Women, black women especially, have often been left to sweep up the things that everyone else in society leaves behind. The same can be said for Lisa, (portrayed by an astounding Regina Hall) in Andrew Bujalski’s brutally honest but warm dramedy Support the Girls. Lisa is the general manager of a Hooters-like sports bar, crudely named Double Whammies, in the suburbs of Austin, Texas. She spends her days keeping the local joint running smoothly and mothering the slew of scantily clad 20-something waitresses who report to her. Going well above and beyond her job description, Lisa manages all of the drama and angst that come with being a young woman trying to scrape together a life for yourself while wearing a cleavage-bearing belly shirt and cut-off booty shorts.
Support the Girls opens with Lisa weeping tearfully from the driver’s seat of her car in the parking lot of Double Whammies. At the last minute, she pulls herself together when Maci (Haley Lu Richardson)—an infectiously bubbly young woman who is one of Lisa’s veteran waitresses—knocks on her car window to embrace her for their morning hug. Determined to press forward with her day, Lisa fixes her face and pushes through, checking off a slew of things on her excessively long and ever-growing to-do list. Over the course of the next several hours, she trains some new waitresses, terminates one of her cooks–though it pains her to do so– deals with a police incident and kicks out a rude patron who refused to respect her “zero-tolerance” policy when it comes to harassing her girls. This is only the stuff Lisa is dealing with at work; she’s also trying to come up with a plan for one of her girls who was involved in a violent altercation with her abusive boyfriend. There are also major hints about cracks and issues in Lisa’s marriage.
The women of Double Whammies–Danyelle (Shayna McHayle aka Junglepussy) in particular, a no-nonsense single mother–are fantastic and add depth and brilliance to a story that is shepherded by Hall. None of them act as filler characters; they all have interesting backstories and distinct personalities. Though he’s a man telling a women’s story, Bujalski gets it. He often frames Hall in close up, capturing all of the warring emotions of a big-hearted but exhausted woman. Hall’s range complements this framing, as her performance is remarkable. She sits squarely at the center of this narrative with the ensemble cast working around her instead of directly in her lane. As a result, the Girls Trip actress sparkles.
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