If you’ve got a Netflix account (or a really great friend who let’s you use theirs), and you’re a fan of Netflix original series’, then you’ve probably heard of Girlboss, the comedy loosely based on Sophia Amoruso’s autobiography of the same name. Amoruso’s book details how she began her company, NastyGal, in 2006. An online retailer, which by 2012 had been dubbed the “Fastest Growing Retailer” by INC Magazine, NastyGal is officially a global business, selling in over 60 countries, making Amoruso’s story was a classic White rags to riches story. With the backing of Charlize Theron as producer, and a fairly talented cast, Girlboss should have been a hit, right? Wrong.
Set in San Francisco, Girlboss‘ protagonist, a fictionalized version of Amoruso named Sophia Marlowe (Britt Robinson) is instantly unlikable and manages to obliterate any sunshine from the atmosphere. An aimless college drop-out, Sophia lives to scam other people, invade their personal space, give attitude, and behave like an entitled, privileged brat who deems herself smarter than those around her. Though it’s clear that Sophia is supposed to be aloof and detached, she comes across as aggressively bitchy and arrogant, a response to her character which doesn’t even begin to fade until the first (and last) season is nearly over.
Sophia only has one friend, Annie (Ellie Reed), who is funny, kind, generous, and sensitive (read: someone whom Sophia is wholly undeserving of). Sophia only treats Annie marginally better than she treats anyone else, because even though she claims to love her, it’s quite clear that the little narcissist has no real grasp of that word at all. Annie is ride-or-die and Sophia is “What’s in it for me?” Enough said. Besides being routinely selfish towards Annie, Sophia is also inexplicably cold to her father (Dean Norris), who continues to try to be there for her, despite her childish behaviour.
Enter, Shane (Johnny Simmons), Sophia’s love interest (because even a show about a woman creating her own business needs a little romance or else, what’s the point? Am I right?!) Shane, like half of the twenty-somethings near LA, is in the music business. He is kind, patient, and actually finds Sophia’s deep-seated insecurities masquerading as wit to be attractive. Go figure.
After years of light scamming, Sophia realizes that she could turn a real profit by selling vintage clothing online, and she decides to sell vintage items online first via her eBay account and then later at her own online retailer. Using thankless Annie as free labour, and working harder than she ever has, Sophia grows her empire, but fails to ever really grow as a person. The self-serving and cold person she started as grows only smarter and more successful.
Even the title of this show is annoying as fuck, if we’re gonna keep it all the way real. You’re a woman who created a successful business. Yay! You’re a boss. But you’re also a grown ass woman, not a girl, even if Sophia’s character is often childish as all hell. The show is also deeply frustrating in it’s insistence that Sophia, who always managed to find food to eat and kept a roof over her head, was somehow suffering great misfortune by having to navigate the world as a thin White woman, simply because she was broke (“broke” and not homeless in San Francisco. Read: Not fucking poor). The fact that deeply unlikable Sophia kept getting jobs (even if she was usually quickly fired) is classic White privilege.
Sadly, I don’t think this portrayal of Amoruso, as selfish, cold, and and often shady, is even that far off the mark, since four employees filed a lawsuit against her for firing them due to pregnancy back in 2015. I guess art really is imitating life here. I can’t fully express how grateful I am that Netflix will not be renewing Girlboss, and I wish profoundly that this dumpster fire of a show had never been made.
I give this one 2.5 stars.