this conversation, I would like to add an alternative perspective.

When looking at the vast array of characters on television, present and past, we can see many Sophias. The first that sprung to mind was Dr Gregory House from House M.D. Hugh Laurie’s Golden Globe-winning performance as the selfish, egotistical doctor who belittled everyone around him isn’t described as a “Walking Selfie”. The male equivalents of Sophia are not as highly scrutinised as she is. We have the brilliant minds that fail to understand social norms, your Sheldon or Sherlock. Their “quirks” are endearing and comedic. All three of these, what I will call for argument sakes, boy bosses carry the same character tropes as this girl boss:

  • Emotionally abusive to their best friend
  • Brash and unapologetic
  • Consider themselves “outside” of society
  • Emotionally inept

Sophia’s character is not without her flaws, I agree with the review at times. When watching the first few episodes, I found myself second guessing most if not every decision made by Sophia. From dumpster diving for food instead of meeting her dad for dinner to her lack of work ethic. Sophia is not a likeable character at first. Yet when we explore her backstory and invest in her character arc, we begin to understand her choices. Her burning desire to be independent, to be successful, to enjoy her work. In essence, Sophia embodies what every lost 20 something-year-old goes through. As with every character worth watching, we have to be introduced to their surface before we start to see what’s underneath.

All that said, I won’t forgive the show for making me relive THAT scene from The OC.

Articles Referenced:

https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2017/apr/21/girlboss-review-netflix-sophia-amoruso-britt-robertson

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