The Go-Go’s: Breaking Barriers and Changing the Game


The Boundary Breaking Go-Go's 

Ro and Joi freely admit to liking documentaries. They're a great way to dip a toe in to messiness without the need to invite it into real life. Documentaries also provide an meaningful way to expand the elements of history to properly capture the zeitgeist of a decade. 

The latest entry in documenting music history on film is The Go-Go's from director Alison Ellwood (History of the Eagles). Ellwood gathered all the members of the ground-breaking girl group together for open honest discussion about their rise to fame. This group created an entire zeitgeist altogether. It's worth knowing about. 

The women were frank about their ambitions, honest about their missteps, and real about the challenges to breaking into the music scene. 

Respect the Game But Smashing the Mold 

Prepare for a rather comprehensive oral history. Ellwood's directorial style blends live interviews and archival footage to present a seamless look at the journey of a rock band. There's sex, drugs, grit, grime and glamour. 

(L-R): Charlotte Caffey, Gina Schock (drums), Belinda Carlisle, Kathy Valentine (bass, behind Belinda Carlisle's head), Jane Wiedlin. 1981. Photo credit: Cassy Cohen/Courtesy of SHOWTIME.

The Go-Go's hold the title as the first (and last) all female rock group to play their own instruments, sing original songs (that they wrote) to have a number one album. It doesn't take more than a downbeat to identify a song by The Go-Go's. Their style was distinct and trendsetting. Learning what it took to get them to the top and what toppled them reveals the strange chemistry likely at the heart of every successful group. 

Watching this band of badasses grow from punk devotees into stadium-filling rock stars was a wild and engaging ride. The pieces slowly fall into place as they grow into themselves (and out of the punk scene). Their coming of age crashed through the gates of the industry; swiftly dispelling the longstanding belief that 'girl bands don't sell records.' 

This clear-eyed look back chronicles a journey that's unparalleled in terms of success and unflinching (for the most part) in terms of confronting the band's weaknesses and egos. The darker side of fame, personal demons, and crushing schedules only touches on the subjects discussed. It's a raw look behind the curtain that informs, entertains and sends you away wondering: 

What exactly will it take to get The Go-Go's into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? 

"The Go-Gos" premieres July 31 at 9 p.m. on Showtime. Listen as Ro and Joi's spoiler-free discussion about this documentary about a group that paved the way for generations of musicians. 

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