Tuesday, September 11, 2012

'Bomb Girls'

Both the Canadian TV industry and obscure U.S. cable network Reelz Channel would probably love the kind of reputation for quality drama that shows like Mad Men and Boardwalk Empire engender, and Bomb Girls, a Canadian import airing stateside on Reelz, has the air of something prestigious. It's set in Toronto during World War II, and it explores an underrepresented aspect of life during the time period with its focus on women who work in a munitions factory. The period detail is impressive and the cast is strong, but the actual plotting and dialogue fall a little short. Rather than exploring the dark and complex aspects of its time period, in the manner of the better shows it aspires to emulate, Bomb Girls is more like a well-produced history lesson, with lots of expository dialogue and characters that seem designed primarily to illustrate a particular historical aspect of society or culture.

The show's takes on sexism and racism are pretty simplistic, and the way that characters respond to situations is generally pretty predictable, and often heavily shaded in "we're so much more enlightened now" irony. But there are a few subtler aspects to the show's social commentary, including the slow-burning homoerotic tension between two of the female factory workers, as well as the troubled reaction to the war from a World War I veteran played by Peter Outerbridge. It's refreshing to see a show give so much attention to the female perspective on a historical period, and those moments of unexpected points of view, whether from a frustrated and repressed 1940s lesbian or a disabled veteran who doesn't see WWII as the universally regarded "good war," give Bomb Girls a bit more depth. The rest of the show is a little too superficial to be as rewarding as it aims to be.

Premieres tonight at 10 p.m. on Reelz Channel.

No comments: