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have more of a historical content than your average teen drama show;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.
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.