When Hillary Clinton ran for President of the United States in 2016, she was the first woman ever to win the nomination of a major party. The historic moment wouldn’t take her to the West Wing, but it allowed the world to witness what can happen when a woman persists.
In the Apple TV+ docuseries Gutsy, former Secretary of State Clinton and her co-host, daughter Chelsea, travel around the country interviewing fellow female change-makers — and just in time to offer viewers some inspiration, as the ongoing fight for women’s rights has taken on new urgency.
Over the eight episodes of the series, which tackles the personal and public battles of its subjects, the mother-daughter duo sits down with reverends, firefighters, activists and mothers — with a heavy dose of star power from the likes of Amy Schumer, Kim Kardashian, Gloria Steinem and Amber Ruffin.
“We view ‘gutsy’ as those core values that people need to have — resilience, determination, persistence, courage — to get through life, to get up when you’re knocked down to deal with the setbacks and disappointments of any life,” the former presidential nominee tells Yahoo Life.
The series, which is based the pair’s New York Times bestseller, The Book of Gutsy Women, highlights subjects from various backgrounds who have done something extraordinary by being unapologetically themselves — such as Shannon Foley Martinez, a former white supremacist from Georgia who now uses canoe trips to help rehabilitate other women leaving hate groups.
“She left that movement of hate and discrimination to try to live a different life, and she’s now trying to reprogram others to get beyond all of that,” says the former first lady, adding, “We are looking for women who are gutsy not just for themselves, but on behalf of others.”
Gutsy gives viewers a chance to see another side of Hillary and Chelsea Clinton — including their organic chemistry at work, with Chelsea routinely teasing her mother, and each opening up about their own personal obstacles. In episode 4, for example, Clinton sits down with Rev. Whittney Ijanaten, who is queer and Black and who marries all couples, specifically those who are LGBTQ. That conversation quickly turns to the former Secretary of State’s own relationship, and she reveals that the gutsiest thing she ever did was to stay in her marriage — which “doesn’t mean it’s right for everybody,” she says.
“We didn’t have any script, nothing was off-limits, and when she asked me that question, I felt like I had to be as open about my own life as she had been and others had been,” she explains about why she didn’t shy away from the topic. “We had two-way conversations with the women we were interviewing, but we kind of want two-way conversations with people watching it, and we hope it sparks a lot of conversations in families and groups of friends and everybody else.”
Chelsea also opens up, getting candid about the difficulties she faced as the child of politicians, and how she can’t remember a time in her life when she wasn’t aware of the hate towards her family. She was also acutely aware of the negative attention she received as a teen from the media, and admits in the premiere episode, featuring Schumer, that she wasn’t a fan of comedy because of all the jokes made at her expense.
“Thankfully, because there was so much and it came from people who were on the Right or people who you might think are on the Left, and it came from talk show hosts and people who were professional comedians, it made me realize that this is not about me,” Chelsea says.
“This episode really taught me a lot, because for so long I thought comedy wasn’t really funny,” explains. “I thought maybe it was mean-spirited, and this was really illuminating for me, and I learned a lot about myself. And I learned a lot about comedy and I have a completely new appreciation.”
Still, she’s firm that some things should remain off limits.
“How weird is it that adults are making fun of a kid? It’s just weird,” Chelsea says. “And I know that we disagree about so much in this country, but I hope that we can agree that you shouldn’t make fun of children.”
Something she and her mom can definitely agree on is the gutsiness of rapper Megan thee Stallion, who also appears on the series. “Truly what struck me about Megan Thee Stallion is just how much she refuses to concede her joy. She is unapologetically herself. She is unapologetically herself as an artist, as an activist, and what she hopes to do with reforming healthcare and the dignity of older people in her home community,” Chelsea says.
Over the years, Stallion has received backlash from the press and on social media for her sexually explicit lyrics. Still, she remains one of the most popular rappers in the country and has three Grammy Awards to show for it, enjoying her success despite criticism from her haters. It’s a trait that inspires Chelsea to do the same.
“She has refused to have her joy taken from her by the people who want to tear her down. They don’t like the fact that she refuses to be anything but herself in all settings, and that really struck me. Because sometimes we think, particularity as women, we have to dampen our joy,” she says.
“So to just see her be so joyful and listen to that joy in the hours we spent with her, it’s like oh, wow, I have to remember to find my joy, too.”
—Video produced by Jacquie Cosgrove