Bomb Girls
Jen Chae

You could probably guess that any show with the word “Girls” in its title, would be about girls who have very different personalities yet remain everlasting friends due to similar life circumstances. GlobalTV’s Bomb Girls indeed falls under this category; it isn’t much different from HBO’s Girls or CW’s Gossip Girl. At first glance, the show seems to have more of a historical content than your average teen drama show; after all, the show is set in 1940s Toronto where Gladys, Betty, Kate and Lorna work at a munitions factory. But their anything-but-glam white uniforms and blue turbans are nowhere near adequate representations of their anything-but-mundane lives. These girls may not be trotting around New York City in designer wardrobes, but their stories are really no different than what you’d see in your typical teenybopper drama series.

Same “Girls”, Different Period

One of the four main girls, Gladys (Jodi Balfour), is one that you will easily familiarize yourself with-- not because she carries flawless demeanor or possesses an uncanny resemblance to Rachel McAdams, but because she’s the stereotypical “spoiled daughter” character you’ve seen everywhere (think Serena van der Woodsen of Gossip Girl). She’s that damsel in distress who drama loves to follow, even though she always remains polite and faultless. Despite her wealthy parents who have provided her with a more-than-privileged life, Gladys wants to move out and work at a factory. She loves to make a big deal out of issues that viewers may find petty. Gladys is the one who, archaically, everybody would kill to be -- though she defies her destiny in hopes to prove that her life couldn’t possibly be so perfect. Betty (Ali Liebert) is the show’s obvious attempt to spice up a mundane character line-up. Yet Betty seems almost too stereotypically non-typical, that she becomes typical. The big punch being thrown here is that Betty is an assumed lesbian who has a crush on her friend, Kate (Charlotte Hegele). This may have been a wild concept circa 1940, but it’s nothing new to anyone who watched The OC eight years ago.

Same Drama, Different Period

Season two jumps right into the overly-dramatic scenarios that bombard you back to back. There’s domestic violence, drunken confessions, manslaughter, ultimatums and heated scenes in the bedroom—all too much to handle within the first two episodes. The ambience keeps you on your toes, but content-wise, it isn’t anything unpredictable. The show has potential to contain more historic matter about the wartime period, but it seems to gear more towards mainstream drama content that involves everything your average teen drama would never miss.

Define “Girls”

The essence of being a girl is a central theme here; viewers are presented with the different types of female roles. Gladys, who calls her father “daddy”, is very much a princess at heart. Kate plays the role of an oppressed, passive daughter who recently frees from the grip of her controlling father. Betty, confused with her sexuality, tries to identify herself as woman by “doing what girls do”: dating boys, even though her heart is not in it. Lorna (Meg Tilly) overcomes female problems– unplanned pregnancy, refusal of abortion and, miscarriage.

Vera (Anastasia Phillips), despite her facial scar, defines herself as womanly in a post-coital scene with her new beau, as she dresses up in his over-sized army outfit while he showers her with compliments. She receives a pair of silk hosiery from him.

You couldn’t possibly define femininity any better than Vera does in that scene. The show definitely has a feminist undertone: it’s about women being tough. Even so, Bomb Girls fails to mark itself unique from contemporary shows about “girls”. Maybe except for the one really cool scene where Betty, Gladys and Kate pass around a cigarette lying in bed— now that, you’d only see happen among bomb girls of the 1940s.


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