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Why ‘Good Girls Revolt’ Deserves The Musical Treatment

If you haven’t seen the smashing singular season of “Good Girls Revolt,” a newsroom drama set in 1969, stop whatever you’re doing and go watch it, because you are missing out. Based on a novel of the same name by Lynn Povich, the show follows a group of women working at a high-profile news magazine as underpaid researchers for the magazine’s male writers. Most of the women have higher ambitions, and after tiring of their work being published with someone else’s name on it, they band together to do something about it.

Given my natural theatre bias, one of the first thoughts I had upon finishing the series (aside from outrage that Amazon dropped the show after the first season), was its potential for a stage adaptation.

Here are seven reasons why “Good Girls Revolt” needs to be made into a musical ASAP:

1. Plenty of Strong Female Characters


There are a variety of female characters, each with a well-developed story arc. They each have their reasons for wanting to be writers and reporters and their own set of challenges to overcome in addition to the central issue of gender politics of the newsroom. The women take center stage, playing characters with substance and depth, reaching beyond the standard role of the love interest. There are even a few real-life figures that show up as characters, including famed writer and filmmaker Nora Ephron, played by Grace Gummer, Meryl Streep’s daughter.

2. Interesting Plot Lines


There is a vast assortment of content to choose from when it comes to plot. While the series carries the main thread of the women fighting to become writers through the entire season, each episode has several subplots running alongside it. The women learn to navigate affairs of the heart, sexual freedom, familial pressures, personal goals and societal expectations of marriage and a woman’s place, just to name a few. The variety in plotlines certainly keeps the pace moving, making it perfect for the plot of a stage show.

3. Historical Significance


The rising women’s movement isn’t the only historically significant moment on the show. “Good Girls Revolt” doesn’t shy away from the critical issues of the time — it leans into them. The Vietnam War is one of the historical events expertly woven in, with one of the women trying to reach her husband who is serving in the military and another trying to help a soldier struggling to adapt to civilian life due to PTSD.

4. Swoon-Worthy Costumes


The vintage beauty of “Good Girls Revolt” is similar to that of the costume work on “Mad Men” and historic Tony Award-winning shows such as “Hairspray.” It’s any costume designer’s dream. From wild-child hippie Patti to straight-laced chic Jane and sweet, classic Cindy, the characters provide a style smorgasbord.

5. Transferable Sets


New York City provides the backdrop, with most of the series taking place on the streets, the apartments of the female characters and the magazine office. Translating these types of settings to the stage has been done before and could certainly be done again with the right team and creativity.

6. Timely Issues


The title alone suggests the focus of the show is feminist issues, which would be enough to make it relevant to today’s viewers. But there is so much more than that. Throughout the series, plotlines address issues of gender inequality, racial discrimination, women in roles of power, the choice between career and marriage, sexual harassment in the workplace and support for veterans with PTSD. The show strikes a good balance of bringing them to light in a way that is compelling without seeming preachy.

7. Musical Potential

via GIPHY With the show set in 1969, the choices for musical style are vast given the musical influences of the 1960s and 1970s. The possibility of the Lin-Manuel Miranda “Hamilton” approach would lend itself nicely to this show, pairing each character with an artist or style of music that fits their personality. For example, free-spirited and rebellious Patti Robinson’s songs could be written with a Janis Joplin influence.

On top of being a whole lot of fun to watch, “Good Girls Revolt” brings a slew of relevant topics to the table. While some of the details have changed, many of these issues remain a part of society’s social and political landscape, and what better way to open the floor for conversation than through the arts?

So Mr. Miranda, if you’re listening, I think I’ve found your next show.    

Written by Katelynn Johnston

Katelynn is a writer and elementary arts teacher from Toronto. From acting to choreographing to directing, she has been fortunate enough to take part in a variety of shows.

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