A show about a young woman who achieves success through the hard sell, Girlboss tries very hard to sell you on itself. This new Netflix sitcom, which begins streaming on Friday, stars Britt Robertson as Sophia, a dreamer and schemer in 2006 San Francisco. Intelligent and ambitious, she’s bored by the 9-to-5 service jobs she’s had, and stumbles upon a business idea she inflates into a career. Based on Sophia Amoruso’s autobiography #Girlboss, about how the author founded her Nasty Gal online store, this TV series tries to capture some of the adventure in venture capitalism, but it suffers from an excess of aggressive cutesiness.
As created by Kay Cannon and directed by Christian Ditter (with Charlize Theron as one of its executive producers), Girlboss showcases Robertson’s energetic performance as a plucky working gal: The show is like an entire half-hour of the opening credits to The Mary Tyler Moore Show (she’s gonna make it after all!) or — slightly less well-known but more accurate — the opening credits for the 1960s Marlo Thomas sitcom That Girl (“She’s everything that every girl should be!”). Sophia scampers around San Francisco smiling brightly, genially insulting store owners who don’t recognize her talent, shoplifting food and, at least once, a rug. In all this, we’re supposed to find her utterly charming. Instead, she’s exhausting and more than a little off-putting. Especially when she hollers things like, “Dollah, dollah bills, y’all!”
The show tries to surround her with people who admire Sophia so that we will admire Sophia. These include the cute drummer in a band she likes (Johnny Simmons), and Norm Macdonald as a security guard in one of the boring places Sophia works to make rent money.
Girlboss wants you to share in Sophia’s excitement when she discovers that her innate good taste and sense of style can make her big profits on eBay, but the show seems afraid to stay with the business details too long, lest our delicate minds become clouded with all that money-talk. So it constantly reverts to yet another scene of Sophia dancing wildly in a club, or Sophia playing arcade games with madcap glee. The whole thing is alternately tedious and tiring.
Girlboss begins streaming Friday on Netflix.
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