“Bomb Girls”, Season 1Posted: January 17, 2013
Here’s something different for me: a period drama series that I like that is not British or Mad Men. “Bomb Girls” is a Canadian TV series telling the stories of four women working in a munition factory during World War II, starting in 1941 – Gladys, an heiress looking to be taken seriously; Betty, who hides a painful secret under her tough exterior; Kate, who’s escaped her abusive preacher father to find a new life; and Lorna, the traditional (and some would say repressed) shift matron with two sons oversea and a wheelchair-bound husband.
The closest comparison that I can think of is Pan Am – it is a workplace drama with female leads – but Pan Am is too slick and glamorous to be a good reference for “Bomb Girls”. And unlike Pan Am, romance isn’t the focus here. It’s not about who these girls hook up with (there are romantic subplots, but that’s all they are – subplots), it’s about how they navigate through their tough, sometimes life-threatening work environment, the casual sexism of the time, with the threat of war hanging over it all. The characters, including the men, are surprisingly more well-rounded too. It’s actually much closer to A League of Their Own than Pan Am. Also, kudos to the writers for having a lesbian (closeted, but that can’t be helped) as one of the main characters. That’s better than even Mad Men, which has only one homosexual character with a storyline, and that was about three seasons ago.
I have a few complaints, though. Although it is an ensemble show, Gladys gets the most attention in any given episode, and I get kinda bored with her, maybe because a big part of her storyline deals with her relationship with her fiance, which I don’t really buy. I would much rather see Betty or Kate as the lead. Another subplot that deals with Vera, another girl in the factory who has a bad accident that leaves her deformed and suicidal, also feels too heavy and soap opera-y. Still, those are minor, and only about this specific season.
It’s really rare for me to watch a show where I only recognize one of the actors (Meg Tilly, as Lorna), but I have no complaints about the performance. As for the costumes and sets, I would say they’re the same compared to Pan Am as The Hour compared to Mad Men – “Bomb Girls” is not a glossy Technicolor magazine cover of the 1940’s, but it looks fairly accurate and pretty.
Originally planned as a mini series, it’s been turned into a full series, with the second season just starting. Given the premise, I’m not sure how long it will last, but I’m excited to find out what happens next.