Rophy says: So you may have noticed that Rophy have gone kind of nuts over a little Canadian TV show named ‘Bomb Girls’ recently. Naturally we believe pretty strongly that any and all Rophites should go similarly nuts forthwith. This need is made all the less ego-driven and all the more urgent by the fact that a third season of the show has not been ordered. We need that third season, you guys. You need that third season, even if you don’t realize it yet. With that in mind we have compiled a list of the top ten reasons to SAVE BOMB GIRLS.
Please be aware that this list does not contain the number one reason to save Bomb Girls, which is that Rophy really, really, really want to recap a third season of the show, complete with LOLs, fawning and ridiculous over-analysis.
There is currently a #SaveBombGirls campaign going on, run by some devoted fans who we appreciate greatly for trying to save a show so dear to our hearts.
Visit the website: www.savebombgirls.com
AND DONATE TO THE CAMPAIGN: https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/6V8I5
All proceeds from here on out go to the Ajax Bomb Girls Legacy Campaign in honour of the real life Bettys, Lornas, Veras, Kates and Gladyses.
(If you’re going to donate, leave a message with your donation saying RophyDoes sent you and we’ll donate more for every person who does so!)
Now! Onto all the reasons you should want to save Bomb Girls too!
10. …because the cast
Rin says: There is never not going to be a time when we don’t appreciate a great ensemble cast. Even if we didn’t love literally everything else, we would still want to save this show because this cast deserves it. And it truly is an ensemble cast in the sense that everyone holds their own and there are certainly no weak links. Which is why this show excels at having multiple plots going at any giving moment, whether it involves two characters, four, or just one — they can always carry a story and keep it interesting.
I also love it when actors are passionate about their show and their character. You only have to watch some of their interviews on YouTube to get a sense that they really love what they’re doing and believe in the stories they’re trying to tell. THEY’RE ALSO ALL REALLY CUTE WITH EACH OTHER AND I CAN’T JUST LET THAT GO TO WASTE.
And I bet you didn’t know Jodi Balfour (Glayds) is South African. She pronounces the show as ‘bum girls’ you guys. YOU GUYS.
And yes, Charlotte Hegele looks like Lily Loveless. They probably need to play sisters at some point. OR AT ALL POINTS, IDK IDK.
Sophy says: This cast. I love how much they care about the show and each other. When I really love a show, the first thing I’ll do after catching up with everyone else is spend a whole lot of time just thinking about it. You know, daydreaming plot resolutions, digging into who the characters are, making top tens in my head of everything from who is the most badass to who looks best in a turban. The next thing I’ll do is commence a rewatch. And in the meantime I familiarise myself with the cast. I spent the better part of an evening last week just watching interviews on youtube and falling in love. I listened to a radio interview with Anastasia all the way through. That’s not something I’ll usually do, because, quite honestly, more often than not, when actors speak about their characters there’s not that much to listen to and you need a pretty visual to keep you engaged. They’re always asked the same things and they always give the same answers, and most of the time they’re either being cute and quippy or just going through the motions because that’s what they’re paid to do. But this cast? Their show matters to them. Their characters matter to them. Okay, maybe not quite the obsessive extent of fangirls like us, but really, we have a whole blog for our TV feelings. We are not normal people.
I couldn’t help feeling terribly sad when I watched an interview with Meg Tilly in which she talked about her audition for the show and why she decided to choose Bomb Girls as her comeback after 18 years off the screen. I felt sad because she loved Lorna and she loved the show and she was just so full of energy and intelligent thought. I couldn’t help feeling how unfair it was that a series like this with a woman of that calibre at the helm can possibly be axed. I mean, she talked about Lorna. She really talked about her and said things that mattered to me. This shouldn’t be unusual. But it is.
And you know, then there’s the guy who played Ivan. He is amusing as heck. Ali is hilarious and especially with Jodi. Jodi is a little Hermione with her books from the Vancouver library. Charlotte is adorably shy and seems anxious to say the right thing, and really, how often do young actresses care what you think? Antonio seems genuinely awed by working with so many amazing woman, as he should be. Anastasia is fucking smart and should have had a lot more video interviews than the none I found.
So yeah, even if we didn’t love the show, we would still kind of want to love it because these people are so bright and charismatic and make us feel like all our fangirling is worthwhile.
Oh and Jodi saying ‘Bum Girls’ is the best. It should be a ring-tone.
9. …because pretty
Rin says: You guys are well aware that here on RophyDoes we are always appreciating the pretty. Always. And Bomb Girls makes no exception. The amount of effort that goes into making this as authentic as can be is evident, and there has never been a moment where I’ve felt like I wasn’t immersed in a Canadian 1940s era. From the costumes, the sets and the props, everything has been on point — especially when it comes to scenes in the factory and the hospital. I’m often left wondering where on earth they found all of the props, or did they have it all made especially for the show?? It’s pretty amazing, and I’m sure they don’t have half the budget most American shows do.
Sophy says: Oh gosh, this show is just lovely to look at! Like Rin said, there’s never a moment where you feel like these are actors playing dress-up in sets that someone will tear down when they’re done. Whether it is 100% authentic or not is something I’m not qualified to adjudicate, but the fact remains that they have created a world – a vision of the 40’s in Canada – and we never step out of that world. You feel transported when watching Bomb Girls, to a place that is gritty and glamorous at the same time. The women always look amazing, whether they’re in their work clothes or dolled up for a night out. Little things matter – like Lorna’s proud, fresh-scrubbed face, like her sudden curls-and-lipstick. Betty’s pants. Vera’s florals that are just a little too bright. And there’s just something about the light and the colour palettes that feels… well… vintage?
