Standing in the underground, speakeasy-themed Los Angeles bar Birds & Bees, Retta, 48, is proposing a toast to her Good Girls costars Mae Whitman, 30, and Christina Hendricks, 43, in celebration of their NBC drama’s second season. Although, if anyone could use a drink, it’s the characters these women play. In season 1, Good Girls won viewers over with its dynamic, unapologetically flawed female leads and its ability to find humor in the darkest of situations when three suburban moms — Beth (Hendricks), Ruby (Retta), and Annie (Whitman) — decided that robbing a grocery store would solve their financial problems. Needless to say, it didn’t — and since then, the women have found themselves falling deeper into the criminal underworld, all in the name of family. But the crazier their lives get, the more addictive the show becomes, which is precisely why we’re toasting. Back at the bar, the women grab their drinks and prepare to treat themselves.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Each of you was on a hit show before Good Girls — Mad Men for Christina, Parenthood for Mae, and Parks and Recreation for Retta. Why was Good Girls the right next project?
MAE WHITMAN: This character is the opposite of what I usually play. I’m usually the worldly teen who’s too sage for this high school, and now I feel like I’m a 15-year-old stuck in a 30-year-old’s body where I had my development arrested when I had my kid. I like playing the one who’s not all there all the time. I’m the Joey Tribbiani.
CHRISTINA HENDRICKS: We were all on long-running shows, and when you make your decision what you want to do next, you want to make sure you want to do that every day. I was like, “This is going to be fun! I’ve been crying for so many years!” And then we get on this show and it’s the most stressful, anxious, upset that I’ve ever had to play. [Laughs]
WHITMAN: I’m getting the consternation headache as you’re talking about it.
HENDRICKS: We’re still having fun, but it’s not really what we thought it was going to be.
RETTA: We’re having to do face massages and exercises to get the consternation out of our system.
WHITMAN: We’re always like, “You guys are going to have to pay for our facelifts in season 10!”
RETTA: Season 4.
WHITMAN: But that’s the cool thing about this show, too — it does have that Fargo vibe. When you read it, it’s so funny, but the more serious and straight and real it is, the funnier it is to the audience. It’s about that absurdity. So I guess it’s worth all the headaches?
RETTA: We’re hoping.
Another draw of this show, I’m sure, was the empowerment factor. These are three women who are taking their lives into their own hands.
WHITMAN: And they’re weird women and imperfect women. We talk about that a lot, that they’re messy and they drink too much and they make a lot of mistakes and they’re mean to each other and none of us are perfect and none of us are trying to be “likable,” which I think is a real thing that happens for women a lot in the industry. They’re like, “We’ll just give her a smoky eye and then people will think she’s a mess.”
HENDRICKS: I know which film you’re talking about. [Laughs]
WHITMAN: But you know what I’m saying? I feel lucky that we’re just people and we’re uneven and messy and f—ed up.
How does season 2 compare with season 1?
RETTA: It’s crazier. There are more times during season 2 that I texted [executive producer] Jenna [Bans] mortified at what we had to go through.
WHITMAN: It’s definitely darker. It’s a whole different set of issues and circumstances. It just feels like the next logical progression in their story.
HENDRICKS: The thing about these women is they keep trying to go back [to their normal lives]. This season we see the flip side on Beth where she’s like, “I’m just going to be a mom,” and you see her back in the old life and she’s looking around and she’s like, “I don’t belong in that crime world because I’m out of my depth,” but she no longer fits in the old world anymore, either.
Who would you call if you had to bury a body?
RETTA: My friend Rosa. She would plan it.
WHITMAN: I would need multiple people. I would call [Castle Rock actress] Jane Levy, my best friend, to do all the heavy lifting because she’s really strong. And then I would have my boyfriend scout the area and make sure we didn’t leave any gloves or tools, because he’s very observant. He’d be on watch. I would have my best friend, [Parenthood costar] Miles Heizer, with me for emotional support if I started to panic. And then I would have [fashion designer] Rachel Antonoff create a fake alibi for me.
