I thought from the get-go that the premise of NBC’s new mid-season dramedy “Good Girls” sounded worth checking out. Probably not something I’d be able to convince my husband to watch with me, but it still looked like fun.
“Thelma and Louise meets Breaking Bad,” is how they described it, with a big picture of three women sitting beside a kiddie pool full of cash. I watched the trailer and thought it looked kind of fun, and possibly a little messed up. But definitely entertaining. And that impression from the trailer was just about right.
A standard “good” suburban house wife named Beth — the kind of soccer mom who drives a minivan and has all the kids’ activities color-coded on her monthly schedule at home — discovers her husband has been cheating on her with some sleazy young chick. And that her husband has secretly run their finances into the ground without her knowing, until now they are in desperate straights and about to lose their house.
Beth’s sister Annie (played my an extra snarky Mae Whitman, who was Lauren Graham’s daughter in “Parenthood”) is a single mom with a preteen daughter, working a minimum wage job and suddenly needing legal funds to fight the girl’s dad for custody.
Both are good friends with Ruby, a married woman working as a waitress to help support her two kids, one of whom is in desperate need of some super spendy kidney meds.
So, when they all come together and realize they’re each in a very bad way financially, they decide to rob a grocery story. Sound far-fetched? A little. But they only get there after a fair amount of denial that they’d ever consider it and discussion about how the store’s insurance will cover the theft, and lots of justification material along those lines.
Can We Root for These People?
Kind of. I mean, could we root for Walter White in “Breaking Bad?” (I never actually watched “Breaking Bad.” We tried the first episode and decided it was too dark for us). The idea with anti-hero/decent-into-crime stories is kind of more that we want to see how bad they go, and maybe see how bad we ourselves shouldn’t go.
The possible problem with this show, though, is that it’s (at least so far) a lot lighter and more fun than a show like “Breaking Bad,” so in a sense it’s kind of showing that some small crime here or there is all in good fun. I mean, not that we need to take it that seriously, but it’s a little flawed in that respect.
The other problem along these lines is that there is some serious feminist agenda going on here. Is it all bad? No. But it really does paint the picture, at least at certain points, that a woman can’t be both a good wife/mother and a badass. I don’t believe that’s true in the least. It’s not either or. Being the perfect soccer mom does not mean you can’t be strong, determined, and a force to be reckoned with. Creatively, I understand why the story seems to pit the two concepts against one another. But in real life, I think it’s a terrible idea to espouse.
Apart from the whole life of crime thing, which is a given, this show’s got a few other issues to be aware of. The sister Annie is kind of sexually loose, though there’s been nothing at all graphic in the way of sex scenes so far. There was, however, a kind of graphic (at least for primetime network TV) attempted sexual assault scene. It’s a little squeamy.
There’s also a bit of sexual dialogue, as well, and the language feels a little heavy for a primetime network show at times.
And then there’s another issue you’d never expect. Annie’s preteen daughter dresses like a boy and is “trying to find out who she is.” If it stopped there, it wouldn’t necessarily be a huge deal, but then they amp up conflict between Annie and the girl’s father by making the father say things about how the girl needs therapy, while Annie scoffs responses about how thinking like that is just religious bigotry. Remarks along these lines are fleeting and not a huge part of the plot, but I do still find myself with the occasional eye roll and irritation over it.
Over All, It’s Not Bad
The show is far from perfect, but I do think it’s better than a lot that’s out there. I’m not a fan of what seems to be the underlying agenda, but at least so far in season 1 there’s not a constant throat-shoving of ideology — it’s just pops up here and there.
I told my husband after I watched an episode or two while he did homework that I was finding it to be about 80% good entertainment, with the other 20% being marred by a little liberal agenda here and a bit more sexual content than you’d like to see there. As the episodes have progressed, I’d say that continues to be pretty true.
But it’s definitely entertaining and addicting enough that I’ll be tuning in for season 2.