Brow Beat

The Good Girls Revolt Trailer Shows the Dangers of Sexism and Sort-of-True Stories

Amazon just released the trailer for its upcoming series Good Girls Revolt, a fictionalized drama based on Lynn Povich’s The Good Girls Revolt, about the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint filed by female staffers at Newsweek in 1970. The show’s cinematography may give a clue to its approach to history: It looks faded like an old color photo—not the way the 1970 looked at the time but the way we might imagine it today. Newsweek has become News of the Week magazine, headed by “William ‘Wick’ McFadden” (Jim Belushi) instead of Osborn “Oz” Elliot; Katharine Graham is nowhere to be seen. But real people are there too: The complaint is being handled by Eleanor Holmes Norton (Joy Bryant), and Nora Ephron (Grace Gummer) is there in the thick of things, despite having worked at Newsweek years earlier. (By 1970 she’d done a five-year stint as a reporter at the New York Post and moved on to Esquire and New York.)

It’s easy to see why the story was so heavily fictionalized: News of the Week seems to have an extraordinarily sexually charged office environment, complete with sex on credenzas, and workplace sexism is much easier to understand when male editors are failing to acknowledge Nora Ephron’s talent. The show will inevitably be compared to Mad Men, and it’s true, a lot of advertising agencies were less interesting places to work than Sterling Cooper. But unless you feel strongly about Conrad Hilton, Mad Men didn’t do much with Young Indiana Jones–style cameos from real people, and none of its anachronisms quite rose to the ridiculousness of having Eleanor Holmes Norton ask, “You good with that?” Audiences will get to see if Good Girls Revolt dramatizes its source material in more interesting ways than the trailer implies when it’s released on Oct. 28.