Abby aims to be a new divorce guru, but she gets a few lessons of her own (hint: not everyone is still having sexy times with their ex).
Abby’s relationships in Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce have always been its strongest feature, from the glamorous friend-foursome with Delia, Phoebe, and Jo (whose favorite pastimes include sitting down in a well-lit coffee shop, not drinking any coffee, and leaving), to her dynamic and ever-changing relationship with Jake. The latter is especially rich in material, much in thanks to Lisa Edelstein and Paul Adelstein, but also because Jake and Abby are relatable not in the specifics of their relationship — every divorced woman is not down to clown with her ex in his midlife crisis Porsche — but in the way the show embraces that there’s no easy answer to the kind of relationship one should or should not want to have with an ex.
In a broader sense, though, the specific lens through which GGTD has taken on divorce-at-large became the weakness of its debut season, and it’s one that looks to be getting some much-needed attention in the course-correcting season 2 premiere. GGTD is Abby’s story, but divorce itself is the experience of many people and many women (not just wealthy white women with open-concept kitchens and nannies), and if Abby is going to brand herself as the divorce writer — if Girlfriends’ Guide is going to brand itself as a show about divorce — it’s important to get some perspective…which brings us to our first Hell Yes moment of the premiere:
HELL YES: Please welcome to the stage, Retta. Everyone’s favorite funny tweeter plays Barbara, and Babs doesn’t find divorce quite as fun, flirty, and fabulous as Abby, who’s up for a new gig at SheShe, an editorial website that Delia unironically describes as “life hacks for busy gals.” Sorry, but, woof. She spends the episode getting ready for her pitch to the editors at SheShe for a column featuring “a really positive approach to a really hard topic — lean into the idea that divorce can be fun.”
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When Barbara has some questions about just what’s so fun about divorce — has she not seen all of Abby’s fun, strappy tops?! — Abby asks her to kindly lock it up until she’s done with her pitch. So Barbara does…and then she leaves the room about the time Abby is saying, “a new look for a new you,” blah, blah, blah. Abby gets the job (she had a vision binder!) but is told that Barbara, her managing editor, probably isn’t going to be too keen on the “crazy, sexy, fun” divorce angle. And for good reason…
There’s another side to divorce (there are many sides to divorce), and Barbara’s experience has not been crazy, sexy, or fun, as she informs her new writer: She has not had the “life-affirming” divorce of Abby’s shiny, happy pitch; Barbara’s post-divorce life is, to quote, “shit.” Her husband left her for her sister, she has a child with special needs, a mother with Alzheimer’s, and no help: “This is what the real face of divorce looks like; it’s stressed out, it’s old before it’s time, and it’s scared to death.” May I just say: Hot damn, hell yes, bring on Abby having to dig a little deeper on her new guru brand.
HELL, WE’LL SEE: Abby has to remember that not everyone still has their ex as parenting partner…or a bed buddy. That’s right, we’ve reached all-access Jake & Abby 2.0. Their rekindled spark from the season 1 premiere has only grown since then, but while they both seem to be harboring some hope that they can make their marriage work again, they’ve still been keeping secrets: Abby is holding off on talking about their future (probably because she just cemented her own future as a divorce columnist), and Jake still hasn’t told Abby about Becca’s pregnancy by the end of the episode. And a marriage is no place for dishonesty. See below…
HELL YES: Awesome, strong, doesn’t-want-to-get-married Delia is somehow still engaged to this Gordon guy, and it’s Delia who’s still making all of the compromises in their relationship. She doesn’t want to get married, but he does, so they’re getting married. She really doesn’t want a big wedding, but he continues to push, asking her if there isn’t some part of her that always dreamed of a wedding, which brings about the following Hell Yes freak out: “You know what, I’m sick and tired of being told that I don’t know my own mind. I’m pretty damn clear — I’m not going to be a professional wife, and I’m not anyone’s blushing bride.” Well, that seemed clear. Until…
HELL NO: Delia thumbs through a few wedding magazines, still looking none too excited, and tells Gordon that if he plans everything, they can have the big wedding he wants. Why?! Why, Delia, whyyyyyy?
HELL YES, TBD: Another weakness of last season, unfortunately, was Phoebe. She had about a hundred different story lines, none of which shined too brightly. Certainly the most resonant, though, was the discovery that the photographer who took advantage of her as a naïve teenage model is now a parent at her children’s school. That led to the photographer, Cory, pressing charges against Phoebe for a physical altercation. Although Phoebe has been advised to settle, she wants to fight back, first by trying to gather more young women that Cory hurt to speak out against her, then by writing an advisory in the parent’s newsletter about “[thrusting] children into an adult world where innocence is a commodity to be bought and sold.” It either alludes to Cory, or mentions her directly, which leads to this Hell Yes moment:
Cory: You are so crazy.
Phoebe: That’s what people like you say when they’re cornered.
Cory: No one’s going to believe you Phoebe.
Phoebe: And that — they say that.
Cory drops the suit, but hopefully this is something that Phoebe can see all the way through to the end.
HELL. TO. THE. NO: The acting was supreme. I’ll be frank — the alleyway sex was hot. But what in the hell was that final scene with Will and Abby? I just really don’t think we saw enough of their relationship last season or that Abby gave enough indication that she was that emotionally committed to it to warrant the level of freak out that he gave her. He may be right that going back to Jake is not her best plan, but to borrow from Delia’s fleeting philosophy, I’m sick of people telling Abby that she doesn’t know her own mind. Dude — she’s just not that into you.
Jo makes brief appearances as she works on opening her vegan bakery, bringing her British pastry chef to live in a tent in Abby’s backyard (Phoebe: “That sounds kind of hot”), and prepares for Zoey to go meet her father’s other family, but this premiere — and, likely, this season — is mostly about the recoupling of Abby and Jake, as the episode ends with them committing to each other that this time will be “different.” And I’m rooting for those two, really, but this show isn’t called Girlfriends’ Guide to Jake and Abby. For me, the far more interesting commitment in this premiere is that through Abby, season 2 might offer a different guide to a different kind of girlfriend about a different side of divorce.