NBC’s Good Girls premiered last month and delivered a comedic spin on suburban darkness in the vein of Weeds and Breaking Bad. Three mothers are doing their best to keep their families intact, happy, and financially afloat. When they realize they’re all barely scraping by, they rob the grocery store where Annie (Mae Whitman) works. They may be better acquainted with lasagna recipes than criminal blueprints, but their mettle and smarts get them further than expected — and into much deeper trouble than anticipated. Below are four reasons Good Girls deserves inclusion on your weekly watch list.
Spoilers abound! You’ve been warned.
#1 Killer Leading Ladies
Good Girls stars three accomplished television actresses: Christina Hendricks (Mad Men, Another Period), Retta (Parks and Recreation), and Whitman (Arrested Development, Parenthood). Retta’s Ruby is a hardworking server with a sick daughter and supportive husband. She imbues every line with the effortless timing and delivery of a career comedian. Whitman’s Annie is an impulsive spitfire (shades of her Parenthood character, Amber) working as a cashier and doing right by her androgynous daughter, who is often mistaken for male. Whitman electrifies the screen whenever she’s visible, thrilling and frustrating the viewer – and her friends – with erratic decision-making. Despite her childfree lifestyle and sex symbol status, Hendricks is instantly believable as the beleaguered Beth, a mother of four who discovers her husband’s affair. The three women gel as close friends and literal partners in crime, and their palpable bond transcends the vapid “Girl power!” schtick employed by shallower shows.
#2 Feminist Themes
The first episode opens with voiceover narration: “Girls today can be anything. CEO, Olympic gold medalist, even a Supreme Court justice. We’ve finally broken that glass ceiling, and wow! It sure looks good from the top.” We’re then immersed in sequences of our heroines struggling to hold down their jobs, take care of their children, and keep their families functional. Beth is doing her best to be the perfect wife and mother but, à la The Feminine Mystique, her supposedly idyllic lifestyle leaves her unfulfilled. She’s saddled with the domestic labor of childcare and household management, while her breadwinning husband has been making disastrous financial decisions. Ruby’s job in the service industry subjects her to harassment from customers, like an old man who tries to steal her tip and teenagers who treat her disrespectfully. Annie must fend off her manager’s attempts at seduction, which don’t stop despite her clear lack of interest. While I’d appreciate more attention paid to the racial element of Ruby’s storyline, the show does an admirable job of highlighting the inequities women deal with, and how they’re affected by class, income, and family structure.
#3 Dope Soundtrack
You can hear the complete soundtrack on Spotify, and I highly recommend that you do. Featuring pop and R&B jams performed almost exclusively by women, it could easily serve as a workout or party playlist. There isn’t much to say except listen!
#4 High Stakes
There’s a textbook heist committed in broad daylight, with Beth barking orders and the trio brandishing firearms – not unusual in itself. But the plot thickens immediately. While she’s raiding the safe, Annie’s creepy manager identifies her (he spots her tell-tale tramp stamp), allowing him blackmail leverage. Annie accidentally steals far more than the $10,000 they intended, totaling $500,000. Ignoring pleas to exercise caution, she spends the money on a Porsche and gifts for her daughter. The women soon learn that the enemy they must evade isn’t the manager, or even the police: it’s a cabal of hardened criminals using the grocery store as a front. What began as a generic premise kept being complicated until I was hooked and couldn’t look away.
Good Girls airs Mondays on NBC at 10 PM.