And then sometimes it’s nothing to do with being transported by anything but how pretty everything is. Rin has the eye for these things, being a designer, but even a layman like me could see that a lot of effort has gone into the visual presentation of Bomb Girls. We appreciate it.
Rin says: Hahah oh my god, would you please stop referring to yourself as a layman when it comes to good design? You have a better eye for these things than most people do, and I have an entire tumblr to prove it.
Sophy says: You and TV have been my teachers. As in all things.
8. …because Kate’s singing
Rin says: She literally ushers in the show for us with a song, and her voice continues to be used throughout the show, not just as a means of YAY PRETTY SINGING! but as an actual storytelling device. I love the way it is so key to Kate’s character and her journey and how it’s basically a metaphor for her arc as a person. When we first meet her she’s fresh faced and starting a new life and a little naive. When she starts making a life for herself she’s also introduced into a whole new world of singing thanks to Leon. It’s no coincidence that once Kate was able to get away from the grasp of her father and found a new home, friends, a job, that she expanded her singing horizons and started to feel ambitious about it. There could even be a future with it.
Then her father comes back and they try to bury everything under the tarp and it kind of all goes to hell. And Kate loses her voice.
AND THEN HER FRIENDS SHOW HER THE WAY BACK AND ENCOURAGE HER TO FIND HER VOICE AGAIN AND THE NEXT THING YOU KNOW SHE’S USING HER MAGICAL SINGING VOICE TO MAKE TRAUMATISED SOLDIERS A LITTLE BIT BETTER.
AND THEN SHE HAS THE COURAGE TO DO BURLESQUE.
Oh Kate Andrews.
Plus I love love love love love that when Leon is all ‘LOLS it’d be funny you looking like you and singing like me’ — and how that never once stops him. And he’s actually her biggest fan/supporter.
GEEZ. If there wasn’t someone I had already committed Kate to, I’d be shipping Kate/Leon.
Sophy says: It’s worth watching the show just to hear Kate sing. I expect Charlotte to have some kind of career as a vocalist, because her voice is so gorgeous. It also has an unusual sort of delicate-but-luxuriant quality to it that may be partly down to her singing in the style of the period, but I think is also a lot down to who she is.
It is frankly outstanding how she communicates so much of Kate’s inner life through her singing. There’s a timidity in her voice at the same time as an absolute joy, and a sense that whenever Kate sings it means something. It’s not just decoration, it’s self-discovery. From the sad, cold songs about souls out on the street with her bully father to the lonely but strong, determined cry of I’m gonna walk it by myself. From the sweet, thrilling burgeoning of I wished on the moon to that shaky-then-slinky Burlesque performance, to singing at the factory in front of all of her peers, to singing at the hospital to a man who was from the same place as her, to a man who had been to the same places – who had been a soldier – who had been hurt – who had been traumatised – who had lost his voice too.
And Leon was beautiful. I know he’s not strictly Kate singing, but it is Kate-singing-adjacent, and whatever, okay, who doesn’t love that moment when Kate is unable to connect to the music and joy and warmth at Leon’s church, but Betty is the one suddenly swept up high by a feeling of acceptance and inspiration and the strength to be the person she knows she has to be? One of the best moments on the show. Truly.
7. …because you just love everyone
Rin says: Like I was saying before about the cast not having any weak links, it is even truer with the supporting characters. So often shows have a bunch of nothing characters that don’t really bring a lot to the table, but a lot of this shows strength lies in its side characters being phenomenal. Even if they’re only present for an episode, they’ll make you wish they were a regular.
Some of the supporting characters, such as Gladys’ parents and Eugene Corbett could easily be mains, despite them having less screentime the development and insight we get to see of them is on par with the mains. And it’s not handed to us in big sloppy chunks of story, but in subtle ways where we get tidbits of who this person is and what they’ve gone through. I think one of the best examples of this is the way they handled Eugene’s character. They introduced us to him as a war hero who was the apple of Lorna’s eye, and I got the sense that he must have been a pretty admirable guy. And when he came back he was really cute with his family and he danced with Sheila and it was adorable and everyone was so happy to have him home. And then it started to slowly turn around and maybe Eugene isn’t this heroic figure at all. And it was in the scene with Lorna and Bob, after their failed dinner for him, when they talk about how they thought the war would turn him into a man, that you realise it was all smoke and mirrors. And Eugene is probably the epitome of characters who you hate, but also have a huge amount of empathy for, and that comes down to the writing and the brilliant performance from Brett Dier.
One of my favourite things about this show is that every person is layered and flawed. Every single one of them, and more than anything that makes them human and relatable. I have next to nothing in common with any of the bomb girls, yet somehow I feel like I’ve been in each of their shoes at one point of another. I’ve also been disappointed and frustrated at all of them along the way, and I love that none of them are perfect.
Sophy says: This is one of the most special things about the show, I think: the way all of the supporting characters matter. The writers don’t just use them in whatever capacity they need at any given time and discard them, they introduce them to us as people. Even with very limited screentime somehow we get to know them so that the next time we see them we feel all warm and fuzzy and interested about it, instead of just treating them like window-dressing while you focus on the main characters – or worse, forgetting who they’re meant to be, as you do so often with shows with a large supporting cast.
Every character on this show feels like an actual human being. Every character has flaws and good sides. Nobody is a simple cliche. And that’s why you want shows like this to go on for as long as possible – so that those characters might get their chance to take centre stage and be developed further. And that’s also why it matters when people like James and Archie are gone for good – because you will actually miss them.
Oh and can the Chinese-American soldier come back and romance Gladys sometime? I’d kind of like it if they eloped and got married. Just to see the look on Mrs Gladys’ face.
