“I didn’t think I’d be sexually frustrated by a show about women becoming gangsters in order to provide for their families, but boy was I wrong.” – a quote from my husband about me
When I was asked to do this season recap I wasn’t sure I’d be able to narrow my focus enough to get something coherent down on paper. Luckily I was chatting with my husband at the time and he provided me with the above quote, which perfectly sums up my feelings for the first (and hopefully not last) season of NBC’s “Good Girls.” Initially, I was sold on the show based on the cast alone. Christina Hendricks plays stay-at-home mom Beth, Mae Whitman plays her younger (read: irresponsible) sister Annie, and Retta plays their best friend Ruby, a waitress. It was only after I started watching that I realized how fun the story actually is.
The overarching plot is pretty standard at this point – we’ve seen it on “Breaking Bad,” we’ve seen it on “Weeds,” we’ve seen it on countless one-off procedural episodes; it’s everywhere. It’s not a new or surprising plot: The three women of “Good Girls” all have tremendous expenses come into their lives somewhat unexpectedly and they turn to crime to help pay their debts.
Beth’s husband Dean (a perfectly cast Matthew Lillard) has been cheating with his assistant (a woefully underused Sara Paxton) and has run up so much debt they’re in danger of losing their house. Annie’s gender non-conforming daughter Sadie (Izzy Stannard) is getting bullied at school and her father, Annie’s estranged and remarried ex Gregg (Zach Gilford), is suing Annie for custody. Ruby’s daughter Sara (Lidya Jewett) has a serious kidney disease and requires medication that costs $10k a month.
All this information comes out almost immediately, and the girls decide to rob the grocery store where Annie works as a cashier. Their plan is to take advantage of the pretty lax security and Annie’s insider knowledge to empty the safe of $30k. The heist goes off (mostly) without a hitch until they discover they got away with WELL OVER the initial $30k. This is when the real meat of the series begins to show itself. It turns out a gang was using the grocery store to launder their misbegotten gains and the girls ended up walking away with over half a million dollars that they promptly started spending, despite that being suspicious AF.
The aforementioned gang is led by Rio (Manny Montana), who demands the girls give them back all the money, including what they’ve already spent, thus snowballing their one crime into an ongoing life of crime. As the series continued I found myself moderately compelled by the overall criminal enterprises, including: trying to ransom Annie’s boss Boomer (David Hornsby, the only outsider who knows that they robbed the grocery store), stealing from Boomer’s grandmother (June Squibb), importing and then washing counterfeit money from Canada and starting a pyramid scheme type of organization with other wives and mothers around town.
This was all very fun and entertaining but the best part of the show was absolutely the chemistry between the eponymous “Good Girls.” Christina Hendricks, Mae Whitman and Retta have been able to craft the kind of lived-in relationships and interactions that normally take actors and shows several seasons to accomplish. Annie and Beth are believable as sisters and Ruby is totally believable as their best friend. There’s a sisterly sniping with an undercurrent of deep love between Beth and Annie, and at the same time, Annie and Ruby have a hilarious “best friend and the little sister” relationship that also speaks to years of experience. Every time Annie and Ruby get to bounce off each other, sparks fly on the show.
If it feels like I’m burying the lede here it’s because I totally am.
Hello, my name is Kristin and my favorite thing about TV shows are the gold-hearted dirtbags who interact with my leading ladies. I love nothing more than a tough guy who’s really super squishy deep down and has a soft spot for the more “proper” leading (or supporting) lady who at some point comes to understand the tough guy, and they embark on a potentially ill-advised relationship. Give me Dylan McKay, Logan Echols, Spike, Pacey Witter, Damon Salvatore, Jughead Jones and pair them with Kelly Taylor, Veronica Mars, Buffy Summers, Joey Potter, Elena Gilbert and Betty Cooper and my life is complete! Well, for those wondering, we can now add another couple to this illustrious list: Rio the gangster and Beth Boland, the thrill-seeking housewife. Granted, these two have in no way consummated their relationship like the others on my list, but it feels safe to say that should the series continue (do the right thing NBC!) we will get there eventually.
When issues of chemistry arise on TV shows it can be tough to pinpoint whether it’s the writing, direction, acting, all three (or even something else) that makes a couple captivating to watch. For my money, I think most of it is the actors themselves. Christina Hendricks, for instance, could have chemistry with wallpaper paste, but there’s something almost magical when she shares the screen with Manny Montana. Even if they aren’t the only two in a scene, they’re the only ones you look at. Even when Rio is threatening Beth, or vice versa, it feels like they might start going at it any second. And if I’m being honest, a couple with chemistry like that can cover a multitude of sins on a show that I’m already mostly enjoying anyway.
Did Boomer start getting on my nerves? Was Mary Pat a little too much at times? Did I want to wring Annie’s neck for some of her bad decisions? 100% yes to all. But! I was so compelled by both the story and Beth and Rio’s relationship (couple name Brio courtesy of Pop Culture Review @adminpopcultrev) that my issues and concerns were smoothed over every time.
I don’t want to get too much deeper into plot points of the season just in case this recap prompts anyone to watch. Needless to say, the show is excellent, the characters are compelling and it ends on a huge cliffhanger (seriously NBC, renew this show). If you like shows about crime, female friendships or just smoldering chemistry between a “bad boy” and a “good girl,” you should totally check it out and then tweet me about it because I need more people to discuss #Brio with.
Hopefully, we’ll be back with some more “Good Girls” early next year, but for now I’m going to head on over to Hulu and rewatch season one! Did you watch season one? Let us know what shows you’re watching in the comments below!
Kristin was a military brat growing up but now she lives in Orlando with her husband Will and their dog Egon. She and her best friend Wil (not the husband!) have written a novel together and recently started the podcast “So…I’m Watching This Show” where they discuss movies, TV shows and pop culture in general. Most nights you can find her drinking wine and live tweeting way too many things.