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Entertainment Weekly

TV

Good Girls is a gentler, girlier Breaking Bad: EW review

Josh Stringer/NBC

Posted on

If you’ve ever found ­yourself simmering with “Must I do EVERYTHING around here?” resentment, then NBC’s Good Girls would like to invite you to its she-shed for a glass of chardonnay.

The dramedy follows three Michigan friends burdened with relatable (for TV, anyway) life challenges: Single mom Annie (Mae Whitman) is a cashier earning minimum wage and facing a custody battle with her ex (Zach Gilford)ex over their gender-noncomforming daughter; Beth (Christina Hendricks) is a harried mom of four who learns her husband (Matthew Lillard) is cheating on her with a blond floozy; and Ruby (Retta) is a waitress navigating a costly health-care system for her seriously ill daughter.

Though they’re surrounded almost entirely by weak and dismissive men, each of these “good girls” feels completely powerless. (Is the show’s title intentionally demeaning or just cutesy? Discuss.)

Hendricks’ Beth can’t even afford to pay for a bikini wax (a patriarchal ritual if there ever was one) because her spendthrift husband maxed out their credit cards buying lingerie for his mistress. Pushed to their proverbial limits, the trio decide that a “victimless crime”—robbing a grocery store—is the best way to solve their problems. “No one’s going to fix this,” says Beth. “We have to do this ourselves.”

 

Faster than you can say “But that’s not a sustainable premise for a TV show,”the women case the joint and carry out the robbery—only to learn that the money they took belongs to someone far more dangerous than a grocery-store manager. Finding themselves in literal life-and-death trouble, Beth, Annie and Ruby do what women do: grit their teeth and set to work cleaning up the mess.

Brisk, frequently funny, and set to a bouncy pop music beat, Good Girls settles into a comfortable rhythm in the first two episodes. Beth, Annie, and Ruby wrest control from the bad guys, but lose it again—though for every setback, the women take a tiny step toward empowerment. (Beth, for example, finally manages to use the universal remote for her TV without asking anyone — any man, that is — for help.)

It feels like there’s a built-in shelf life for Good Girls, but watching these frazzled moms use their hard-won problem-solving skills to get out of scrapes is a fun caper while it lasts. B

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