AND MRS MARCO AND HER ENORMOUS GOURD. Amazing.
Also, how terrific was Rosie O’Donnell? It’s not like this show really needed another sassy, bad-ass female, but really, can you ever have too many?
And I had to make Rin put Spy-Guy in. Which she only agreed to do when I reminded her that it meant she could add Rosie. Honestly, I can see why some people weren’t thrilled with him, but I feel he became more engaging as time went on and I wound up wanting to know more about him just like I want to know more about every character on this ridiculous, wonderful show.
Rin says: Yeah, I won’t lie that Spy-Guy was the character I was least interested/invested in, but by no means would I say that the show could do without him. It’s just that in a show that is filled to the brim with exciting characters who are breaking down barriers left and right, it’s hard to compete. Also, it’s Dollhouse guy!
6. …because eggs
Rin says: This scene was such a stand out that it gets its own category! And it has nothing to do with my love for eggs, I swear.
Remember near the beginning of the episode when Theresa was selling bonds, and trying to rope Gladys into donating by enticing her with a spatula set, which Gladys wins because she’s Gladys and donating $100 (“Is that too low?” “Princess you never fail.”). And then Theresa is telling her a girl can cook wherever she wants and Gladys is so lame and happy with the set and all, ‘You said it sister!’ and I’m facepalming because you dork.
Then she gets kicked out of her schwanky hotel, has that talk with James, Eugene is up on that rooftop and rooftops are never fun, …and we end up here. Trying to forge her own path that isn’t one her parents paved for her, using her brand new spatula and cooking eggs for herself. For someone like Gladys cooking is a novelty and many would give her a hard time for it being so (Betts would have a field day), but when she’s trying to become more independent and looking so pleased with herself after pouring the eggs into the pan…you can’t help feeling anything but adoration for the girl. She’s trying!
And then she gets the news that James was killed in battle. Her life has literally changed forever and all she can do is try to distract herself with her burnt eggs. She starts a fresh batch and asks Lorna to, “Help me do this right.” And oh my god, you guys. You guys. I think it was the most perfect, poignant, elegant bit of writing/acting/all of the above this show has had. Because Lorna, knowing full well how absurd it is to try to make eggs right after learning your fiance has been killed, immediately starts showing Gladys how to whisk the eggs correctly. And I adore the way the camera slowly pans out as the scene continues to play out, until eventually Gladys can’t hold it together any longer and breaks down in Lorna’s arms. While she still holds the bowl.
They deserve awards. All the awards. Jodi was exceptional throughout this scene, as was Meg. So please. Hand them the awards right now.
Sophy says: This show is full of incredible scenes. Gene on the rooftop. Vera sending Archie to the angels. Kate singing to soldiers, singing to us while Betty gets beaten and bloodied far away without her. But even in the context of such greatness, ‘Eggs’ stands out.
Whilst all the ladies on this show are important, it is arguable that Gladys and Lorna are joint female leads. They represent different social groups as well as different age groups. Gladys is very posh, very monied, and very young, particularly in the sense that she is not interested in responsibility except insofar as it interests her. Lorna is very down to earth, works her guts out for pay, and is very married, very mum, very invested in The Right Thing, even when The Wrong Thing is up close and wild and tender and so easily hers.
Put simply, they are opposites in every way except the way where they are both courageous women, both good women, both women who are making their mark on the world every day that they get out of bed. And I think the reason this scene feels so pivotal in terms of the show is because it was so pivotal in terms of their relationship. Lorna has been, shall we say, less than supportive of Gladys. She has been, however quietly, less than respectful of her. She freaking set her up to take the fall for her accidental pregnancy because she sees her as the only woman working at the plant who doesn’t matter – because girls like Gladys Witham need nothing because they get everything – because girls like her Sheila deserve a chance to make something of themselves.
She has been so angry with Gladys. She has been so angry with Gladys for mattering so much to her precious, still-alive son. She has been so angry with Gladys for leading him astray, as she sees it. And then, suddenly, on that rooftop, she was a little bit awed. Because Gladys made things better. Gladys helped bring her baby down from the edge of oblivion.
And in this moment, Gladys is everything that Lorna can’t quite help disdaining. She is the poor little rich girl making eggs with her brand new cooker like it’s a day in the country. She is living out of home like it’s a holiday.
But then, suddenly, she’s human. Suddenly she’s faced with her own oblivion.
Lorna reads the telegram. The news she’s always dreaded hearing about Gene – the news she will dread until the war is over or until it has come – that comes for Gladys. And suddenly she’s so weak she’s honest. She doesn’t know how to handle eggs. She is a poor little rich girl. Whisks and stoves confuse her. It is what it is and it will never be anything else.
Whisks and stoves confuse her and James is dead because she didn’t love him enough.
That’s what she feels. That’s why she wants to conquer the omelette. Because if she conquers the omelette maybe she didn’t break someone’s heart – maybe she didn’t break the heart of someone she loves – maybe he didn’t hang the phone up, heavy-hearted, lost to her, and walk straight into fear, agony, death, endedness, never coming back.
But she can’t fight it – the paralysis – the incompetence. And as soon as she has asked Lorna, stiffly, like you reprimand a naughty child, to help her do this, she is unable.
A couple of miserable whisks. And then she and Lorna are women. They are the same. There nothing more in the world than the feeling of Lorna’s arms around Gladys’ crippled body. There is nothing more in the world than the fact that Lorna’s worst fear has just come true for Gladys before she even had time to really be afraid of it.
Meg Tilly is perfect, as always. but for me this is the moment Jodi just basically punches you in the face with her talent. I mean, look at her face. She is lost. She is far away. And she is never coming back quite the same.