HENDRICKS: Every person I’m thinking of would help me, but then I’d get a lesson about it later.
WHITMAN: I’ll help you.
HENDRICKS: I think you would help me. I think you both would help. I think I would call you guys!
RETTA: You need to call me to set up the plan, but then I’m out. Don’t have me on site. I’m the worst. I will f—ing pee my pants.
WHITMAN: I got it. I can do the heavy lifting.
HENDRICKS: My husband would help me, and then he would never let me live it down. Anytime I would forget to buy groceries he’d be like, “And what about the dead body?”
WHITMAN: You’d be playing Scrabble, he’d be like, C-A-D-A-V-E-R.
HENDRICKS: I’m calling you guys.
WHITMAN: We’ll be there.
On the show, Annie asks her kid, Sadie [Isaiah Stannard], about the worst thing they’ve ever done. So, what’s the worst thing you’ve ever done?
RETTA: I know mine. Stealing a crossword puzzle book, but I was young.
HENDRICKS: That’s the worst thing you’ve done?!
RETTA: Other than, like, having a crush on a friend’s boyfriend but never doing anything.
WHITMAN: Was it from a family business?
RETTA: No, it was at a grocery store when I was 10 or 11. My godmother made me take it back.
WHITMAN: I stole something once accidentally. I walked out of Limited Too with a slap bracelet on, and my mom made me take it back — but it was an accident. And I was horrified.
HENDRICKS: I’ve just stolen sh—. I never took it back. In high school I stole a pair of sunglasses, I stole a CD once. I was having a rebellious stage.
WHITMAN: I felt bad because I was rude to my aunt once when she bought me a present when I was, like, 6 years old and I was like, “I don’t want this.” I remember seeing her face fall and I truly was like, “I’m a bad person!”
RETTA: I stole quarters out of my dad’s bank, that was worse.
WHITMAN: [Gasps] That’s bad. Did he find out?
RETTA: Yeah, he noticed and I admitted it and he stopped giving me an allowance and I had to use the money that I had for my tithe.
Was the chemistry you three share always this natural? What was your first meeting like?
RETTA: Our first meeting was set up by our executive producers Jenna Bans and Dean Parisot. What was the name of the bar?
WHITMAN: Good Luck Bar.
RETTA: We met there for drinks and talked shop a bit, but instantly kind of got it. For me it was more of Christina being like, “Okay, I need you bitches to be my friends so, like, should we go elsewhere?”
HENDRICKS: We all went for Italian food and ate a lot and had a lot of fun, and then the restaurant was closing down and I was like, “Do you guys wanna just, like, come over?”
RETTA: I feel like I’m generally needy, so I don’t like to suggest stuff like “Should we hang out longer?” So when Christina said it, I was like, “Yeah, let’s go to your place!”
HENDRICKS: Everyone was totally game. There was no coaxing anyone.
WHITMAN: No, I was begging for it. I was going with her whether she wanted it or not. So we all went back to Christina’s and it’s a little hazy after that point…
RETTA: For you…
WHITMAN: Excuse me?!
HENDRICKS: No, for me as well.
WHITMAN: [To Retta] You were drunk.
RETTA: I feel like you’re trying to make me out to be…
WHITMAN: I’m the one who left my pants behind — there’s no making anyone else out to be worse than me in this story. [Laughs] I’m the one who walked out without my bra or my pants and without saying goodbye. I was like, “I’m going to go to the restroom,” and then walked out of the house.
HENDRICKS: She made a French exit. Super-French because it was without pants. She was gone for a little too long to be in the bathroom and I was looking around the house and then I went out to the street. I was like, “I just got this gig and I’ve lost my sister already!”
RETTA: And then we went back in the house and Christina goes, “Oh, her pants are still here.” I was like, “Well, then she couldn’t have left.”
WHITMAN: I stole sweatpants from Christina, that’s why.
HENDRICKS: But now the pants are missing. We can’t find the pants.
WHITMAN: Yeah, and they were good pants.
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