Premiering smack in the middle of this year’s wild presidential election, Good Girls Revolt really couldn’t have come at a better time. Available on Amazon Prime starting on Friday, the new series fictionalizes the true story of a group of female staffers at Newsweek who filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the magazine in 1970. Like its obvious predecessor Mad Men, Good Girls Revolt is a nostalgic trip back to the martini-drinking, indoor-smoking days of yore. Yet unlike Mad Men, the series takes a deep dive into the rampant workplace sexism of the era from a female point of view.
The story of the landmark case against Newsweek is told through the lives of three researchers, played by Anna Camp, Genevieve Angelson, and Erin Darke, who rally together after tiring of doing all the heavy-lifting reporting work only for the magazine’s senior male writers to get the bylines. Between the impeccable period costumes, the soundtrack, and the enduring relevance of the show’s gender dynamics, Good Girls Revolt is sure to become one of fall’s standout TV series.
Last week, we caught up with the three lead actresses at the Crosby Street Hotel in New York and talked about this year’s election, the Fox News scandal, and Michelle Obama’s inspiring speech denouncing Donald Trump.
This year has been an equally amazing and terrible time to be a woman. Between Donald Trump, Roger Ailes’s sexual harassment suit, and Kelly Oxford’s Twitter campaign, it almost seems like Amazon has just pulled off the most impressive sneak campaign in the history of TV shows.
Anna Camp: We didn’t know how relevant this show was going to be. We knew it was going to be around the first woman presidential candidate. But we had no clue this time was going to be so sexually charged.
Genevieve Angelson: On the show we’ve all had an incredible sense of gratitude. I think there’s a feeling in the air that we’re making something that matters.
Erin Darke: I think it’s an intentional thing that this is coming out just before the election. But I think that when that decision was made, it was made because we were going to have a woman running for president and we imagined sex was going to be some part of the conversation. But I don’t think we knew that that sexist windbag was going to make it the part of the election.
All three of you are part of a younger generation that didn’t experience this type of rampant gender discrimination. But I’m curious to know if any of you have ever experienced workplace sexism in your careers?
G.A.: My whole life! Also, growing up in New York City, it happens when I go down the subway every day. I feel like catcalling and inappropriate touching was part of my upbringing.
A.C.: I really identified with my character, Jane, as an actress in Hollywood. Before I got married, I would be doing a scene with a guy and there’s always that thing in the air of, “Oh god, I think he might be asking me out, but we have a scene tomorrow. What am I going to do?” Jane and [writer] Sam have the similar dynamic, where they’re great equals, great partners, but always at the end he asks her to hang out and go on a date. Both she and I have found a way to balance that delicate dance of “I don’t want to offend you because I have to work with you tomorrow” kind of thing, “but I don’t want to go out with you.” I’ve had to deal with that for a very long time.
E.D.: I think all the political stuff lately has started a lot of conversations with me and my male friends. They are asking, “Well, have you ever been groped?” And I’m like, “Yeah! I think every woman I know has; I probably couldn’t even count the times!” It started a conversation in a really lovely way because I think a lot of self-aware, great men now don’t even realize how much this actually happens. Also, I worked in casting for three years before being an actress and I learned a great deal about the double standards for men and women. At auditions, you would see these really cool male roles, and all of these men would come in of all these different shapes and body types and what people would talk about was how interesting, or cool, or mysterious they all were. And then the female role would come up and it would be just a parade of beautiful women. And then you would send them to the studio and you would get notes back saying, “she’s not sexy enough,” or “I think she’s too challenging.”
G.A.: We’ve all been told to lose weight at some point in our careers. When I was meeting with representatives, I was told that was a condition of them signing me.
A.C.: The first manager that I ever met with in New York told me I needed to lose 10 pounds and asked me if I had a gym that I had signed up to. I remember walking out thinking I was never going to make it here.
E.D.: I was told to lose weight, too, and since I have been on the other side, I thought, “Yeah, they’re right.” None of us were chubby, by the way, I just had a normal body type. When I lived in Michigan, I was skinny! But when they said that, I thought: “Okay, I have two choices. I can either gain 15 more pounds and commit to being a character actress or I can lose 30.”
