If you’ve never seen Bomb Girls, please run, don’t walk, to your nearest torrent and get yourself the first season as soon as is humanly possible. If your television interests are as lesbian-thirsty as mine are, then consider this the tower of Gatorade in the middle of the Sahara.
I have a lot of feelings about this show, and most of them have to do with the fact that I want to share it with everyone I meet. I think that historical dramas that offer queer perspectives are really invaluable to our community. We have been struggling and surviving since the dawn of time, and since so many of us were erased from the history books or not allowed to give our accounts, it’s extra important that we still have access to those legacies, even the fictionalized versions. My goal is to get every single one of you to watch this show if you don’t already, and to get you super psyched so I won’t feel like I’m the only one vomiting all these gay feelings every week.
Also there is not nearly enough Bomb Girls fanfiction and you need to fill that void for me.
Here’s your first season refresher.
GLADYS is totes rich and has the face of a hottie and the fur collection of Cruella de Vil. She works at the munitions factory because despite her family’s 1940s equivalent of a toaster strudel fortune, she wants to do what common people do. She is not a lesbian *yet*, but she only seems to hang out with lesbians.
Gladys’ parents are not down with her blue collar period, and this drops a bomb (HAHA) on the family dynamic. Her fiancé is pretty laid back about the whole thing, but also he contracts herpes from a lady who isn’t Gladys. Gladys calls it evensies because she once cheated on him, and they say sorry and decide to peacefully stay together. It’s the most Canadian thing that’s ever happened.
BETTY is flawless dyke swagger in a pantsuit. She likes likes girls and has been keeping it a quiet secret because it is the 1940s. She has never met a pair of trousers she doesn’t like. She is one of the more incredible queer characters to show up in media and I will have fisticuffs with anyone who wants to argue that with me.
She falls pretty darn hopelessly for KATE, whose real name is Marian and who works at the factory after escaping her super religious abusive father. He dragged her sick mom and siblings around so they could sing hymns outdoors while he yelled at people about hellfire. Kate is actually a Disney princess come to life because of her super sweet demeanor, giant dewy eyes, and the fact that she constantly sings.
Betty reveals her feelings to Kate and they FUCKING KISS and Betty says I LOVE YOU but then Kate’s father returns to literally punch Betty in the face and take his daughter back. If you didn’t cry at this, you’re either dead or made from Canadian stone.
The girls are all overseen by LORNA who leads a pretty joyless existence until she started getting to it with the hot young Italian stallion MARCO. You go, Lorna.
Turns out Marco totally gets her pregnant. This would be less of a problem if Lorna wasn’t married to an equally joyless dude who will not take well to raising the little plate of spaghetti.
Now everyone is back for the second season to deal with the hot lesbian mess they left behind, plus the whole war thing. Take it away, my beautiful ladies.
Bam! Season 2 has begun. This episode is called “The Quickening”, maybe for how quickly time has flown by since the end of last season. Kidding! It felt like forever and I wanted to die.
Gladys is doing a photoshoot in her living room because, you know, fancy people. Who even knows why they do the things they do? Good to see she remains completely precious this season. I want her to be gay, but I also see her as that one straight friend we all have who is totally gorgeous and whose boyfriend we have sworn to forever hate.
Vera’s looking all fine, and her scars have healed at a rate that makes me wonder if we are supposed to think a lot of time has passed or that medical technology was a whole lot better in the forties than we have been led to believe. I’m gonna go with the latter, since I believe pretty much anything I see on TV! Remember when the hooks that hook into the bomb things accidentally hooked into her head? You got this, Vera!
Betty gets her dyke swag on and then gives her good luck charm a kiss. If you’re wondering how I looked during this scene, I’ve done an accurate recreation:
Back at the factory, it’s good to see that impending motherhood hasn’t given Lorna a lighter and happier outlook on life. She’s inspecting fingernails like they’re defendants at the Nuremberg Trials. Keep smiling, sunshine!
I’m trying not to make insensitive jokes about the locker room being Betty’s favorite place in the factory, but it’s my favorite place in the factory, so whatever. She and Gladys seem to be tighter than ever, and they dish about how much Gladys misses her soldier boytoy. Betty’s all like “whatever, princess,” because it’s totally normal to give our straight friends semi-flirtatious nicknames, right? I’m not the only one who does that, right?
