Loosely based on the true story of Sophia Amoruso, Netflix series Girlboss debuted on April 21 and immediately sent us back to the aughties as we once again mourned the death of Marissa Cooper, sang along to Modest Mouse and relived the torture of choosing a MySpace Top 8.
But Girlboss's purpose wasn't just to make us grateful for the internet speeds of 2017. It was to follow the ups and downs of Sophia Marlowe (Britt Robertson) as she went from broke-ass shoplifter to online vintage clothing entrepreneur after starting her eBay shop, Nasty Gal.
Though it only dropped last Friday, the reviews for #Girlboss are in, and the vintage fashion forums — and critics — have spoken! But is the series the undervalued gem you've been scouring the dusty racks of Netflix to unearth, or is it more suited to a clearance bin at an outlet store? Take a look at what the critics have to say about Girlboss:
'Girlboss' poor timing is just the tip of the iceberg'
Collider critic Aubrey Page didn't exactly hold back when she awarded the series 2 stars out of 5, citing poor timing (Nasty Gal filed for bankruptcy just a few months ago), and an uninteresting, unlikable main character:
But for all of Girlboss‘ bluster, the real problem isn’t that Sophia is unlikeable, it’s that she’s uninteresting. Hardly fleshed out beyond a line drawing of a devil-may-care rebel who hardly blinks at the idea of raiding a dead woman’s closet for vintage goodies, she’s a terribly wobbly center for an already uncentered show. ... It’s impossible not to wonder why the people in her life feel drawn to her in the slightest. There’s her best friend Annie, whose free labor Sophia blatantly exploits to get her eBay brand off the ground; her art school dropout bestie who exists solely to offer Sophia ego boosts on tap; a stoner neighbor (RuPaul) who extends every kindness with nothing in return; and her cardboard on-again, off-again boyfriend who makes Sophia’s poorly sketched personality look like a deep-rooted character study.
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'The show gets exponentially better once it starts telling different — and often surprisingly emotional — stories'
Vox gave the series 3.5 out of 5, writing that Girlboss drastically improves after it allows main character, Sophia to give a damn about anyone or anything else, other than herself:
The show wastes way too much energy on showcasing what a take-no-shit badass she is, for no apparent reason beyond proving how much she doesn’t care about your opinions, man. And it’s too bad, because the show gets exponentially better once it starts telling different — and often surprisingly emotional — stories.
The show’s saving grace is that even though Sophia’s personal — and honestly, pretty flatly written struggles — continue throughout the series, Girlboss takes a smarter turn once it finally decides to let her care about something other than herself.
'Girlboss is so unrelentingly tone-deaf to the human condition it’s hard to know where to start'
The Guardian's Julia Raeside wrote that Girlboss seemingly pandered to self indulgent, lazy millennials, adding that it acted almost like an example that the world does in fact owe them a comfortable life:
Girlboss is so unrelentingly tone-deaf to the human condition it’s hard to know where to start. It purports to be not only Sophia’s story but a rallying cry to dyspeptic, wasteful goons everywhere who think the world owes them a lovely time with zero input or effort expended.
The cry is: do what you like and figure it all out as you go along because you’re probably fabulous. Sophia’s epiphany here isn’t one of self-knowledge. She just finds an expensive jacket going cheap in a thrift store, sells it on eBay for hundreds, and cries. Money makes her cry. It’s everything wrong with the world today, distilled into a single, selfish tear.
'Holding down nearly every Girlboss scene, Robertson is a tiny ball of energy and emotion'
Writing for The Hollywood Reporter, Daniel Fienberg praised Britt Robertson's performance as Sophia, and echoed Vox's opinion that the series only found its footing once it branched out to focussing on characters other than Sophia:
It's Sophia's story and her domination leaves the main supporting roles rather thin. You can see Girlboss realizing that and concentrating later episodes on Annie in particular, eventually paying off for Reed. It's the stable of recurring players that will keep some viewers interested as Norm Macdonald, Jim Rash and Louise Fletcher all steal scenes. You wouldn't think a comedy would need comic relief, but that's what RuPaul provides amply as Sophia's resourceful neighbor. Melanie Lynskey also makes the most of a couple of later episodes as the leader of the Vintage Fashion Forum, a group that takes issue with Sophia's business practices.
'The show does have moments of brilliance'
While Glamour's Elizabeth Logan agrees that the main character of Sophia isn't exactly likable, overall she still recommends the series, recognizing some great storylines, as well some clever writing and ideas:
Outside of the Sophia of it all, the show does have moments of brilliance. It gets a lot of mileage out of the early aughts without making it a gimmick or a crutch (e.g., the "look how big my cell phone is!" jokes in so many lesser scripts). There's an extended riff on Marissa dying on The O.C. and an episode that revolves around Sophia's MySpace Top 8.
There is a framing device, in the back half of the run, that sets up a sort of personified cyberspace, an IRL chatroom. Characters ping! and boop! in and out of their chairs as users log on and off, speaking in near-monotone about whether or not it's OK to spam the conversation with links and pictures. It's funny, it's of the time, it showcases the actors, and it doesn't look like everything else on television. It's the best moment of the show, almost worth the price of admission.
Overall it seems that much like the original Nasty Gal Vintage on Ebay, the reviews are mixed when it comes to Girlboss. While the series seems to have left the door open for a Season 2, time will tell whether or not Netflix decides Sophia's story can be improved upon with a second season.
Girlboss Season 1 is available to stream on Netflix now
Have you seen Girlboss? What did you think of the series?