Launched just two weeks before American voters decide the fate in the presidential election, it's safe to say that Amazon Prime's latest series Good Girls Revolt couldn't have hoped for a more pertinent social climate.
Set in 1969, Good Girls Revolt is a 10-episode fictional series based on the true story of a group of female researchers – known for doing the legwork without getting the bylines, and fetching coffee while their male counterparts earn three times their salary – who file a gender discrimination case against Newsweek magazine.
Adapted from Lynn Povich's book The Good Girls Revolt, the series sees real-life Sixties feminists such as journalist Nora Ephron (played by Grace Gummer) and American Civil Liberties Union activist Eleanor Holmes Norton (Joy Bryant), change up the status quo and inspire the Newsweek female workforce to rebel. 'These women changed the face of the workplace forever,' says star of the show Genevieve Angelson.
Likened to Mad Men, viewers can expect to see derogatory cat-calls in the office, men taking the praise for female researchers' hard graft and heart-breaking discussions regarding contraception, peppered with bouffant hairstyles, miniskirts, plaid and a whole lot of flared jeans. But contrary to the Joans and Peggys before them, who clenched their teeth and turned a blind eye to sexism, these Manhattanites bring feminism to the forefront of the water cooler conversation.
We caught up with the show's three lead actresses – Anna Camp, Genevieve Angelson, and Erin Darke – to talk casual sexism, Donald Trump, behind-the-scenes drama and the discomfort of a girdle:
Congratulations on 'Good Girls Revolt', how does it feel now viewers are finally able to watch it?
Genevieve: It's extremely personal to me, both like the work itself and the subject matter. I think the right word to describe how I feel is 'tender'.
It must have been such a dream script for actresses like yourselves?
Erin: Yeah. I think for on behalf of all three of us I can say that when we read the script, we saw these incredibly strong female characters and learned it was a story about life and empowerment. I was so overjoyed the show was even being made. I can't express how excited I was I got to be in it.
You all play incredibly varied, strong female characters in the show. What are they like?
Genevieve: I play Patti Robinson who is a kind of wild child, 'f*ck convention' representative of counterculture. Patti has always wanted to be a writer and move to Cairo, travel the world and live without boundaries.
Erin: I play Cindy Reston who has been raised in the traditional family and spent her life believing she would get married, have kids and settle down but she starts to realise that that might not be the life she truly wants. She doesn't have the self-confidence or self-worth to believe she deserves the life she wants. The first season is incredibly exciting for Cindy because you watch her battle with the workplace and also with herself.
Anna: Jane Hollander is the head researcher at Newsweek but she is a woman of the 60s who doesn't plan on working for that long, she's got a great boyfriend, she wants children, dreams of moving to Connecticut and becoming a happy housewife. She loves her boyfriend but throughout the series she realises it's ok to get satisfaction from being at work and your job. She's got a lot to learn but there might be a little of the wild child in her.
What surprised you most about researching the 'Good Girls Revolt' era?
Erin: The casualness of the sexism. A lot of the men during that time weren't trying to be sexist or put women down – that's just how they were raised. They expected women to get them coffee, be okay with doing as much work as them and having a lower role. Sexism was so casual – it was just the way it was.
The show is coming out at a time when the United States could potentially have their first female president. What are your views on the current state of gender equality?
Erin: The show is incredibly pertinent right now. The election has brought a lot of discussion to the forefront of women's rights and role in society and how they should be equal. A lot of things about this election and how relevant this show is are disturbing to me, but I'm also happy that it has created a discussion about feminism. It's tragic how relevant our show is – unfortunately Trump has made our show incredibly pertinent.
Genevieve: People often get very discouraged by news of gender discriminaton and sexual assault from the likes of Roger Ailes (former Chairman and CEO of Fox News who resigned in July after accusations of sexual harassment from female members of FOX staff) and Donald Trump but I have to tell you that, privately, a little part of me is excited because I know that this stuff has been going on for a long time and now everyone is talking about it. But, in the 1960s there was no precedent for how to treat women equally.
There's so much female solidarity seen in the show but what was the vibe like on set among the cast and crew?
Genevieve: It was great. I feel like most people knew what kind of show we were working on and the stories we wanted to tell. We had amazing male actors who were incredibly respectful and passionate to tell the story truthfully.
One of the things I found empowering about this show was how many women we had working on it. There was a time where the three of us were rehearsing a scene and I looked around and realised everyone in the room was female – the producers, the writers, the directors – and it was an incredibly empowering moment. There were also women among the crew in roles traditionally held by men like the director of photography and assistant director. It was all very important to the culture of the show.
Finally, we can't talk about the show without discussing the clothes. Did any of the Sixties styles rub off on you?
Erin: I loved wearing the outfits for about three hours and then I wanted to take them all off.
Anna: I think my back may have gone out at one point because wearing a girdle all the time was making me walk very odd. I'd feel so awesome in those clothes from the era because they accentuated a woman's figure but a few hours later I'd be saying, 'Jesus Christ, get me out of this!'.
You can watch the entire series of Good Girls Revolt on Amazon Prime Video, out now.