Lorna says there’s a delegation from China and the U.S. visiting today, so the girls need to be on their best behavior and not pull each other’s hair or make out in the break room.
Lorna pulls Betts aside and tells her that a man has sent a letter to their supervisor accusing her of making advances towards a girl named Marian. Betty’s face while reading the words “deviant freak” is pretty heartbreaking, but she tells Lorna it’s a pile of bologna and nothing to worry about.
The Chinese-American delegation is here, and Betty and Gladys get to show them around. Betty just talks about how fucking dangerous their job is and makes a lot of tough guy faces at the men. I love her so much that it makes my heart hurt. Gladys talks about her fiancé and then accidentally dredges up some stuff about how all the lady factory workers in China were killed by bombs. Awkward.
Suddenly an alarm goes off and everyone needs to evacuate stat. It turns out that there’s an unidentified plane in the “no fly” zone headed straight for the plant and the trains full of explosives. When the two meet, it will be a disaster of epic proportions. It’s pretty much the literal representation of what happens when two of your exes start dating.
Down in the tunnels, everyone is getting cozy. In near death situations, like right around closing time at the lesbian bar, desperate times call for desperate couplings. Gladys continues to reveal the fact that she is doesn’t get out a lot. If she had a tumblr, social justice culture would have smashed her into oblivion by now and made at least a few burn blogs. Luckily, the Chinese-American officer who earlier helped place her foot directly into her mouth continues to be a sassypants.
I’m afraid I don’t know your name.
It’s Kai Lo.
Kai Lo? What does that mean?
I don’t know. What does Witham mean?
I like this guy.
As the situation gets more dire, Ivan the new guy goes for the ol’ awkward arm squeezing with Betty. Funny how much he reminds me of my high school boyfriend.
The coast gets cleared and everyone goes back to normal, or at least the version of normal where handling extremely dangerous explosives is just a thing that you do for an hourly wage. Upstairs in the offices, Vera is getting major shit for her scars because the other secretaries are super bitches. I look forward to the episode when Vera goes apeshit and slaps the dumb outta them. I expect Betty to back her up with that mean gay right hook of hers.
Down at the canteen, Gladys asks Betty if she’s still looking for Kate (who, reminder, is also Marion) at night. Of course she’s still looking for Kate – she doesn’t do anything with her life except build weapons and stalk the dark streets like the little gay Batman she is. But Betty’s already had one confrontation today about her “deviant freak” behavior and knows what’s at stake, so she pulls a Me At Age 16 and decides to give this whole hetero business a try.
In an irony that I hope was entirely intentional on casting’s part, the second most dykey person at the factory asks Betty if she and Ivan are a thing because of how arm-squeezy they were getting down in the tunnels. Gladys says Betty is “not that kind of girl” aka she is too gay to function, but Betty says she calls dibs on Ivan, whatever. She does this through a lot of dykey swaggering and slamming her spoon down to stake her claim. It’s so adorable how hard she’s trying and so adorable how dykey she remains that my heart just about bursts. Gladys believes none of this bullshit but quietly supports Betty no matter what because she just read a zine on how to be a good ally.
Throwaway Character Dykey McDykerston jokes to her friend that she heard Gladys had been “up the stump” and “took a trip down to Chestnut Street,” which apparently is 1940s talk for she had an abortion. Lorna overhears this and logs this stump talk away as she is starting to get a little desperate about the pignolo growing inside of her.
Meanwhile, Gladys is wearing this get-up because she’s really precious that way. I still don’t know how she manages to maintain so many lesbian friends and wear so much fur, as you’d imagine this would interfere with their militant veganism.
Once Betty joins her, it becomes apparent that the costuming department had a surplus of purple felt this season. Somehow this translates to the two of them looking like a crime-solving team or a pair of super siblings. They are such besties now, I love it.
Gladys wants Betty to come to the Jewel Box and help her raise money for the Red Cross, but Betty says she’ll be there anyway because she’s got a date with a man. Gladys’ response: “A holding hands and kissing date?” Because Gladys knows that Betty just wants to touch soft butts and put her lips on another girl’s lips.
