The stars of“Good Girls Revolt”want you to know their show is not a “Mad Men” knock-off.
While both are ‘60s workplace dramas with a flair for the music and fashion of the era, the tone and verve of Amazon’s new ten-part series feel more like if Peggy Olson got a spin-off.
Created by Dana Calvo (“Narcos”), season one of “Good Girls Revolt” opens in 1969, just as “Mad Men” was winding down. It tells the true story of how 46 women at Newsweek sued their bosses for gender discrimination in a landmark 1970 case, detailed in the book“The Good Girls Revolt”by Lynn Povich.
The series’ heroines Jane (Anna Camp, “Pitch Perfect” and “True Blood”), Patti (Genevieve Angelson, “Backstrom”) and Cindy (Erin Darke, “Love and Mercy”), are twentysomethings who work at the fictionalized News of the Week at a time when the men were reporters and the women were resigned to the role of researchers — essentially, they did the heavy lifting, but never saw a byline.
But this story is unmistakably theirs.
“Don Draper is the voice of ‘Mad Men’ and he is bitter and jaded. These three girls are full of light and hope,” says Camp, (who, incidentally, you may recognize as Draper’s mistress Bethany van Nuys in “Mad Men” Season 4).
We sat down with the three stars to talk about how the show tackles issues, from sexual discrimination to the wage gap, that make it so relevant today — and how the costuming helped them all seamlessly transition back to the era.
This show could not be premiering at a more apropos time. There’s a scene when Joy Bryant’s character (based on the ACLU lawyer Eleanor Holmes Norton) says, “Ten is better than two, two is better than one,” that made me think of how Trump’s video led to so many women coming forward about sexual assault.
Angelson: The other thing that Joy [Bryant] says is, she references the quote ‘I freed a thousand slaves, I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.’ I think that’s a lot of what this dialogue has created. Kelly Oxford saying [on Twitter] “tweet me your first sexual assaults” and everyone having to be in a national dialogue about what sexual assault is. For me, it makes it very exciting that Trump is saying the things he is saying, because if people are going to think those things, let’s say them out loud.
Darke: If Trump weren’t running for president, if we had a sane human being [instead] and less of this national conversation and less relevance for this show, I’d take the trade! I was horrified while making the pilot by how relevant it was, the everyday inequalities and workplace interactions with men and women. I already was like, this show is so relevant! And then we made the season, and stepped off set and into this election, and I was like, ‘holy sh—, it’s like Amazon is paying him!’
Camp: I want to woo Melania [Trump] over and be like, “Leave, leave, we’ll give you a guest star on the show! We can save you and your daughters!”
Each of your characters starts out at such a different place. Can you talk a little bit about your respective arcs for the season?
Camp:I’m just very happy that Jane gets dumped by her boyfriend, because right now all her goals and life trajectory are wrapped up in this guy. She loves going to work every day, but she knows that’s going to end and she’s going to get married and move to Connecticut and have the perfect life, and then when he does that, so many doors are opened and her entire world is rocked. Jane is definitely a slow burn, but there’s lots of layers of the onion that get peeled.
Darke:Cindy starts in this place where she’s not happy, but she’s almost not confident enough to think that she deserves that happiness. I think a lot of the journey in this season for Cindy is realizing that she wants something more, trying to get it, and sometimes trying to find it in the wrong outlet, while learning that maybe, she can provide that for herself. Cindy makes a lot of mistakes as she grows.
Angelson:Patti is this character who loves to get away with stuff. Getting away with dressing differently from everybody else at work, going to San Francisco, having a secret relationship. She thrives on bucking convention and getting attention for it. For her the series starts in a place where she can’t thrive. She meets an obstacle that she cannot toy with. It’s just a barrier to the thing that is deep, deep in her essence [wanting equal opportunity].
How did you guys get into the feel of the era while preparing for the roles?
Camp:Our costume designer was amazing. And hair and makeup. When I get out of the make-up and hair trailer and I have to walk out, my head is so heavy from all the pins! You slip on the girdle and the panty hose, and you’re completely transformed.
Angelson:One of magical things I find about doing period work is you just step onto the sets and you just feel like you’re in a different world, you put on your costume and you just don’t feel like everyday yourself anymore.
What are some of your favorite outfits?
Camp:Oh, I love my white coat. I did not take my pointy bra home (laughs).
Angelson:Don’t make me pick among my children. They’re my babies, I love them all so much. There’s a scene in which I go to a jazz club and I’m wearing this long green dress that just made me feel like I was the queen of the ocean. I only got to wear it in that scene, and it was like, ‘Dammit, so little exposure, for such a moment!’
Darke:I like to think that if we come back for Season 2, [our favorite outfits] will just be in our closet, they can come back. I love the clothing of that era because it’s meant to appreciate the female form and embrace curves and femininity in a way that a lot of clothes today don’t.
What is the vibe among the cast? Did you guys spent a lot of time hanging in NYC?
Camp:No, don’t shout them out because then they’ll be full of people! We’d have pool parties at my house because it was so hot.
Darke:When I get tired I get silly, we’d sing songs.
Angelson:My dog Jack was there, we had a set dog.
Darke:It’s exciting, when you’ve just had a 60 or 70 hour work week and it’s Friday night and you’re like, did you still want to hang out?