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Series / Bomb Girls

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Bomb Girls is a Canadian drama set in a munitions factory (Victory Munitions) during World War II. The six-part miniseries began airing in January 2012 and aired for two seasons. The third season was cancelled in favor of a two-hour miniseries which wrapped everything up, and aired in 2014. It's a primarily character-driven show, exploring a wide variety of themes such as love, grief, feminism, infidelity, honesty, and following your dreams.

The show focuses primarily on four women:

  • Lorna Corbett (Meg Tilly) is the floor matron at Victory Munitions. Her husband is a war veteran who was left crippled after fighting in World War I, and their relationship is strained due to this. She is very patriotic and firmly believes that sacrifices are necessary to ensure happiness for everyone. Despite her firm attitude while at work, however, she cares very much for the girls on her shift.
  • Betty McRae (Ali Liebert) is the tomboyish one of the group and one of the girls who has worked the longest at the factory. She is a skilled worker and is often held up to an example to the other girls, being chosen as the "face" of Victory Munitions. At times very blunt and abrasive, behind her tough exterior Betty is plagued by a lack of self worth and confusion over her love for Kate.
  • Kate Andrews (Charlotte Hegele) is a runaway who came to the factory to escape her abusive, religious father. Shy and sweet, she struggles to leave behind her past and to start a new life for herself. She admires Gladys' glamorous lifestyle and is best friends with Betty, who introduces her to many new things. Kate is also a talented singer and dreams of doing it as a career.
  • Gladys Witham (Jodi Balfour) is an upper-class socialite who initially starts work at the factory as an office girl, but then ends up working on the floor with the other girls. Intelligent and headstrong, if at times naive, Gladys strongly believes in equality and doing what's right. At first an outsider due to her wealth and social standing, she eventually becomes good friends with Betty and Kate.

This work provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Kate's father.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: Betty to Kate, as she's leaving with her father. It gets her hit by Kate's father and rejected by Kate.
  • Attempted Rape:
    • A floor worker, Donald, tries to rape Kate in the storeroom. He's stopped by Leon.
    • Betty and Sergeant Teresa Hill are walking arm-in-arm down an alley when a man accosts them and after being shot down, goes after Teresa. Betty gives him a good right hook.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: Gladys displays this in her role as covert investigator of a saboteur at Vic Mu. While she occasionally makes a few false moves, she shows a flair for getting the right answer in the end.
  • Bad "Bad Acting": Betty during the filming of the newsreel.
  • Blatant Lies: In the movie finale, Gladys, as part of her spy cover, has to tell some real whoppers to keep the truth from leaking out. For example, she tells Lorna Corbett that she was pregnant, which was a deliberate and manipulative tactic. In another scene, she baldly claims that her boss, a Jewish man, is having an affair with a Christian woman, instead of revealing that he is quietly agitating to get the Canadian government to officially take notice of Nazi Germany's labor and death camps.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Betty, Gladys, and Kate, in that order, represent a trio of Town Girls, with Betty being somewhat more butch-like than the other two.
  • Blood from the Mouth: Vernon Rowley when he dies in the Season 2 premiere.
  • Butch Lesbian: Betty McRae is canonically more comfortable in a "masculine" milieu, and among other things she's a boxer.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: When Lorna has a miscarriage, she is taken to the hospital where her daughter works and is treated by a seemingly inconsequential East Indian doctor. A later episode reveals that her daughter is dating him and he is a recurring character for the rest of the show.
  • Dance of Romance: Betty and Kate in the pilot episode, though Kate doesn't realize it.
  • "Dear John" Letter: Subverted. Gladys writes one of these but is convinced by James not to send it.
  • Double Meaning:
    • Rollie Witham's speech at the Victory Calvacade: both he and Gladys are clearly aware of her affair with Eugene, but to everybody else it's just a rousing, stirring speech about a young engaged couple deferring gratification, which is what the theme of war bond drives often emphasized.
    • Kate's song after the speech. It clearly resonates differently with Betty than the remainder of the crowd.
  • Dramatic Irony:
    • In her Armistice Day speech, Lorna talks about how married couples never know what the other person is up to. This is while she is having an affair with one of her co-workers.