Meanwhile at Joyless Junction, Lorna’s daughter Sheila says she might go to medical school. Bob says the only reason she got in is because there aren’t dudes around anymore to take her place. Not only is Bob a dickhole, but he calls Lorna out on the bombolone situation. Any possibility of positivity is officially sucked from this scene as if through a gigantic bendy straw. We could not exit this situation faster.
At the Jewel Box, people are doing the 1940s equivalent of twerking and really getting down hard. Betty and Ivan’s date seems to be going well as they are bonding over hockey and beer. Betty burps and they salute it. I can’t make this shit up. This scene finally reveals a flaw of Betty’s, though, as she turns out to be a Maple Leafs fan. Don’t worry, Betts. We’ll work on that.
As much as I’d typically be averse to anything involving my favorite queer characters and heterosexuality, I actually really like this Ivan guy and kind of hope they become buds once they get over the fact that he is Betty’s thick and tangled beard. They could have bro nights where they watch the game and share a couple of brewskis, and then talk about the girls they dig and be mutually respectful. I’m into it.
Gladys and Betty do more cutesy bestie stuff together, like raise money for the Red Cross. They probably got assigned to do their Key Club project together or something, and they want to get enough volunteer hours for the class pizza party.
Over on the wrong side of the tracks, Lorna and Vera are about to check out the services available on Chestnut Street. Seems like a pretty rough place where men like to build fires in oil drums and then stand around them ominously. Maybe they are going to make a zippole in that fire, but probably not.
At the Jewel Box, Gladys is trying really super hard to be a good ally by making sure Betty knows this is a safe space for her to come out. Unfortunately, Betty is not budging on this hetero malarkey as her stubbornness is one of her more endearing traits.
In all seriousness, they are about to have one of the more tragic scenes I’ve seen on the show. Gladys asks Betty if her heart is really in it, and Betty snaps.
This is what girls do – they date boys. And they don’t get arrested, and they keep their jobs, and they don’t have the whole bloody world thinking they’re deviant freaks.
Betty, I never –
No, you didn’t. So don’t go telling me where my goddamned heart is.
Betty grabs Ivan when he returns and tells him to take her home, where we all know what’s about to happen. Scenes like this are why this show is important and really smacks me in the heart. Because we’ve all been in Betty’s shoes before – we’ve all struggled to fit a role that pinched our sides or felt like an oversized mask, but we did it because we felt we had to in order to survive, or because society expected it of us, or because we thought any other way was shameful and wrong. And we forced ourselves to keep playing the role, even when it started to really hurt.
Back on the wrong side of the tracks, Lorna and Vera are talking to the home abortion instructor about options. Lorna is obviously not going to come out and talk about Marco, so she pretends that she’s here for a young girl at the factory. Vera, being continually the wisest one on this goddamned show, is onto her shit. She tells her how it’s a homebrewed tea that makes you feel unpleasant, but you have to do it because girl power.
At the boarding house, Betty has taken Ivan up to her room, where she is attempting to down as much alcohol in the shortest amount of time that she possibly can. Then she engages in the most awkward and forced attempt at sex I’ve ever seen, which is both hilarious and heart-breaking.
Luckily Ivan is a decent guy who tells her that he doesn’t want to rush into things, especially if it’s her first time and she’s too drunk to remember. The wounded puppy face she makes continues to slay me. You know none of this is the way she wanted things to go, and you know exactly who she wishes was there right now.
The next morning, Gladys is nursing her hangover at the family mansion and trying to get her folks to let her throw a party for the Red Cross. She’s got to be super sneaky so they don’t see her rolling in the kegs this afternoon. They tell her they’ll allow it on the condition that she doesn’t attend as a factory worker, but as the Witham heir she is. Gladys acts sulky, but you know she’s busting out the fur for this one.
Gladys invites the factory ladies to her shindig, and they are skeptical until she says there will be free champagne, confirming my suspicions that they all secretly went to my college. When they show up, they are blown away by how fancy it all is, and Vera tells off that other bitch secretary who wants them to come through the back door. I love Vera.