G.A.: I want to add, that I am finding more and more women in mainstream movies with real bodies. They just look real; they look healthy. Rebecca Ferguson has the most gorgeous body and she’s in Mission: Impossible. Rachel McAdams—beautiful body. They just said, “This is my body and here we go.”
A.C.: Kate Winslet!
E.D.: Kate Winslet is the poster girl.
This fall has been a particularly great season for female-led shows. There’s Issa Rae’s Insecure, Pamela Adlon’s Better Things, and Pitch on Fox. What shows or characters do you think feature particularly inspiring female characters?
E.D.: I have to say the first season of Fargo . . .
E.D./A.C./G.A.: Allison Tolman!
E.D.: Nobody ever talks about her weight, she has a romantic relationship, and she’s a badass! I thought that was one of the strongest, most feminist TV characters I’ve ever seen on television.
A.C.: I know that this is on Amazon, but I love One Mississippi.
G.A.: I watched Fleabag twice, the whole thing, in one weekend. I loved it that much.
E.D.: Also Catastrophe. Sharon Horgan is great and that second season is so real. It’s so exciting that there are enough of these that we can all pick our favorite feminist lead on a different show. A few years ago, it would’ve been like, “I don’t know, Rachel from Friends?” I remember discovering Sex and the City when I was 19 and in Flint and being mind-blown.
Did you ever ask your mothers or grandmothers what it was like to be a woman during the late ’60s and early ’70s, which is when the show takes place?
G.A.: My mom was a secretary at Time at that time. But when she was working there, it was just after the [Newsweek] lawsuit, so women had been hired in figurehead positions. But she did confirm that the workplace was a very sexy, sexual place, where people were dating. That was a place where you would go meet your husband; those boundaries were being crossed.
E.D.: My mother’s parents had a really terrible marriage. The whole time growing up it seemed perfectly normal to me that they slept on separate floors and barely spoke to each other. At one point, I finally asked someone what had happened between them. And it turns out that my grandfather once left my grandmother for a younger woman and took all of their money and lost all of their money—the younger woman stole it. And my grandfather eventually came back and my grandmother took him back because she didn’t know how to survive. She never had a job, she never had a career; she had always been a wife and a mother. She didn’t have a bank account. She felt like she had no option but to take him back. And they spent the rest of their lives in this fairly miserable marriage and that’s the story that has always stuck with me.
A.C.: My mom came from a really traditional Southern family. She was never in the workforce. She left college early to marry my dad and had my sister really young. She was happy with that and she did a wonderful job raising us. But later in life, we’ve had discussions before where she wishes she could’ve gone out and done something for herself.
What was your favorite thing to wear or your least favorite thing to wear on the show?
G.A.: I loved all of it and would’ve walked away with all of it if I was okay with getting fired.
E.D.: If you gave me a pile of pantyhose to burn, I would gladly light them on fire.
Did you guys watch Michelle Obama’s speech in New Hampshire?
E.D.: Yes! I cried. It’s my happy place. I told my boyfriend if we ever broke up, I’m making a play for Michelle Obama, even though she’s happily married.
G.A.: I feel like the amazing thing about the Donald Trump thing, the Kelly Oxford thing, the Good Girls Revolt thing, is that it used to be the case in 1969 that men really had no idea because they hadn’t seen it happen. All they knew is that women were in certain roles. And so I get excited when this crazy, sexist shit happens because I feel like now we’re all going to talk about it and you can’t claim ignorance any more.
E.D.: It is upsetting a lot of men as much as it is upsetting women, and that makes me really happy. For example, my friends are doing a pantsuit march for Hillary this weekend and I sent out an email inviting people. The first three people who wrote back to me where my three male friends saying: “I hope Ann Taylor has my size!”
You should wear a feminist T-shirt like the one at Dior to that pantsuit march. I’ve become addicted to buying feminist slogan T-shirts because of this election.
E.D.: I did that! I went on Etsy one day to look at T-shirts and I saw my cart and there were eight feminist T-shirts in there. I was like, “I can’t spend $ 190 on this.”
G.A.: Yes, you can. It’s cheaper than a stylist!
E.D.: When we get a second season, the first thing I’m going to do is treat myself to all of them.