5. …because it’s not obvious
Rin says: Remember how during Skins 5 we were in love with everyone with everyone and it was basically a free for all? Like an OTP royal rumble? That’s kind of how Bomb Girls feels, in the sense that everyone is cute with everyone and there should be more of it all the time? Except the real surprise comes when they look like they’re heading in a certain direction and then suddenly they take a sharp right and you’re left wanting things you thought you didn’t want at all. And I think that’s kind of awesome and more in tune with the realities of life. The unexpected can happen at any moment, and that’s the feeling I get when I watch Bomb Girls.
When we start out with Lorna and Bob, you can see the wear and tear their years of marriage have had on them, as well as the effects of Bob’s time in the war. There isn’t a whole lot of happiness going on in their lives, and they are still together for the sake of it… and I think that’s maybe true for a whole lot of relationships. It’s easy, it’s the ‘right thing to do’, it’s safe. And even though Lorna can be the most trying of characters at times, I also love her very much and want the best for her. When Marco came along I wasn’t exactly pleased and I didn’t think it was doing much good for anyone, but it was also forcing Lorna to come to terms with her own life and find out what she wants from it. And ironically enough, it leads her back to Bob and they both end up in a much better place than where they started. I find it super interesting and engaging, and I love it when TV challenges your own morals and values.
The way they handle their friendships is also similar to their relationships, in that none of them are all gravy and perfect and they all have their differences. I don’t think I’ll ever get over the cuteness that is Betts/Princess — and I think I’ll always love Gladys for never once batting an eyelid over Betty’s love for Kate. In fact she totally kind of shipped it. It’s also interesting that they can make me like someone called Theresa (after everything The OC put me through), who was invading my OTP and I never once really cared? In fact I actually kind of enjoyed it? Whenever that happens I know a show is good because it’s not easy to convince someone like me that anything other than my OTPs is good for me.
So thank you Bomb Girls for never taking the easy route, and not just straight up giving me what I want.
Sophy says: Give them what they need not what they want. THAT’S WHAT JOSS WHEDON ALWAYS SAYS.
So it must be right. Even when Tara dies.
Several times whilst watching this show I’ve found myself sitting back and thinking ‘Well played, Bomb Girls,’ because they took a turn I did not expect and without it seeming random. This is more unusual than it should be in TV. With many of the shows I watch I can see things coming a mile off or I’m sitting there rolling my eyes because I can tell all they wanted to do was surprise me, whether it made sense or not.
I think it’s easier to do this kind of thing where you world-build properly: that is to say, all of your characters are developed and entertaining and they all have something of a relationship. I mean, obviously Betty and Kate are the be all and end all for each other from day 1. And then there’s a particularly engaging relationship between Betty and Gladys. But all along the way the show is careful to pair up characters you wouldn’t necessarily expect to see together: Gladys and Kate, Lorna and Vera, Betty and Lorna, Vera and Carol, Gladys and Marco, Kate and Vera… This means that when a plot-line comes up that would suit two characters the show is able to just throw them together, without trying to create a relationship to build up to it or not bothering to create a relationship and having it feel contrived.
They’re also excellent at introducing possible romances without following through on them. And what I mean by that is that they’ll throw two characters together and it won’t necessarily be what you assume it’s going to be – and you don’t feel dissatisfied, you actually feel refreshed. And then you think: Hey maybe these two will be the next Vera and Marco.
Remember how season one centered, in part, around an illicit romance between Marco and Lorna? Remember how somewhere along the line in season two Marco became all about Vera? Okay, now cast your mind back to that time Marco accidentally visited Vera in her hospital room and brought her the Cannoli meant for Archie. Remember how Vera felt ugly and finished and like she was lost to the future she always imagined she’d have, the kind of future she might have had with this handsome man she flirted with on the factory floor right before everything changed. His face was banged up then. Hers soon would be. And she smiled sweetly, teeth pressed to her lips around it as he walked away. Remember that? Now remember what Marco said to her in the hospital a propos of nothing but the pain she was in.
“Vera, there’s first impressions, and then there’s the ones you make after that.”
Story of their darling, difficult relationship.
Then there’s things like how this one time Gene showed up and you were sure he would sent Gladys’s whole life off a cliff, but the reality was that she saved him from throwing himself off a building and then he was on his way. Gene himself seemed at first like the Golden Boy and then like a tearaway the war hadn’t even been able to man up and then we found the truth was somewhere in between and so desperately sad. Leon was a lifeline for Kate but he wasn’t a lover – even though, as Rin points out, he so easily could be. And he wound up meaning as much to Betty, for whom he could have been a rival, as he did to Kate. James seemed like he’d be The Stuffy Fiance, then he seemed like he’d just be the pretentious cad, and he turned out to be both of those things, sort of, and also a soldier for Glady, because of Gladys, also a figure of absolute heartbreak. Gladys’s parents are bad and good. Carol has a tender smallness under her mean girl facade. Marco is not his father, but he isn’t not his father. Lorna is a good woman and a bad woman, a fallen woman and a woman rising high above.
And weren’t you just sure that Reggie would be Betty’s love interest? Weren’t you just certain that Edith/Bob would happen just to legitimize Lorna/Marco? Weren’t you just, more than anything, absolutely floored by the fact that Lorna and Bob turned out to have the kind of relationship you could root for, when it seemed for all the world like they would be too complicated to ever be comfortable, too simply founded to ever find themselves in something like love.
This is the thing, though. Love is complicated on Bomb Girls. There are no easy answers. Nobody is perfect and nothing is set in stone.
This is the real world. This is the world we live in.
4. …because Betty/Kate
Rin says: Sigh.
