For the first time that I can recall, I found myself fondly reminiscing about my freshman year of high school. Now, I think about my awkward teen days a fair amount (the past is unavoidable), but I had never felt pangs of nostalgia for the mid-2000s until I watched episode 4 of Girlboss "Ladyshopper99." Of the thirteen episodes, the fourth one contains, by far, the funniest, wittiest, and most compelling storyline. It also marks the first moment that I (and many others who watched) actually felt sympathy and interest in Sophia's (Britt Robertson) personal problems and budding Nasty Gal endeavors. It's the best episode in the season, and one could just watch it on its own and then turn it off and never watch another. Basically, "Ladyshopper99" is the only episode you need to watch to get the flavor of the series, without wanting to slap Sophia across the face like her wise old friend does (twice).
The truth is, every television series has that one stand-out episode, and usually there is more at stake, emotionally, then the plot line of this 30-minute mess to deliver a dress, but that is what makes it so good. Throughout Girlboss, I found it hard to be invested in Sophia's relationships, regardless of the screen time dedicated to her and Shane's flirtations, or her abandonment issues. Sophia only cares about Sophia, and because of this millennially-rooted narcissism, she must go through great lengths to understand how to be a good friend, tolerable daughter, and invested girlfriend (although — spoiler — fuck Shane). But there's one area of life where she has no trouble succeeding in: Vintage clothes. Her desire to buy, sell, create, and risk it all for items of clothing reveals a deeper layer of Sophia — it shows what makes her tick. And, like most of us, she finds herself doing her best work while in freaking the fuck out during a major time crunch (hello, finals week).
In "Ladyshopper99," Sophia is finding her groove on her newly minted eBay store, Nasty Gal Vintage. She's up-selling clothing, and she's showing signs of being a savvy business woman. She sells a gorgeous (debatable, but I also don't *get* vintage either), beaded dress to an online shopper (hence the title), only to have the thousand dollar dress sent back due to a "coffee stain." Sophia is positive that dress was in pristine condition when she sent it over, but to avoid a bad review (the scarlet letter of eBay shops), she promises the bride-to-be that she will clean the dress and have it messengered to the location of her wedding. She takes the dress to a nearby cleaners who is able to remove the stain while simultaneously causing a section of the beading to rip off. Frantic, Sophia runs back to her apartment and spends hours hunched over the dress, hand-stitching each bead back onto the bodice of the vintage silk dress.
This sewing scene is the first (and last) time we see Sophia actually altering clothing. (I am not counting when she cut up that kimono on Annie (Ellie Reed) because that was ratchet-looking.) We actually see Sophia fix a problem by doing work herself — she sits, she sews, she packages up the dress. I actually believed that she possessed skills that had to do with clothing design, and not that she was just lucky at scoring vintage leather jackets.
Then, as soon as things seem to be going well, she gets accidentally drunk and blacks out, because shit happens. And while the whole "I forgot to wake up to give the dress to a messenger!" plot line is super infuriating to watch as a viewer, it allows us to get My Favorite Scene In Girlboss, so I'll allow it. Scrambling to get the dress to the wedding location, Sophia literally runs to the destination. In order to arrive, she has to walk over the Golden Gate Bridge which is her biggest fear in life. With a little help from Marissa Cooper, Sophia goes from zero-to-hero in a triumphant sprint to the other side. (Earlier in the episode, Sophia and Annie watch the iconic and heart-breaking car crash scene at the end of The OC season 3 where Marissa Cooper perishes in the arms of Ryan Atwood, her one true love). It's the perfect mix of pop culture call-out, and narrative catalyst as it implies that her company is the most important person in her life and she'll do anything to save it. And nothing as clever happens for the rest of the series.
If I was the showrunner of the series, I would have used this as the pilot episode. It presents a different look at our lead protagonist. Instead of entitled, she seems determined, and rather than lazy, she seems fearless.
I only wish that while I was transported back in time via this alternate Girlboss universe Marissa came back to life in the end.
BRB while the 14-year-old cries over this scene for the umpteenth time.