Same War. Different Battles. This is the tagline for Bomb Girls, a creation of Michael MacLennan (Queer as Folk, FlashPoint) and Adrienne Mitchell, a TV show about women living in Canada during World War II, who just want to do their part in the war.
This historically accurate show presents a cast of strong women, each with their own different ways of life and personalities, who just happen to have one thing in common – they all want to help the war effort, in every way that they can. So for a living, they make bombs in a factory known as Victory Munitions. We are introduced to Lorna Corbett (Meg Tilly), shift matron and mother figure to most of the girls working under her steady hand; Gladys Witham (Jodi Balfour), a wealthy daddy’s girl who decides to give up her life of luxury for a life of meaning, and what better meaning than making bombs to help all the soldiers overseas (one of which is her fiancé, James)?;
Kate Andrews (Charlotte Hegele), a young woman who came into town recently with a shocking secret up her sleeve and a past she’s trying to hide from; Betty McRae (Ali Liebert), the most hard-working woman at the factory, who has a few secrets of her own; Vera Burr (Anastasia Phillips), a vain factory worker who gets tragically mutilated on the factory line, but still manages to keep her head held high and her confidence even higher. Also amongst the workers is Marco Moretti (Antonio Cupo), an Italian-born man who has lived in Canada since he was a little boy, but finds himself challenged every day by his co-workers who think that he would rather betray them to Mussolini.
The episodes go through a multitude of very real issues that existed during the war time, including war-time fatigue, betraying one’s country, suppressing homosexuality in a world where you will most definitely be shunned for it, war-time loneliness, the worry that your loved ones may never return from the battle front, the shock of D-Day and Pearl Harbour, and many more issues that will bring you to love these characters and laugh and cry along with them as they experience their life in a way we most certainly cannot imagine.
The series in itself is incredibly historically accurate – the dates are all spot-on, and the reactions to receiving the news of events are incredibly believable. In the season 2 episode ‘Party Line’, we are given a taste of what it must feel like knowing your children were on the front-lines when D-Day occurred, and the suspense of finding out if they survived or not. We are also shown the fear of concealing your heritage from even your closest friends in fear that you will be ostracized – in the season 2 episode ‘Guests of Honour’, we find out that one of our beloved factory workers is of German descent, and speaks the language fluently, which could cause problems if that becomes public knowledge. Another issue we are shown is the after-effects of the Great War on the generation who remember it – Lorna’s husband, Bob, is a veteran who has lost the use of his legs in trench warfare.
Even the sets are incredibly stunning – the factory, the boarding house where most of the girls live, the night club ‘The Jewel Box’, the extravagant homes of those who could afford it – down to a T with the car models of the time that some of the characters sometimes drive around, though we never see this very often as women tended not to drive in that day and age.
Bomb Girls, is, overall, a TV show that should be watched by all. It gives us a taste of what life in the war-ridden forties was all about, and also gives us strong, independent female characters, which TV nowadays is sometimes lacking. The women themselves are treated as soldiers, not as simply women who stay at home and wait for their husbands to come home. The women are expected, in fact, to do just as much work as the men do, and honestly it’s a relief to break apart the stereotypical weak-willed woman who does nothing but whine and show bus the true nature of a person desperate to help their country in any way.
Made up of 18 episodes in total, Bomb Girls has two seasons, and the series finale aired in early 2013. However, this shouldn’t dither you, as it is worth the watch, even if it is for a short amount of time.