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‘The Girls on the Bus’: Does the series represent the reality of political journalism?

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Casper Libero chapter.

The new HBO Max series The Girls on the Bus follows four political journalists covering a controversial Democratic party characterized by demographic and generational conflicts. The events depicted in the series are fictional, but inspired by “Chasing Hillary”, the 2018 story by former New York Times reporter Amy Chozick about her involvement in covering Hillary Clinton‘s 2016 presidential campaign. Amy also served as an executive producer on the series.

As the title suggests, it aims to be the “female version” of Timothy Crouse’s classic 1973 portrait of campaign journalists, the book “The Boys on the Bus”. Not all of them work at newspapers, two of them are more concerned with the front page, which sends the message that female journalists are more interested in promoting their own business than doing their job.

Melissa Benoist plays the lead Sadie McCarthy, a journalist for The New York Sentinel. After the candidate she covered during the last presidential campaign lost, and Sadie’s tears went viral as a symbol of journalistic bias, her reputation was destroyed.

When her editor Bruce (Griffin Dunne) assigns her to cover the older male candidate in the race, Sadie stomps her foot and convinces him that she’s learned her lesson and can be trusted to report on the female frontrunner unbiasedly.

As the four women navigate through the career, all doubting their ability to be truly impartial and the cost of choosing such a demanding profession, they soon become close friends.

The story brings elements of the internet, such as cancel culture, double standards, and authenticity vs. impartiality along with an emerging follow-the-money secret and the obligatory campaign meetings that distract from the many amazing innuendos they could be making.

Once again, the industry has chosen to portray journalists (especially women) as some sort of child of Scandal and The Sex Lives of College Girls. Relationships, not reporting, are central to The Girls on the Bus. This is surprising because Chozick knows better than anyone how long and hard women have had to fight to be taken seriously as journalists.

With all of that being said, the series The Girls on the Bus had so much potential to be something great and to help people understand what it takes to be a political journalist but once again, as mentioned before, the industry chose to portray journalists in a “comedian” type rather than an actual profession. Overall the show is great but it focuses more on other things that are more TV show-like than to actually explain something. 

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The article above was edited by Maria Esther Cortez.

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Giulianna Behrens

Casper Libero '28

Oii! Meu nome é Giulianna Behrens (ou Giuli) e estou no meu primeiro semestre de jornalismo na Cásper Líbero. Meus interesses são diversos porém em especial literatura e esportes.