    • Another episode has Lorna mention to her daughter that one of the female workers is pregnant, saying to be careful as there are some mistakes you can't fix. Her daughter doesn't realize that Lorna was talking about herself.
    • After a German POW figures out that Betty is of German descent, he attempts to win Betty's favor by saying that back in Germany, the blonde-haired, blue-eyed Betty would be treated like a queen. The closeted lesbian Betty is less than amused.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Kate in the second season. Bob fits this as well.
  • Double Date: Betty and Ivan go on one of these with Kate and Ivan's friend Buster; Betty and Kate subsequently ignore their dates and eventually leave together.
  • Driven to Suicide: Vera after her accident that disfigured her face. She chooses to help Archie do it instead.
  • Eye Scream: Vera's accident at the factory caused damage to her eye and left her with a scar.
  • Fight Clubbing: In the movie, Betty competes in underground boxing matches as a way to earn money after getting out of prison.
  • The '40s: Obviously, since World War II's going on.
  • Four-Girl Ensemble: Betty (boyish and the Deadpan Snarker), Kate (sweet and naive), Gladys (glamorous), and Lorna (Team Mom).
  • Gayngst: Betty.
    "Nobody wants to be me, Mrs. Corbett. Nobody."
  • George Jetson Job Security: The female workers get fired (and rehired) at the drop of a hat.
  • Gosh Darn It to Heck!: Kate Andrews swears exactly like this in "Misfires".
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Lorna turns into one when she starts having feelings for Marco and sees him with other women.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Inverted. Vera, who had been collecting sleeping pills to commit suicide with, ends up making the difficult choice to them to give them to Archie who was dying a slow and very painful death.
  • Harbinger of Impending Doom: When James is talking to Gladys on the phone from England he mentions that he will moving to the front line and this might be the last time they'll talk until the war is over. Soon after, Gladys receives a telegram that he died during an air raid.
  • Her Heart Will Go On: Gladys displays this following the death of her fiancé in the war.
  • He's Dead, Jim: Kate to Betty when Betty attempts to rouse Kate's father.
  • Hero of Another Story: Lorna's daughter's romance with the East Indian doctor she works with doesn't get much screentime and their only scenes are from her parents' point of view. However it could be the premise of its own series.
  • Hide Your Lesbians: Until the first season finale. Justified in that being an out lesbian in the 1940's was nigh-unheard-of.
  • Humble Hero: Betty. Though Lorna sees her as a role model and Kate outright says she's a hero, Betty doesn't believe she's anything special. She's even chosen to be the "face" of Victory Munitions, much to her chagrin.
  • Hypocrite:
    • After Lorna writes up the list of rules, she immediately breaks them.
    • Lorna telling her daughter to stay away from Marco who she says is nothing but trouble.
  • Idiot Ball: Marco seems to carry this sometimes when he gets near Lorna.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Kate almost leaves town so that Betty will not be caught up in her mess and can continue to date Ivan.
  • I Will Wait for You: Invoked by Gladys, to James.
  • Insistent Terminology: Teresa insists on being called Seargeant Hill, rather than Miss Hill, and is very clear that the other WACs should be referred to as soldiers.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Middle-aged Lorna and teenage Reggie form a close bond and Reggie even moves in with Lorna's family when she can't find a place to live.
  • Interrupted Declaration of Love: Betty and Kate, interrupted by Gladys and Lorna.
    Kate: You deserve to be happy. Why do you want me messing up your life?
    Betty: The thing is, Kate ... the thing is ...
    Gladys and Lorna come rushing in as Gladys is trying to help Lorna, who is miscarrying.
    (As it turns out, Kate seems to figure this out anyway, going so far as to acknowledge it in "Blood Relations".)
  • It's All About Me: Hazel yells at Gladys for "taking everything from her", apparently ignoring the fact that she stole Gladys' perfume, scarf, and was having an affair with her fiance.
  • Jumped at the Call: Pretty much everyone.
    Clifford: (Lampshading this) You were eager to be called, Miss Witham. Ring-ring.
