Support the Girls, by Andrew Bujalski, is a funny, fast-paced, workplace comedy drama that’s seriously on the side of its female characters.
Sisters Are Doin' Itby Alexa Dalby
Set in a typical, blue-collar Hooters-style US sports bar ‘with curves’, Support the Girls follows a day from hell in the life of Lisa (an empathetic Regina Hall, Girls Trip), the overworked and under-appreciated manager of Double Whammies, a roadside bar where the nubile waitresses wear short shorts, midriff-baring T-shirts and flirt with the customers to get the drinks orders flowing.
Though the first we see of Lisa is her crying in her car before she starts her shift, with unfailingly resourceful good humour she copes with the day’s disasters, starting with training naive new recruits how to put on a borderline sexy performance and deal with sexual harassment.
Her day progresses to covering up an illegal charity car wash for medical expenses for a fellow employee; doing emergency childcare for the young son of a waitress (Shayna McHayle); covering up contract-breaking tattoos; dealing with a rat infestation and – spectacularly – finding ways to keep the customers happy and fix a TV screen that breaks down just when the bar is full of impatient men who have come to watch the big fight on it.
If that wasn’t enough, her general manager (James Le Gros) is an incompetent racist looking for reasons to fire her, her marriage is breaking down so that she has to find a new apartment for her husband (Lawrence Varnado) and her trusted deputy (Haley Lu Richardson) is having an affair with an unsuitable older customer.
In Support the Girls, sisters are instinctively supporting themselves through one crisis after another. Though the filmmaker (Andrew Bujalski, Funny Ha Ha, Computer Chess) is gloriously on their side, society certainly doesn’t seem to be.
These are real women not saints, and they’re stuck in low-paid jobs they hate, touting for tips. Some are single working mothers, or struggling to pay for medical care, or suffering racial discrimination and sexual harassment. Yet with mutual affection and ironic humour they help each other survive the casual sexism of their daily lives – though a cathartic scream can help them face these realities for another day. That’s just the way it is. Without the power to change society, quietly feminist mutual support is all you have to get you through.
Support the Girls premiered in the UK at the BFI London Film Festival and is released on 28 June 2019 in the UK.