When Girlfriend’s Guide to Divorce premiered, the main character wasn’t Abby, or her future ex-husband, Jake, or her girlfriends—the main character was divorce. This was a pretty novel idea, and it was a bold one coming from Bravo, the land of Pinot Grigio and broken marriages. However, by the third episode, that theme was beginning to seem a little daunting. Divorce is tough stuff. Was this going to be the show’s focus forever?
But somewhere around the last episode, Girlfriend’s Guide stopped being about divorce and started zeroing in on the titular girlfriends. Now we’re not just talking about divorce: We’re talking about women who happen to be going through divorces, or, in Phoebe’s case, a woman who has come out on the other side of divorce and still doesn’t really seem to know herself. In fact, if tonight’s episode has a theme other than pretending that characters have wildly different ages from those of the actors playing them, it’s that everyone is trying to know or get to know people they should technically already know, like themselves or Bernadette Peters’ character.
In a wildly perfect twist, Peters stepped into the role of Lyla’s mother tonight. As with Janeane Garofalo’s portrayal of Lyla, she clicks so instantly that I’m prematurely devastated about the possibility of losing her. In contrast, the extra time spent with Phoebe made me quite certain I would be fine with Phoebe living permanently in that well-lit coffee shop, appearing in the occasional school lobby scene in a crop top and prairie skirt. It’s not that Phoebe doesn’t serve a purpose; she does. She’s a counterpoint to Abby’s protagonist pragmatism and Lyla’s magnetic fury, and that purpose is served through occasional bathroom fights, reconciliations in coffee shops, and evening gowns made entirely out of hosiery. Tonight, her time spent with Mr. and Mrs. Euro felt a little like time wasted, to me, and most likely will feel that way to them when they find their necklace on the nightstand… Should have gone to Jared, I guess.
The episode kicks off with Abby running into the market, on her way to take Lilly and Charlie to school, and bumping into Will, her one-night stand from the pilot. Throughout the episode, we will be led to believe that Will is 28 years old, which is far too young for Abby. As Warren Christie, the actor who plays Will, is coming up on 40 in a year’s time, and Lisa Edelstein looks like she could have played the cool mom in Mean Girls, you will never believe their age gap is as insurmountable as Abby and all of her nuclear family imply. At various points, Will is likened to Lilly, who is played by an age-appropriate 16-year-old, and Becca, who is played by a relatively age-appropriate 27-year-old. It feels ridiculous every time, since that man is a very handsome, very charming 39-year-old. But if dating a pretend 28-year-old is what it takes for Abby to let loose a little and realize that this divorce is affecting her in ways she didn’t even realize, then I guess she should go for it.
And she does. After Will finds Abby in that market and insists she at least take his number, she calls. He takes her to a club that she thinks is way too hip for her; she’s actually just way too sane for it. There, Will is spotted by his crazy ex-girlfriend—women are, like, so crazy, amiright?—who repeatedly screams that Abby is a slut and throws a drink at her. Rather than get angry with Will, because Abby is not crazy (“Enough with the slut, that’s a terrible word”), she’s invigorated by the way she’s standing up for herself: “Was I steppin’ to her?!” You sure were, Abs.
But the result—an adrenaline-rush makeout with her younger fella—doesn’t last long. A quick break for breath reveals that Abby isn’t the only McCarthy in the joint. Lilly, who is supposed to be with her father in his super-cool bachelor pad, is instead at the same club frequented by fake 28-year-olds, making out with an “older guy” who looks about 14.
You see, Jake is also feeling the pressure of being a newly single parent. His kids aren’t too happy with him and don’t feel like having lots of deep chats in between Austin & Ally commercials. So, earlier in the episode, Lilly fakes like she’s going to bed and then sneaks out. When Jake discovers that, he does everything to find her except call her mother, even though his girlfriend Becca, still the sanest person on this show, insists that he should.
Later, when Abby drives Lilly back to Jake’s, she’s livid that he didn’t tell her. Rather than apologize, he says that she’s been making parenting a contest and starts talking smack about how young Will, her fellow passenger, looks. This is pretty rich, considering Becca—who plays a teenager on TV—is standing behind him, judging his immaturity. But no one is more hurt than Lilly, who overhears this entire petty argument between her parents and their various millennial guests, and screams, “How come I’m the only one acting my age? You make me sick!” Dramatic? Sure, but no more so than her parents, who are, in fact, not 15-year-olds.
NEXT: Lyla’s having mommy issues…