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Janna is a staff writer for The Hudsucker. Born and raised in a small Ontario town, she made her move to Toronto for university and immediately fell in love with the excitement and pace of the big city. She holds an Honors Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film Production from York University, specializing in editing and screenwriting. She currently works as an assistant editor for a television production company. Janna loves stories told in all mediums, especially film, and takes herself to the movies as much as she possibly can. She can generally be found taking a Zumba class, exploring some of Toronto’s lesser-known gems, or relaxing with her fluffy feline roommate.

The Best Show You’re Not Watching: “Bomb Girls”

When World War II is depicted in the media, we normally hear stories of concentration camps or see images of soldiers fighting overseas in Europe. It’s less common to see war stories told of those left behind as those brave men went off to war – stories of the women who, for the first time in many of their lives, had to stand on their own two feet. This was the reality for many women during the war, and it’s upon this reality that the Canadian network drama Bomb Girls is based.

Bomb Girls follows the lives of several women who work in a munitions factory in Toronto, Canada, during the Second World War. With many of Canada’s men off to fight Nazis, these women have taken up the call to help the war effort by building bombs to be sent overseas. Set in the early 1940s, we get to experience the war through these women’s eyes as they deal with loss, love, and learning to value themselves in a society not quite ready to see them out of the kitchens.

Credit: thegate.ca

The show presents a talented main cast and focuses on the lives of five very different women who work at Victory Munitions. The show opens with Gladys Witham (Jodi Balfour), a rich girl wanting to make a difference by coming to work at the munitions plant where Lorna Corbett (Meg Tilly) works as the shift matron. Other leads are Betty McRae (Ali Liebert), Kate Andrews (Charlotte Hegele), and Vera Burr (Anastasia Phillips): three girls working at the plant to become independent, discover themselves, and achieve their goals. We also get to meet the men in these women’s lives – factory workers forbidden from enlisting, wounded WWI soldiers, American fiancés – and watch as they support them… or set them back. The range of personalities shown onscreen allows the viewer to find someone to identify with – someone to root for.

Bomb Girls deals with a variety of storylines that are uniquely war-related, ones we’ve seen in dozens of other formats, but framing these stories through the eyes of the women left behind gives the viewer a whole new perspective. We see mothers and wives fearful for the lives of those they love overseas, and then we see them deal with the way these men have changed when they return. We see these women fight to be respected and treated fairly in a workplace unaccustomed to their presence; we see them explore and take control of their sexualities in a world that previously told them they had no say. The viewer gets to watch these wonderful, strong women come into their own in wartime, and it’s one of the most empowering things I’ve seen on television in a long time.

One of my favorite things about this show is the way it’s written. The plots, while dramatic, are never implausible – setting much of the action at the munitions factory ramps up the tension and potential danger in many episodes. But the writers of Bomb Girls should be lauded most for the rich cast of characters they’ve developed for their show. The ladies of Bomb Girls are relatable and worth rooting for; one of the show’s strengths is that it portrays many strong female characters. We don’t just see women who succeed; we see those that struggle, those whose flaws exacerbate their problems. We get to watch them overcome their problems and succeed in spite of their flaws, and that’s something that struck a chord with me right away. These women struggle, learn, and grow with every episode, and it’s an exciting and rewarding thing to watch.

Credit: maureenjennings.com

The show has aesthetic merits along with a strong story and characters. As someone from Toronto, I enjoy getting a glimpse of what life may have been like in my city seventy years ago. I like hearing mentions of streets and towns that are familiar from my own life and I like seeing the fashion and aesthetics of the 1940s. I like the realistic yet beautiful portrait of Toronto in the 1940s that they paint in every episode, and I’m glad that this is the Toronto that all of Canada gets to see every week. It’s a show with both style and substance, and it’s one that I want to share with everyone in my life – especially the women.

I’ve fallen in love with the ladies of Bomb Girls – and I want the rest of the world to fall in love with them, too.

“Bomb Girls” airs at 9:00 pm EST Monday nights on Global TV Canada. Previous episodes can be seen at Global TV. The first season is also available on Amazon.

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