Betty is trying to flag down a cab so she can get to the hottest party of the semester. Out of nowhere, she hears a familiar voice singing and goes all wet noodle. Who could it possibly be? Obviously it’s her dream girl and lady love, and obviously I jumped off my couch.
But the extreme thrill of seeing Kate is quickly overturned by the concern that she has been totes brainwashed by her creepy evangelical doomsday dad. Her dad spots Betty and calls her a demon, and Betty tells him she has a boyfriend now so he is totally wrong about her being gayer than gaysville. We know, honey. We’ve all had fake boyfriends to get our girlfriend’s evil dad off our tail, we know how that goes.
Betty wants Kate to leave with her, but Kate tells her to go before her father hurts Betty, or worse, hurts Kate. That’s the ticket that gets Betty to go and she takes our bleeding hearts with her. This is what I looked like during this scene:
At the Witham Party House, Gladys shows up in a super nice dress even though all the other factory workers are dressed like, hm, factory workers. Gladys is like DON’T HATE ME and goes to hang out with her new crush Kai who totally got his older brother to buy beer for all of them. Then she realizes her parents have done the equivalent of hanging a blown-up version of her awkward Confirmation photoshoot on the living room wall.
Gladys realizes her dad is a skeezeball and is using the fundraiser as a way to start his new ad campaign and maybe get the Red Cross to buy his canned goods. Because that’s what their fortune is based off of, remember. Canned goods. Anyway he’s all like CAPITALISM WHATEVER and tells her to go give the speech or he’ll cut her allowance. And she’s saving up for the Lip Smackers gift set!
Back on the wrong side of the tracks, the homeopathic medicine liberal lady who is probably a lesbian, let’s face it, is telling Lorna that she needs to drink this tea soon because she doesn’t have a lot of time left before the baby starts moving around and kicking and stuff. Lorna asks if other ladies use this treatment often, and the woman basically tells her that she’s not the only whore in Babylon.
Betty is late to the party and besides telling that bitch secretary to “shove it, powder puff” she runs up to Gladys and tells her that she’s found Kate and they need to spring her outta jail something fierce. Gladys is hosting the party of the year and is playing the role of Lindsay Lohan in Mean Girls when she throws a rager instead of going to the art show, and Betty tells her she wants her pink shirt back and runs off to get Kate on her own. Oh, Betty.
Gladys’ parents are making her give this speech, but Kai tells her that she needs to follow her heart and chase her dreams, etc. So instead of giving the speech her dad wrote, she talks about how amazing the factory girls are and then makes her dad pay three thousand dollars to the Red Cross. Kai gives her the approving smile and you know that’s gonna happen at some point.
Looks like Kate and her dad found some of the fire drums on the wrong side of the tracks, because they’re hanging out by one. Kate accuses her father of not letting her see her mother or siblings at the sanitorium. Dad’s all like oh she’s fine definitely not dead, definitely not thrown in a ditch somewhere. Betty runs up to save her like the white knight dyke she is, but Kate’s like, I got this.
Kate confronts her father about the letter, about lying to her to keep her loyal to him, and it’s the most awesome thing in the world. Kate someone who was formerly characterized by her innocence, her timid demeanor, is not giving her abuser the time of day. The next best thing would be for them to accidentally kill him, and oh, wouldn’t you know?
Betty insists they do this properly because they owe him at least a decent ending, but Kate says nope, leave the bitch, and covers him with a tarp and walks away. Kate, this new badass side of you is way too awesome.
Meanwhile at Joyless Junction, Lorna comes home to drink the tea when BAM! The little fettucini starts kicking. She pushes the teabag onto the floor in a gesture we are meant to interpret as a signal that she is going to cook the fettucini to full term.
Gladys shows up at Betty’s room to apologize for not helping her earlier, and promises they’ll look for Kate ASAP. Betty nods to where Kate is standing behind the door, and they bond. There is a distinct air in this room of Something Lesbian Just Took Place. Gladys gives her gay best friend a look and it’s adorable.
They all share a cigarette and listen to Billie Holiday and it’s all way too much for me. Look at this look. Look at it.
What will happen on next week’s episode? Will Betty and Kate do some processing? Will Gladys get grounded and banned from prom? How is Lorna’s biscotti coming along? Until next time, gals.