This is where I retract my earlier statement about thanking Bomb Girls for never giving me what I want.
BECAUSE THEY HAVE TO COME BACK AND GIVE ME BETTY/KATE. They just have to. You bastards, why why why, etc.
Betty/Kate hurts. It hurts in the way where you don’t really know whether or not it will ever come to pass because Kate is pretty sure she doesn’t love Betty the way Betty loves her. And yet? There are moments when you think she certainly could. I don’t think Kate’s gay, I really don’t, but I also feel like when it comes to Betty her sexuality isn’t exactly the be all and end all. There is no doubt that Kate treats and regards Betty as the person most special to her, that she loves her and wants her to be happy. And I think it’s entirely plausible that all of those feelings can lead to something more, nothing is set in stone. Especially when Kate is still in the process of building her new life and finding out who she is, after basically being abused her entire life it’s no wonder she reacted and shut off the way she did when Betty revealed her true feelings.
And okay, unrequited love is like food for my soul.
And okay, they gave me so many Faberry feelings throughout both seasons that I honestly had visions of them being what Faberry might develop into had the show continued to explore it. Quinn is Betty, Rachel is Kate. Although they both have a little bit of each other in them. Um, that sounded wrong.
I’m at peace with it.
THE POINT IS.
Betty and Kate are wonderfully heartbreaking and deserve a real chance at having their journey play out.
SOME THINGS JUST NEED TO PLAY OUT.
Oh and both Ali and Charlotte are amazing and have great chemistry and full props.
Sophy says: The thing about these two is that like Rin they do remind me of Faberry, very much, in terms of the themes involved in their relationship and in terms of the eternal unrequitedness of it all. I’m fine with the unrequitedness. I’m just not fine with the spark ever being stamped out.
Whilst it is by no means the only reason to watch Bomb Girls, Betty and Kate’s relationship is definitely one of the best reasons. I knew, somewhere around oh say the end of episode one season one that Rin would fall in love with these two. But I held off on pushing her to watch the show until I’d seen the season two finale. You know why? I didn’t want her little heart to get broken all over again. I was scared that somewhere along the way Betty’s relationship with Theresa would become more important than her relationship with Kate, that Ivan and Kate might last, and that by the time they’d got to the finale the show wouldn’t be interested in what Kate and Betty felt for each other.
I know I should have trusted the integrity of the narrative, but it’s hard when TV keeps burning me left, right and centre. But still, I had no cause for concern. As soon as I’d seen the two of them curled up on the bed that they had lain on together so many times throughout their prickly-soft relationship, I knew everything would be okay. Because the writers cared. Because they knew Betty and Kate were going to care about each other, no matter what.
When Kate got the note from Betty echoing her line from the pilot, “You’re safe here now”? I just about passed out.
Look, here’s the thing. Season 2 was rocky for Kate and Betty. In the season one finale Kate called Betty disgusting. Worse, she called what Betty felt for her disgusting. Imagine hearing that from somebody you’d give all of yourself for?
Your love is disgusting.
And then Kate left, ran back to be brainwashed and abused and all seemed lost. All seemed even more lost, frankly, when her dad wound up dead. Because sure, maybe two people can bond over not-really-killing a man. But a secret like that also drives a wedge. You want to get away from the truth, right? So maybe sometimes it feels like you want to get away from each other. Kate kept trying to run away even when she was staying put. She lost her voice and got engaged to a man who didn’t know her – Betty’s man, no less, and let’s all take a moment to marvel at the Faberry of that. And Betty? Maybe Betty finally found herself. The scene in Leon’s church was cathartic for Betty. The scene where she told Theresa she was just trying to live her life was cathartic for Betty. The scene where Lorna called stuck up for her battered, gay as a window self in front of everybody in the plant was cathartic for Betty. The sex? The sex was super cathartic, and I am so glad she got to have it, because too often TV shows make the lesbian character spend all her time pining politely, and everyone deserves some happy, naked touching, okay?
But more than anything, what was cathartic for Betty as Kate’s acceptance of her love. And it went beyond that. It went far, far beyond. Suddenly the floodgates opened, as though the truth about Kate coming out made her able to tell so much more of the truth herself.
Lying on that bed she told Betty that it mattered to her that she was loved by her. But she also told her just how much she loves her back. She spoke of Betty in terms of a future. She spoke of Betty in terms of feeling alive. She spoke of Betty in terms of a home.
And Charlotte’s delivery on that final line is just incredible. Honestly, I got chills at the small, shy, little-girl way she said “I found a friend, Betty, a real friend…” Then there was that pause, that shaken inhalation, before she finally looked Betty in the eye and said out loud: who loved me. She shuddered with it, you guys. With the exhilaration of it. With the terror of it. With the knowledge that whatever her loins may or may be interested in – because honestly, Kate has had the kind of childhood that often means you simply don’t know until you’ve tried a few things – but whatever sexual incompatibility may be there, what is between her and Betty is real and undeniable and it is for keeps.
Let’s remember the first time Kate sang on stage. In the beginning she was nervous. She looked Betty’s way. At the end she felt herself swelling with confidence. She looked Betty’s way too. And she sang…
I looked for every loveliness it all came true
I wished on the moon for you
Oh the ways she meant it. Kate wouldn’t have a life without Betty. And she knows it. She gets it. She embraces it.
BY THE WAY, SOMETIMES THEY SHOWER TOGETHER AND DANCE TOGETHER AND SLEEP TOGETHER, I’M JUST SAYING. SAME SHOWER/DANCE FLOOR/BED SAME BED.
Rin says: This is all scientifically correct.
