January 22, 2018

The Women Behind ‘Good Girls Revolt’ Say the Feminist Show Was Cut Short Too Soon

The Women Behind ‘Good Girls Revolt’ Say the Feminist Show Was Cut Short Too Soon


Now, fans of the series are wondering whether it might have survived under different leadership.

Dana Calvo, the show’s creator and executive producer, said in a phone interview that when she went to pitch a second season of “Good Girls Revolt” to Mr. Price on Nov. 30, 2016, she learned that he had never watched the first. “He confirmed that by having us refer to the characters by the actresses’ names,” she said. “He was unfamiliar.”

Still, she was surprised to learn — the very next day — that it would not be picked up for a second season. “It didn’t line up. It was confusing. It just didn’t make sense,” she said.

The series was inspired by a nonfiction book, “The Good Girls Revolt,” by Lynn Povich, a journalist who worked at Newsweek during the 1960s. She was one of dozens of women who filed a sex discrimination lawsuit against the newsmagazine in 1970.

The Season 1 trailer for “Good Girls Revolt.” Video by Series Trailer MP

The actor Joy Bryant played Eleanor Holmes Norton in the series, a character named for the real-life lawyer who represented the women suing Newsweek.

“All the actors who worked on the show understood the importance of what we were doing, and how we really needed to honor the story and honor these women,” Ms. Bryant said in a phone interview.

She spent time getting to know Ms. Norton, who became the first woman to lead the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 1977 and is now the District of Columbia’s delegate to the United States House of Representatives.

Ms. Bryant said she was “blindsided” when the show was not picked up for a second season, and the drama was heightened by real-world events. Season 1 began streaming on Amazon in late October, just before Donald J. Trump beat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election.

“I know we’re talking about T.V., but it was sort of a microcosm of what was going on,” she said. “We thought we had it in the bag. There’s no way he’s going to win. There’s no way we’re getting canceled.”

“That happened, and that happened, and it was like … we’re really operating against some crazy forces right now,” she said.

Anna Camp, who played the strait-laced magazine researcher Jane Hollander, said she was “shocked” when the series was not renewed.

Then she heard about Mr. Price’s resignation. “It was just so meta, or twisted, when we found out Roy Price had been accused of sexual harassment,” she added. “So many frustrated fans were reaching out and saying, ‘Now that he’s gone, maybe the show could come back.’ ”

Ms. Povich said the outcry reminded her that “there is power in numbers,” a lesson she learned at Newsweek during the 1960s and 1970s.

“It was a complicated time,” Ms. Povich said, adding that the newsmagazine resisted hiring permanent female writers even after the 1970 complaint. A second lawsuit in 1972 laid out more concrete goals and seemed to achieve better results, including Ms. Povich’s appointment to a senior editor position in 1975.

Ms. Povich worked with Ms. Calvo to shape the show and said she was sorry to see it end. “I cannot tell you how many young women I heard from who loved the series, and who also had no idea what my generation or their mothers’ generation or their grandmothers’ generation went through,” she said.

Ms. Calvo said the series got a warm reception from fans and good reviews on the website Rotten Tomatoes, where it has a 96 percent general audience approval rating. (The site’s approved critics gave the show a rating of 71 percent.)

In a review last October, The New York Times called the series “well-timed, well-meaning, with a few smart takes,” but added that it “just misses the nuance and rounded characters that separate timeless fiction from the news of the week.”

Amazon Studios, the company’s original programming division, does not release viewership data. “We had high hopes for Good Girls Revolt when it was green-lighted, but it had a low season completion rate, and did not perform well on the service,” the company said in an emailed statement.

A spokesman would not speculate on whether the company might consider signing on for a second season, and declined to confirm who made the decision not to renew in 2016.

Ms. Povich said that in light of the harassment allegations against Mr. Price, Amazon should look at the series again “with a much more objective point of view.”

Ms. Camp agreed. “To have our voices taken away from us so abruptly, and to have it all unfold the way it has, has been incredibly frustrating,” she said. “I miss Jane, and I really want to play her again.”





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