  • Lipstick Lesbian: Teresa Hill, the bond tour sergeant. Since her job, in part, revolves around reminding people that women are just as capable and competent as soldiers as men are assumed to be, she doesn't shy away from wearing typically "feminine" jewelry or cosmetics.
  • Keep the Home Fires Burning: The entire plot of the show revolves around this.
  • Killed Offscreen: James and Vera.
  • Meet Cute: Betty and Kate first meet when Kate is struggling to work the lock on her door. Betty helps her, but she's cold towards Kate, who awkwardly attempts to introduce herself.
  • Na´ve Newcomer: Gladys and Kate.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Karl Mueller, the escaped German POW, invokes this with Betty, who is hiding her sexuality and the fact that she is at least one quarter German on her mother's side.
  • Meadow Run: Played straight then subverted with Betty and Kate in the Season 2 premiere.
  • My Girl Back Home: Gladys is this to both James and Louis. Vera also remarks that she had accepted marriage proposals from several men before they were sent overseas.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Lorna, after having planted the newspaper in Marco's locker and hearing rumors of him being sent to an internment camp.
  • Nicknaming the Enemy: Happens as frequently as you'd expect in a show set during World War II.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Lorna puts her foot in it with her slightly racist comments about Dr. Patel to her daughter, and he overhears.
    • Kate/Marion and Betty are arrested and arraigned in the series finale.
  • One of the Boys: Betty.
    "I think Betty is somebody who had worked before, was really only comfortable in a male milieu."
  • Really 17 Years Old: Reggie. Betty (initially) tries to use it against her, while Lorna decides to turn a blind eye.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Bob, Lorna's husband. Also Eugene, their son.
  • STD Immunity: Subverted. James finds out he contracted Gonorrhea from Hazel; they both get treated with Penicillin.
  • Really Gets Around: Hazel, who has guys go to her for "practice". Marco admits he's gotten around a few times, but not as much as people like to think.
  • Ship Tease: Betty and Kate; Kate and Leon.
  • Shout-Out: To Billie Holiday and Cary Grant.
  • Spy School: In a way, what Gladys has been doing since she met Clifford. He recruits her to formally attend "The Farm" in the series finale. It sounds like being an Agents Dating scenario is waiting in the wings.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: The majority of the men in the show believe women should not be out working in bomb factories.
  • Surprise Pregnancy: Completely subverted. When Lorna starts experiencing symptoms of morning sickness, she knows exactly what's going on. So do most of the other girls too.
  • The Beard: Ivan is this for Betty, although Gladys immediately sees through it.
  • The Fundamentalist: Kate's father.
  • The Mole: Helen Buchinsky and Mr. Davis, both cooperating to sabotage necessary antisubmarine warfare devices.
  • These Hands Have Killed: Eugene, who is suffering from PTSD, rationalizes his self-destructive ways by stating that he's killed people, so already he's "not normal" anymore.
  • The Spymaster: Clifford, followed later by Jakob with Gladys as deputy to both.
  • Throwing Out the Script: Gladys' father turns her charity event for The Red Cross into the launch of Witham Foods' new brand. Gladys is told to give a speech announcing a comparatively modest donation from her parents to the Red Cross, but instead gives her own stirring speech — in which she publicly announces that her parents will give more than double what they originally intended.
  • Truth in Television: Pretty much everything.
  • Unaccustomed as I Am to Public Speaking...: Lorna, who rips up the speech she had rehearsed and improvised a very heartfelt one when her husband unexpectedly showed up.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Betty and Kate.
  • World War II
  • Wham Episode:
    • The first season finale. In-Universe as well, as the attack on Pearl Harbor is announced.
    • The second season mid-season finale.
    • The series finale. Kate discovers too late that Betty is going to take all the blame for her father's death.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • Lorna's husband calls her out for causing Marco to lose his job. He also criticizes Edith for writing fake letters to her children to hide the fact that their father is dead.
    • Gladys gives one to her fiance and father when she learns they are sending food to soldiers in subpar containers. James eventually listens and takes her side.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Betty and Kate. And they don't.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Kate's father, who abused her and hit Betty when she tried to stop Kate from leaving.