3. …because it’s rich in history and educational and stuff
Rin says: It’s hard to really find caps that explain what we mean, because it’s not exactly tangible.
From what I can recall, I don’t think I’ve ever watched a Canadian show, let alone one that was set in Canada and it seems like a crime now that I think about it. I’ll admit that I know very little about Canada except that my loves Tegan and Sara are from there, people say ‘about’ funny, everyone is super nice and eats maple syrup everyday whilst playing ice hockey. Oh, I’m sorry did I offend anyone? Please, I know you think that my main method of transportation is by Kangaroo. So one of my favourite things is that we get some insight into Canada during WWII, and what life was like during that time. I know that Canada often gets roped into basically being Americans, and I know that Canadians get annoyed by that because they’re definitely a country in their own right. THERE SHOULD BE NO SHADOWING. So it’s pretty cool that the show is created by Candians, in Canada with mostly Candian actors. I’m not entirely sure what the Tv industry is like over there, but I know that if Australia ever released a production of this quality I would be beaming with pride. It’s pretty rare that we produce any decent TV dramas, heck we still celebrate whenever we see Australian actors doing well on other TV shows.
I like that the backdrop of WWII is incorporated into the stories, and that real life events are acknowledged and portrayed without bias. I like that they never sugar coated the prejudices of the time, particularly towards Italians — which if I’m completely honest wasn’t even aware of before I watched the show. It’s very balanced in that way because we get both the good and the bad, and they’re not afraid to go the distance.
Also lol, asthma cigarettes.
Sophy says: Sometimes Rophy are geeks. Okay, always Rophy are geeks. But sometimes we’re smart geeks – you know the kind who like information and whatnot?
I learned so much from Bomb Girls. This is partly because I have little to no knowledge of Canada, both generally and in terms of its involvement in the second world war. I know this is sort of appalling, but despite having studied WWII in high school history and at university I always seem to kind of… forget… about… Canada. I think it’s a function of how much emphasis is placed on Britain as Australia’s ally, and the US being separate from that until Pearl Harbor, so when the show started I found it strange to see all these people who (to me) sound more or less American, defining themselves in terms of difference from America when it comes to their involvement in the war. Please don’t come at me with pitchforks, Canadians. I know Canada isn’t America-lite. It’s just that over here in Australia at least, Canada gets so little representation in the media that whilst you kind of know things intellectually, it’s still strange to become acquainted with them in a serialized drama.
And you know what, I think that’s part of the reason Bomb Girls isn’t a worldwide sensation. It’s Canadian. If this show was American it would be stealing Downton Abbey’s Emmy thunder. And there again, if it were even British, it might be more readily received, given that Britain is kind of known for churning out the classy period dramas. But maybe the fact that it’s Canadian isn’t so much the problem as that it hasn’t been adequately promoted outside of Canada. I mean, as far as I know it didn’t even air in Australia. If it did I didn’t know about it, and I always know about period dramas, especially those structured around the second world war, because that stuff is my mum’s crack and we can watch them together. I know a lot of people in Australia who would love this show if they’d just had a chance to watch it, and sure, I can make them buy the DVDs now, and I will, but it’s kind of too little too late, isn’t it?
The point of this rant: Bomb Girls is marvelously Canadian, but it should be marketed globally if it’s to make the kind of bang it deserves to make.
But enough of that. What did I learn from Bomb Girls? I learned that Canadian people quote Winston Churchill in times of trouble. Or at least they did during the war. I learned that sometimes cigarettes are good for you??? Yes??? All right??? I learned that if you’re pregnant you need to get hold of a frog, stat. I learned that racial segregation wasn’t a thing in Canada like it was in America because Canadians are awesome. I learned that women made bombs. I always knew there were plants they worked at, but I didn’t realize they actually made the bomb part of the bombs or how dangerous that could be. I learned that one of the treatments for neurological damage in soldiers was an induced coma (seriously, Gene should have six of those, immediately.) I learned how to fly a kite? I learned that I never want to give blood in the 40’s.
2. …because there are so many stories to be told
Rin says: Bomb Girls did everything right in the lead up to the season 2 finale by opening a number of doors in the way that you’re supposed to when ending a season. You wrap some things up and then say, OHH BUT NOW LOOK OVER HERE! MORE THINGS TO EXPLORE!!
And I want to explore those things. I need to know what happens to everyone that I love, and even those that I only like in a friend way. There are so many stories left to be told, and the war is NOT over.
What happens to Betty?? AND HER DREAM HOUSE? DOES KATE BECOME HER ‘ROOMMATE’??
Do Lorna and Bob make it? Does Bob start walking??
DO NED AND SHEILA START RUNNING THE HOSPITAL AS A POWERHOUSE COUPLE?
Does Gladys ever go to the farm and meet Annie Walker and start saving the world together???
Does Kate ever tell Betty that she doesn’t know what it means when her heart flutters when she’s in the room but she’s willing to find out???
These are questions that I have.
It’s interesting because I feel like we’ve had a lifetime with these characters, and yet we’re only just beginning. It’s not like this show has run out of things to say, far from it. I could easily see this show having at least another few very strong seasons in them, and I would be very interested to see what would happen once the war was over. What life would then look like for each of them and how it changes the dynamics of the characters. I think that’d be really interesting to see…but I may be getting ahead of myself. Just one more year? Please? OKAY FINE, 5 MORE YEARS YOU TWISTED MY ARM.
