Not your typical Beverly Hills housewife
American Woman might be inspired by the early life of Bravo personality Kyle Richards, but there’s nothing typically housewife-y about the new, sassy dramedy starring Alicia Silverstone, Mena Suvari, Jennifer Bartels, and Cheyenne Jackson. EW has an exclusive first look at the 1970s-set series, which follows Bonnie Nolan (Silverstone), a mother tasked with making ends meet for herself and two children after leaving her husband and discovering her own independence against the backdrop of the women’s lib movement. Click through for EW’s full sneak peek ahead of the show’s June 7 premiere on the Paramount Network.
Alicia Silverstone as Bonnie Nolan
“I play the American Woman, Bonnie Nolan, and she’s a firecracker of a woman. She’s a trailblazer of her time… the period is so vibrant,” Silverstone previously told EW of the upcoming show. “Sex is oozing out, and everything [for women’s liberation] is bubbling up; they’re burning their bras, and two years before our story [takes place] was Roe v. Wade… One of our teases is ‘Liberation is a bitch.’ [We’re observing] liberation, and then [asking]: How do you deal with it?”
Silverstone with James Tupper
Bonnie comes into her own after learning to ease up on middle class privileges. That means getting rid of the hired help (she releases a housekeeper so she can forge a closer bond with her children) and taking the reins of her life at all costs — even if it gets messy in the process. “Bonnie is sort of a trophy wife. Her job is to be the mommy… she’s a devoted mother and spends her day looking beautiful for her husband when he comes home. That’s what she chose to do. She’s a Beverly Hills woman in a sexy time, but then something happens and everything goes wrong,” explains Silverstone. “Even though she’s a trophy wife, she’s smart and feisty, but once she’s crossed, be careful. She’s really dangerous and incredibly unpredictable. That’s what I love: She’s complex…. There’s relief watching her. Because this woman loves her kids ferociously, but she’s also really reckless and does really bad things. She’s a contradiction: she’s a wild, ferocious creature, and she’s a badass, but she’s also terrified underneath.”
Mena Suvari as Kathleen
American Beauty star Mena Suvari portrays one of Bonnie’s best friends, Kathleen, who plays a key role in shaping a sisterly bond that shepherds the former through dark times. “Women couldn’t even get a loan without a man,” Silverstone observes of the period. “Women still haven’t found equal footing, 40 years later…. We’re still talking about equal pay and [asking] how sexy women are allowed to be. Even though we’ve come a long way, it’s cool to see where some of this [liberation] started [with this show].”
Suvari and Jackson serving '70's-inspired looks
While the drama is to die for, Silverstone hopes audiences are similarly titilated by the period piece’s aesthetics. “You’re going to be excited and turned on by the period, [with] the clothes, the music, the hair, and the jewels,” she exclaims.
Jackson as Greg
While American Woman lifts key elements from Richards’ life, Silverstone stresses that the narrative (and characters) are an amalgam of motherly inspiration from various sources, including maternal figures from the lives of co-creators John Riggi (30 Rock) and John Wells (Shameless). “A lot of the stories that you’ll see are things that happened to Kyle Richards and her mother, but a lot of it isn’t; it’s taking dramatic license, but the storytelling is so good,” she notes. “My character is inspired by Kyle Richards’ mother, but she’s also inspired by our creator John Riggi’s mom. Like any art form, it then became about everybody’s mom. John Wells, the producer, it’s about his mom, and I used my mom as inspiration. Bonnie is this collective [mother].”