Good Girls Review
About six months ago, I wrote a series of articles for this website in which I argued about the lack of female leads of series who could be as dark as Tony Soprano or Walter White. Now, I find myself more than a little surprised to see a series that has not one, but three female leads with the possibility to be real anti-heroines. Even more astonishing, the series is on NBC, which has been undergoing a creative and popular resurgence over the past couple of years (thank you, This is Us). But is Good Girls really at that level, or is trying to be a pale imitation?
The series focuses on three Michigan women who are all struggling with interior problems nearly as big. Beth (Christina Hendricks) is a forty-ish housewife with four kids, who just found out that not only is her car-dealer husband cheating on her with a woman half his age, he’s mortgaged their house to pay bad loans. Annie, her younger sister, (Mae Whitman) is barely scraping buy at her minimum wage job at a grocery store, trying to support her child, and her much richer ex (Zach Gilford) is suing her for custody. And Ruby (Retta) actually has a happy marriage and a daughter who loves her. Unfortunately, she has a kidney disease, and needs treatment and they have no insurance.
When all of these events form a perfect storm, the three woman team to rob Annie’s grocery store just to get $30, 000 to pay their bills. Unfortunately, the grocery store is under the management of drug dealers who are using it to launder money. So, there’s more than ten times that when they get there. And when the drug dealers find out who robbed them, they want their money back with interest.
This may not seem like the easiest plot for a series, but then again, neither did the Pilot for Breaking Bad. What makes Good Girls a little harder to see working is the fact that none of the three women seem willing to go ‘all in’ yet. At the end of the pilot, Annie’s boss at the mini-mart tried to blackmail her, then got drunk, and tried to rape her. Beth then pointed a gun at him, and he seemed to get killed. Everything got set up so that he was probably going to be their first dead body. Except it turned out that Beth and Anne had grabbed him, and hogtied him in a playset. Eventually, they let him go, and arrange things so that he might end up charged as a sex offender should he ever talk about what happened to him. But it’s clear that the showrunners still seem to be hedging their bets a little. When the drug dealers prepare to execute the three of them, Beth frantically talks them out of it by telling them: “We’re good people! And when good people get killed like this, people pay attention!) They still seem to be holding to that.
I am, however, more inclined to give this series a little more latitude because of my utter confidence in the leads. All three actresses have done some truly remarkable work in the second Golden Age, and I am particularly glad to see Whitman, who has been a tremendous actress for nearly twenty years (!) , finally playing an actual adult. The women are more easily relatable than so many of male antiheroes, which may be good for the series run. Will Good Girls continue to work? I’m not sure. But it does represent a step in the right direction, and these actresses are very good at their jobs.
My score: 3.5 stars.