Girlboss is available on Netflix starting Friday, April 21.
As the opening credits will tell you, Girlboss is loosely based on real events. (“Real loose.”) It’s inspired by the best-selling book #Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso, founder of the fashion brand Nasty Gal. Thirteen episodes about a girl running an eBay store might not sound entertaining, but it truly is. Despite some flaws, this comedy makes for a brisk binge.
The best and simultaneously worst part of the show is the main character, Sophia. Britt Robertson portrays her excellently, flaws and all. The problem is Sophia has a lot of them (flaws, that is). Although Robertson is charming, Girlboss never penalizes Sophia for her extremely self-absorbed, narcissistic actions. The best TV characters have problems, but still develop over the series. Perhaps Sophia should have been framed as more of an ‘anti-hero’, like Don Draper of Mad Men.
Personally, I didn’t care for any of the other cast. Johnny Simmons and Ellie Reed are both do a fine job as Sophia’s boyfriend and best pal, Shane and Annie, but nothing exceeded expectations. The fifth episode provides some much-needed backstory to Annie, which did make me connect to her a bit more. Shane’s storyline rightfully took a backseat to Sophia’s, but it comes at the expense of having an underserved, undeveloped character.
I especially liked the early-2000s setting, although sometimes the period references never felt shoehorned in, like when Sophia watches The O.C. with her friends. Did we really need a whole episode centered around the conflict of Annie not being in Sophia’s MySpace Top 8?
Another gripe that can come only in the age of streaming: 13 episodes feels a bit long for what is essentially a “pilot season”. When the final credits rolled, I found myself a bit annoyed at how long it took to get to the climax. If this show were on a regular network, filler plots and one-off characters that go nowhere would be part of the deal. With Netflix however, binge-size seasons are much more appetizing to me. Stranger Things was great because it was just eight brisk episodes. Each hour was straight and to the point. Luckily, every episode of Girlboss stays under 30 minutes, so the stories are easily digestible.
If you’ve watched the pilot but are on the fence about continuing, I encourage you to make it through episode four, where things start to pick up, story-wise at least. The first three episodes all focus on Sophia starting to “flip” clothes, and set up a plethora of challenges for her, which she tackles one by one of the course of the season.
For a comedy, the cinematography was very impressive. The show also makes use of its internet-centric story and visualizes cyberspace in fun and unique ways. The tenth episode’s online forum scene are the debut season’s highlight.
Ultimately, your enjoyment of Girlboss will come down to your ability to tolerate its protagonist’s demeanor. I often found myself groaning at how selfish and naïve Sophia acts, yet still rooted for her success. Can Britt Robertson make someone you might not want to hang out with in real-life seem appealing? The answer is a resounding yes.
I give Girlboss’ first season a B.