Sophy says: This show should get at least 5 more years. It’s cancellation is frustrating for the same reasons the cancellation of Upstairs Downstairs was frustrating. I mean, yes, first and foremost I’m sad because I don’t get to see more of two excellent shows that did more than just entertain me – that warmed me, bodily, like booze on a cold night. But the fact that they are both structured around the second world war makes it that much worse. Because there’s a framework, you see. There’s the potential for such a large and important story to be told, and it’s never really going to be told the way it should be unless the writers are given time to write us all the way up to 1945 and beyond. Don’t get me wrong, I’d take one more season. But there’s no doubt the show deserves 5.
Things I want to see: what happens with Sheila and Dr Patel. Will the arranged marriage go ahead as planned? Will there be a bittersweet parting? Or will they tear up the social fabric of his world just as they have hers? Who is Reggie, where is she from and what does she want and who is she going to be? More Leon, please. More Carol. More of the milkman, seriously. Vera and Marco have only just gotten started! Will Bob walk again? Will Lorna be by his side? Will Gene make it through the war? Will Theresa be back? Will Gladys try her hand at those covert affairs? Will she decide that friendship matters more to her? WHAT THE HELL IS GOING TO HAPPEN TO BETTY? AND SHE AND KATE ARE DEFINITELY GOING TO KISS AT SOME POINT I MEAN COME ON IT DOESN’T HAVE TO MEAN ANYTHING JUST ONCE, RIGHT? RIGHT? I’m just asking.
Rin says: I love that you say it doesn’t have to mean anything, and when it happens (that other time doesn’t really count) there will be PARAGRAPHS AND PARAGRAPHS of how much it meant. You know there would be. We’d build locker shrines.
Sophy says: SHHHH I WAS TRYING TO BE CASUAL ABOUT IT. (I am aware that I failed.)
1. …because it’s about women who are big damn heroes
Rin says: And they’re not even trying to be heroes, they’re just trying to live their life.
I think Betty saying that is perfect for her situation and where her courage stems from, but it’s also perfect for each and every one of our girls. They all stray in some ways, but when they really get tested is when they show that they’re big damn heroes. They do what is right. What I love most about that is that these really are just ordinary woman trying to find what the best versions of themselves may be, and that in itself is heroic. And I adore that in a show set during war time, it’s these women who are getting the chance to prove their heroism.
Each of the characters are written so strongly and have already come so far in their journeys that it would be a real shame if we never saw them again. It’s also pretty great seeing these women fight for equality and respect when they certainly aren’t given much. And they’re all so brave! LIKE EMILY FITCH BRAVE. There are many many times where I felt like slow clapping, including that time Lorna started slow clapping for Betty and everyone else joined in. That was a moment.
Sophy says: Okay, here’s the thing. You know how a lot of the time when you watch a new show you’re looking out for who’s going to be your fave, and sometimes you zero in pretty quickly on that girl who is strong and sincere and complicated and kind of a hero whether she likes it or not? You play ‘Find the Buffy’ basically.
Well Bomb Girls is full of Buffys. All five female leads are fierce, in their own way, even shy Kate – especially shy Kate. To move on, to move forward, to move through, to do whatever it takes no matter what has happened to you, you have to be a hell of a survivor. And hey, I would probably have a complete melt-down if someone wanted be to pose in a swimsuit for my freedom, and I’m not living in the 40’s in a culture that demonizes sexualized females, I just have lumps I don’t like. Leon calls Kate “Church mouse” and I like it because it’s adorable and she is timid socially. But then at the same time this is a girl who refuses to just run. This is a girl who insists on living, wherever possible. This is a traumatized wallflower who’ll get up and put on a burlesque show in front of her friends, her boyfriend and the lesbian who loves her. This is a girl who is, ultimately, bold enough to love the lesbian back, to trust her to accept what she is able to give, even when her trust with the world has been nothing but broken her whole life long. Kate is amazing. The idea that she has haters devastates me.
Now let’s talk about Betty, who is a hero and just wants to live her life. Betty, you goose, don’t you see that you are incapable of living your life without being a hero? It’s just who you are, okay? Go with it. But really, regardless of gender, isn’t Betty everybody’s dreamboat? More than anybody else on the show she is invested in what is right and decent, and more than anybody else on the show she is in the selfless kind of love. Let me just qualify that by saying that love should never, ever be wholly selfless, and that where it is it is not love at all but obsession that will end in despair for all involved. This is why it is so important that Betty has the self-esteem to live a life outside of Kate – to have friends and ambitions and yes, a lover, even if she’s not quite the one she loves. But even so, she is so devoted to Kate, in ways that would make a grown man swoon. Kate wants pickles? Betty will go get her pickles. And she won’t whinge if she gets beaten up by an escaped Nazi about it. Kate likes having a life? Betty will go surrender her own to make sure she keeps it. This is chivalry. This is a full-scale heart. Betty saved Kate, not because she loved her, but because of the quality of that love – because of the quality of the woman she is. And yes, sometimes she can get a little cranky when she thinks newbies are slacking off at work. But that’s because she owns everybody’s ass on that factory floor and she knows it and she has no shame about it. Sure, she resorts to fisticuffs when she and her ladyfriend are insulted by mindless goons… but really, isn’t that what we all want? To be brave enough not to be practical – to love wildly and just exactly the person we choose, whether the whole world would say it’s a lost cause or not – to live for our own dreams, no matter how strange they would seem to others, no matter who is going to call us a “deviant freak”. That’s the kind of journey Betty is on and at its end there is a house and her name is on the deed. I want to see this. I need to see this. Betty/House forever.
