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Cowboy Bob is more than just an action-packed musical about a bank robber in drag. The story asks us to ponder some questions that are pretty important for our time. 

 Have you ever wanted to break free? 

 Are some of us dealt a bad hand in life with no way out? 

 Is it ever okay to do a bad thing for a good reason? 


What is a Meritocracy? 

In Cowboy Bob, Peggy Jo is working full time and taking care of her disabled mother. But no matter how much she works, she can't seem to make ends meet. That's when she makes the choice to do something shocking. Rena has been working hard at the restaurant "Pepper's" for years but cannot seem to catch a break.


Generations of Americans were taught that you can live your wildest dreams if you just work hard and pay your dues. But, more and more studies show that the ideal of an American Meritocracy is a myth.  

Do you think it's true that everyone has the potential to succeed in the USA?

American Meritocracy:
a tall tale

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After each student plays the game, discuss the choices they made and why. What did you see play out that was mentioned in the Vox article and video?

Most of us have a clear understanding of what a hero is: A person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.

But what happens when you have a character, like Cowboy Bob or Rena, who does morally or ethically questionable things (like stealing)!? 

Enter the ANTI-HERO


This type of character is defintley not new. So explore these links to learn more about some popular examples, and how to create your own. 

A step-by-step guide to writing your own.

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She's a cowboy

Peggy Jo avoided capture for so long because she was dressed as a man - and a cowboy. People made assumptions based on her appearance, based on stereotypes. But what are those? And which of them is inaccurate? Let's look at what real cowboy life was like. What misconceptions exist about your culture or identity?

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Students research the time period and give a quick info session on one "good to know".


In the famous musical Les Miserables, the character Jean Valjean serves 19 years in prison for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his family.

  • Would you rob a bank to pay for your sick mother’s medication? 

  • Would you steal a loaf of bread to feed your starving family? 

  • Where’s the line for you? When is stealing ok?  

Peggy Jo Tallas claimed that she started robbing banks to cover the cost of caring for her disabled mother. 

..."she eventually admitted that she had decided to rob a bank to pay for her mother’s medications. But she certainly had no intention of robbing a second bank, she said. Or a third or a fourth..." - Texas Monthly

We've now entered the world of ethics, which some people spend their whole life studying and debating. But it's important stuff, and Cowboy Bob asks us to consider:

Is it ever okay to do bad things for a good reason? 

Ethics Activities

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