The 1970s in America. A time of banging guitar riffs, anti-war protests, opulent pool parties and flammable clothing. When the Me Too movement was but a distant dream, and women struggled for recognition in the office as well as at home. Gender pay gap discussions? Forgeddaboutit! Not even on the radar.
Wait, did we mention the polyester?!
One new show is out to address these heedy and complicated times with humour and sass, and it's available in New Zealand on Lightbox.
Set against the glamorous backdrop of Hollywood in 1975 and starring Alicia Silverstone and Mena Suvari, American Woman is inspired by the upbringing of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Kyle Richards, who is a co-executive producer on the show.
Silverstone plays housewife and mother Bonnie Nolan, a character based on Richards' mother. Bonnie's world crumbles around her when she discovers that not only is her husband having an affair, he has also lost most of their money in real estate deals gone wrong.
Ditching her cheating spouse, Bonnie is forced to go it alone. With only $150 in her bank account and having been a housewife her entire adult life, she is faced with having to venture into the workforce to support herself and her two children. What follows is a story of Bonnie's journey to empowerment.
Suvari is at her sassy and seductive best, playing Bonnie's best friend Kathleen.
With classic one liners like "This isn't a democracy; it's a marriage," American Woman very accurately depicts the problems women faced at a time when feminism was a dirty word.
"I just got chills hearing the stories of Kyle's mum," Silverstone told Vanity Fair about her first meeting with the producers. "Bonnie's so relatable and she's brave. She's so determined and independent and full of contradictions - scared and so liberated."
"I can relate and I'm sure that we all can relate to liberating ourselves as women and as people," she added. "Bonnie's doing it at a time when it's pretty unheard of, which is what makes it so exciting. But everyone's doing that now, right? We're all just trying to speak our truths, be ourselves, and break free of the things that we get used to and comfortable being stuck in."
One of the challenges of bringing a period show to life is making sure it's authentic. Lovers of fashion will be inspired by the use of genuine vintage clothing by the likes of 70s superstar designers Pierre Cardin, Holston and Diane Von Furstenberg.
Costume designer Judy Gellman was tasked with hunting down the precious pieces. The search took her far and wide and included private collectors, estate sales, vintage shows, costume hire stores and even eBay. One of her best finds was a Pierre Cardin dress once worn by iconic 60s model Twiggy in an issue of Vogue.
"It's like a treasure hunt in the best way when you're doing a period show!" Gellman told Variety.
We're predicting there will be a rush on vintage stores around the country, with viewers wanting to inject a bit of Bonny glamour into their lives.
The entire season of American Woman is available now exclusively on Lightbox.
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