Vera. Vera is… well, see I wanted to say Vera is my favourite, but every time I pick a favourite Bomb Girl I start thinking of all the ways the other four deserve the privilege too. Still, somehow Vera just feels like she belongs to me. And you know why I think that is? It’s because we got to watch her become the person she is now. There are certainly ways in which the same can be said for Kate and Gladys and Betty and even Lorna, but more than any of them Vera’s arc in the first season was one of growth. And when she finally walked up to that factory with her awful grey wig on, ready to start living because she had what Archie couldn’t hold onto – strength, the ability to fight, a heart and a mind and the rest of her life to find out what they add up to… when she walked up to that factory and lit her cigarette, told Gladys with a sly kind of calm that she liked her hair once? I was in love. I mean, I honestly felt like I’d met someone, gotten to know them, learned all of their secrets, seen them at their worst and their best and realized I was crazy in love with them and needed to shop for a ring. This is the thing about Vera. She’s so damn wise. Her awful, awful experience in the pilot episode didn’t just make her tougher, it made her a whole lot more sure – of herself – her worth – her place in the world – what she wants and how to get it. When she has a panic attack on the factory floor, she doesn’t despair. She doesn’t give up and go home. She all cats are greys her boss into making her a secretary. And sure, when Carol is cruel to her about her scar, she wants to run away. But in the end, she doesn’t. In the end she finds a way through. Vera is not an unkind woman. She is not petty or mean. But she is crafty and I love that about her, just as I love that is still able to be vulnerable when it comes to matters of the heart.
Gladys Witham. In my cursory glance at the Bomb Girls fandom I’ve seen it said more times than I’d like that S2 wasn’t as good as S1 (disagree), because it focused too heavily on Gladys (DISAGREE). I think S2 was excellent and I think Gladys is excellent. It is tough to write a poor little rich girl as feisty and capable and also keep her likable and for me the show achieved that. Gladys is the type of girl a lot of viewers will hate because she’s not just beautiful, but wealthy and smart and well-liked and chosen whenever there is a choice to be made. But they made a wise decision with Gladys. They decided to make her unapologetic. Yes, she is the girl who has it all. No, she is not going to cry about it. The show strikes a phenomenally fine balance with this character, in that she is always so keen to fit in and get along, but at the same time has a willful streak and isn’t afraid to prioritize her own needs – heck, her own desires. It wasn’t exactly nice of her to fool around all over the place with Gene Corbett. It was selfish not to care that Kate had been trying to make him notice her all night. It was selfish of her not to care that this boy’s mother was her boss, that she was distraught at the state he was in and the bad choices he could make, the reputation he was busy garnering for himself. And it was selfish of her to push her fiance out of her mind – her fiance who’d joined up for her – to be the kind of man she could love best – for the rest of her life. But that’s the thing, Gladys is selfish – sometimes. Other times she’d give you the shirt off her back – or, you know, the silk stockings off her pretty legs. Yes, there was that time she let Betty down terribly because she wouldn’t abandon her party to save Kate. But you know what? Her party was a big damn deal. Her party was helping to save soldiers just as much as every day spent at that bomb factory. And I sort of love that Gladys was strong enough and real enough to aim at the greater good and not hate herself about it in the morning. And I think she paid them back in the best way she knew how in the S2 finale – by putting a hunk of her trust fund on the line – by taking what her father had given her to prove herself and betting it on her friends. Because she believes in them. Gladys is the kind of girl who’ll lie to you if she needs to. She’s the kind of girl who might take something she wants even if you want it too. But she’s also the kind of girl who’ll put a suggestion box in the ladies’ showers because she thinks everybody deserves to be heard. She’s the kind of girl who’ll give her friends Valentines, and she’s the kind of girl who’ll try to do the right thing when it counts.
LORNA. Okay, so, Lorna is possibly the prickliest and least easy to love of all of these women, and yet she’s the one you feel most satisfied at having loved? Like, you need two cigarettes after, instead of just the usual one? Okay? Okay. Lorna starts out as this stiff, somewhat matronly, less-than-a-good-time girl, who basically has it in for anyone who’s looking shifty and does awful things like planting a newspaper in a man’s locker to get him arrested. Then she has the nerve to have sex with that man behind her crippled husband’s back, get herself pregnant, spread rumours that the baby is Gladys’s –
Okay, wow. I have to interrupt myself there. Lorna’s baby is Gladys’s? I don’t think that’s possible, even with a turkey baster.
I’m back. So Lorna covers her own tracks and then some by risking pretty much the entirety of Gladys’s reputation. Then she decides to abort the baby, even though her stomach is way fuller than I am comfortable with for that kind of thing, and she doesn’t give a crap about whether Marco wants to adopt it and okay, maybe that part is sort of awesome. But overall? Lorna spends the first half of the show doing some pretty crummy stuff, generally being an asshole to her husband and, let’s face it, kind of a racist, and privileging her son over her daughter the way so many women did and still do. So why is it that when she walks up onto that podium on the eleventh of the eleventh and gives her speech about sacrifices and how Bob doesn’t understand but he’s here, you just want to take her to your bosom and never let her leave? It has a lot to do with Meg Tilly, sure, but I think it also has a lot to do with the way Lorna tries. She tries so damn hard, you know, with everything in her life – and she never stops. And I think it also has a lot to do with the fact that she does things like stand up for Betty in front of everyone – help Gladys make eggs – take Reggie into her home – write letters for Edith’s kids – serve Bob spaghetti from a tin – and, my personal favourite of all time, stand tall in front of that doctor in the hospital when Vera was brought in and tell him that Vera is a soldier and he is to do the best he can by her. That right there is an act of heroism. It’s an act of solidarity. It’s an act of love. And it says more about who Lorna Corbett is than any of her many mistakes.
So, in conclusion. This is a show about five women you will love the way you loved Buffy Summers. That’s all you need to know, right? Go forth. Get the DVD’s. Donate to the cause. And most importantly, force the show on everyone you know and love.