Logline: Three “good girl” suburban wives and mothers suddenly find themselves in desperate circumstances and decide to stop playing it safe and risk everything to take their power back.
Cast: Kathleen Rose Perkins, Mae Whitman, Retta, Matthew Lillard, Manny Montana, Reno Wilson
Creators: Jenna Bans (W / EP), Jeannine Renshaw (EP), Dean Parisot (D / EP)
Studios: Universal TV, Amblin
Housewives-Breaking Bad: what’s not to love?
In a suburban setting is an immediate throwback to Desperate Housewives, the pilot executes a neat and engaging setup. We meet three women, each stuck in a situation they desperately need to escape. Married for ten years to a cheating husband, housewife and mother-of-four Beth needs to spice up her life. Working double shifts to care for her ailing daughter, Ruby could use some extra cash. Finally, recently divorced Annie faces a custody battle with her douchey ex-husband. Naturally, they decide to rob the store Annie works at, and things go awry.
There are several pluses here. I enjoyed the writing, and voices in particular. The world felt familiar and comforting (writer Jenna Bans is no stranger to Desperate Housewives), and all leads are extremely sympathetic. I loved Beth in particular. She made me laugh out loud on several occasions, and is a natural, charismatic leader with a tendency to surprise. The pacing is tight. The only catch is this, and it’s a big one: this didn’t feel like a series.
Both Weeds and Breaking Bad had a kind of limitless energy in their premise. These were shows with protagonists making strong choices to cope with their circumstances. Both pilots set up stories that were fundamentally about change, and couldn’t be resolved in a couple of hours of narrative. The same can’t be said of Good Girls, unfortunately. This feels like a feature chopped clean in half, and doesn’t offer a problem that can’t easily be settled in ninety minutes like, say, A Simple Plan.
This isn’t to say that it can’t work as a series. There are several noticeable efforts to lay a series foundation, such as Ruby’s husband’s decision to sign up with the Police Academy, signaling future conflict. However, efforts to prolong the storyline run the risk of turning into contrivances (such as the twist that the stolen money belonged to some very dangerous men).
In sum, I’d love to see this pushed for now and redeveloped, with the aim of creating a stronger series foundation.