Support The Girls by Andrew Bujalski
Thursday 27 June 2019, by
COMING OUT TOMORROW Excellent statement on the dynamic of precarious work and the women taking it on - SUPPORT THE GIRLS by Andrew Bujalski
SUPPORT THE GIRLS follows Lisa (Regina Hall), the general manager at Double Whammies, a highway-side ‘sports bar with curves’, who has her normally unstoppable optimism and faith – in her girls, her customers, and herself – tested over the course of a long, strange day.
Double Whammies, a low-budget Hooters, is a typical sports bar and “brestaurant” facing competition from strip bars (should they ever decide to install TVs), casual dining restaurants with TVs in the bars, and the actual Hooters (in this universe, named Mancave). Of course it doesn’t look like that in the day-to-day. For manager and mother hen, Lisa, on her last day, she only sees problems with staff, customers and life. There is also the problem of the job itself—as the restaurant manager shares the precarious employment situation and income bracket with the front- and back-of-house staff, and shares the responsibilities of the restaurant owner, but none of the real power.
Support the Girls does not centre on workers’ personal dramas, like Waitress (2007) or Clerks II (2006)—essentially soap operas with poor people—but is a statement on this dynamic. In the world of 2019 the bottom rungs of the restaurant industry are not entry-level, summer, or student jobs; it’s how working people support their working families. As such, Double Whammies is simply an expression of social and economic stratification, with working-class problems like lack of child care, lack of options and lack of wealth expressed as bringing your child to work and stealing. Both Lisa and owner Cubby ask waitress Danyelle if she likes working at DW and both misunderstand her “yes” response. Danyelle likes that Lisa actually cares about the staff, and, when Cubby asks her, she clearly means she likes earning money to live.
Writer and director Andrew Bujalski understands that, in the service environment, it is the colleagues that keep you there since, ultimately, your only option is to waitress, cook, or sell elsewhere, which could be an even worse situation. Think less girl power and more surviving sexism. Thus, the film has no theme or plot, which is why there is no ending. The nature of the new working-class life, and old/ongoing Black life, is characterised by uncertainty, so the girls are doing what they can with what they have—hoping for more but are unlikely to get it.
RELEASED IN UK CINEMAS ON 28 JUNE 2019