Lay Your Cards Down: ‘Girls State’ Runs The World

'Girls State' (Photo courtesy AppleTV+)

Political voices regularly discuss the state of the United States of America’s democratic union during any election season. The release of “Girls State,” a documentary, could not be timelier.

Capturing the spirit of democracy, “Girls State” — which premiered on Apple TV+ on Friday, April 5, 2024 — follows 500 adolescent women across Missouri as they converge for a week-long immersion in a sophisticated democratic laboratory. They organize a Supreme Court to consider the most contentious issues of the day. The film offers a compelling glimpse into what U.S. democracy could look like in the hands of teenage women.

Set in 2022 at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Mo., a monumental experiment in democracy unfolded as the formidable, politically minded young people embarked on a journey into the intricate workings of governance and the pursuit of equality.

'Girls State' (Photo courtesy AppleTV+)
‘Girls State’ (Photo courtesy AppleTV+)


In this documentary, young female leaders from wildly divergent backgrounds navigate an immersive experiment to build a government from the ground up. From spirited debates to heartfelt alliances, “Girls State” explores youth’s poignant power and the human spirit’s resilience.

Directed and produced by the acclaimed filmmaking duo Amanda McBaine and Jesse Moss, the documentary delves deep into the lives of these young women as they navigate the tumultuous landscape of contemporary politics. Against a nation grappling with escalating polarization and dwindling civil discourse, “Girls State” highlights the tenacity and resilience of the next generation of leaders.

As the movie “Barbie” encourages audiences to consider the implications of an all-female Supreme Court, “Girls State” poses profound questions: How are these young women reshaping the political landscape? What values do they hold as leaders and individuals? What lessons can government officials learn from their democratic journey?

The leaders of the groundbreaking project are Emily Worthmore, Maddie Rowan, Tochi Ihekona, Faith Glasgow, Cecilia Bartin, Nisha Murali and Brooke Taylor, who serve as the narrative’s cornerstones. With unwavering determination, they strive to carve out their place in a patriarchal arena by challenging societal and oppressive norms.

'Girls State' (Photo courtesy AppleTV+)
‘Girls State’ (Photo courtesy AppleTV+)


Drawing inspiration from the success of their earlier Sundance documentary, “Boys State,” in which they followed 1,000 young men taking part in a weeklong program sponsored by the American Legion in Texas in 2018, McBaine and Moss continued to embark on a compelling exploration of gender dynamics within politics. The boys’ program unfolds with an air of traditionalism and formality while a productive and powerful camaraderie imbues the “Girls State.” The young women find solace in each other’s company, forming bonds that transcend ideological divides.

How are these young women reshaping the political landscape? What values do they hold as leaders and individuals? What lessons can government officials learn from their democratic journey?

Some ideological clashes highlight a microcosm of the broader debates surrounding race, gender and representation in politics and shed light on the complexities of the democratic process. However, amidst the political maneuvering and ideological debates, “Girls State” is a poignant exploration of self-discovery and the pursuit of authenticity. Through moments of vulnerability and triumph, the politically mined young people in “Girls State” inspire audiences to believe in the power of collective action and resilience.

'Girls State' (Photo courtesy AppleTV+)
‘Girls State’ (Photo courtesy AppleTV+)

“Girls State” serves as a powerful reminder of the enduring power of democracy and the indomitable spirit of youth. As the world grapples with unprecedented challenges, this extraordinary documentary reminds us that change begins with a single voice and a shared vision.

Check out the trailer below.

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