‘Mad Men,’ ‘Good Girls,’ and the Fight for Workplace Equality

Good Girls Revolt, based on a book by Lynn Povich, is now available on Amazon. The story is set in 1969, when a group of women working at the magazine News of the World, where only males got bylines, fought for equality in the workplace. The cast includes Anna Camp as a young researcher and Jim Belushi as a chauvinistic boss.

Povich’s 2012 book bears the subhead How the Women of Newsweek Sued Their Bosses and Changed the Workplace; she was one of the 46 women involved in the lawsuit. (The late Nora Ephron too was at Newsweek at the time and is a character in the series.) Povich was initially apprehensive about having the story adapted for television, say the producers, but came around eventually thanks in part to the seasoned journalists working on the show. Executive producer Dana Calvo was a Los Angeles Times reporter, while fellow exec producer Lynda Obst has authored several books.

Obst says people had pursued the rights to the book for years, to no avail. “Lynn didn’t want to invade the privacy of the people she’d been involved in the lawsuit with and didn’t understand how you could fictionalize it without exploiting it,” says Obst. “So she turned everyone down.”

Obst used her journalistic connections—she says she shares several mutual friends with Povich—to convince the author of her intentions.

“I'm thrilled that our story is getting a wider audience with a stellar team of producers, writers and actors,” said Povich on her website.

A co-production with TriStar Television, Good Girls Revolt is written by Calvo, directed by Liza Johnson, and executive produced by Calvo, Obst, Darlene Hunt, Don Kurt and Jeff Okin.

Hunt is the showrunner; her involvement too is the product of a mutual friendship, as she and Calvo had a common colleague who insisted it would turn out to be a “good marriage.” Hunt, who created The Big C for Showtime, says the Good Girls Revolt team rallied around the mission just as the Newsweek team did those decades before. “One of my favorite things about the process was living the experience of women coming together to do something,” says Hunt. “We worked really well together and had a lot of fun.”

All 10 hour-long episodes are available for Prime members. Many see the series as the flipside of Mad Men; as the late ‘60s men were mucking about in the workplace, the women were painstakingly pushing for equality. With newsrooms suddenly in vogue in Hollywood—the film Spotlight, for one, is the reigning Best Picture winner—Good Girls Revolt is also a fun look at how the news is produced or at least was produced in the late '60s.  

“It was so important to Lynn,” notes Obst, “to get the journalism right.”

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.