‘Good Girls’ has great cast but weak plot

 NBC's new show "Good Girls" follows three moms struggling through various life challenges: a sick daughter, an affair and a custody lawsuit. Things get so desperate for the women that they turn a joke about robbing a grocery store into a reality in order to provide for their families financially. (Photo courtesy of  Ty DeMartino's Twitter )

NBC's new show "Good Girls" follows three moms struggling through various life challenges: a sick daughter, an affair and a custody lawsuit. Things get so desperate for the women that they turn a joke about robbing a grocery store into a reality in order to provide for their families financially. (Photo courtesy of Ty DeMartino's Twitter)

If for whatever reason you were looking specifically for a crime comedy-drama, NBC has you covered with its new series “Good Girls”. The show follows three moms struggling through various life challenges: a sick daughter, an affair and a custody lawsuit. Things get so desperate for the women that they turn a joke about robbing a grocery store into a reality in order to provide for their families financially.

Executive producer Jenna Bans, also connected to such shows as “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal”, handpicked an all-star cast of leading ladies to convey the frustrated mothers. The list includes Christina Hendricks of “Mad Men” fame as Beth Boland, Mae Whitman from “Parenthood” and “Arrested Development” as her sister Annie Marks and Retta from “Parks and Recreation”.

“I’ve obviously gotten great gigs in the last couple of years, but generally, it was (playing) a receptionist or a meter maid or the nurse,” Retta said. “I was always aiding or helping someone else — or at least that’s what I was offered. And then, when Jenna asked me to do this, I was like, ‘Holy (expletive)! I get to be a person.’ It was the first time I felt I got to play a person with love in her life ... who, outside of dealing with the problems of her sick child, is happy. And that’s nice.”

Other familiar names that make an appearance include Matthew Lillard (yes, that’s right, Shaggy from “Scooby Doo” and he didn’t age well) as Beth’s husband Dean and Zach Gilford from “Friday Night Lights” as Annie’s ex.

After the pilot, it’s still not clear how producers plan on making what would’ve been a great movie plot into an entire episodic series. The first episode alone progressed far too quickly, introducing a lot of characters and relationships without much explanation. Without any spoilers, the women go from joking about robbing a store to actually robbing the store in a week and to getting involved with a gang in even less time. The concept itself is new and interesting, but doesn’t seem like it will hold for the entirety of a series.

The storylines of the individual characters are heartwarming and the primarily female dynamic is refreshing (it certainly passes the Bechdel test).

“(Its) incredibly genuine, and it feels so natural when you read a script, when you say the lines and they just come out and flow out of your mouth. It feels like real people,” Hendricks said. “The words are real. The emotions are real. The tone is tricky. We do go from very, very serious stuff into funny things, and we just try to make sure that we honor what Jenna’s written and that we play every moment as real.”

But the comedy is weak. Aside from a few snickers, it didn’t get any major laughs from me. A lot of it was a little awkward and uncomfortable, to put it nicely.

“Good Girls” was, however lighthearted, very current in its representation of some difficult topics. It depicted a child exploring their identity, sexual abuse and very honest relationships. It was graphic, at times, but the younger cast members, especially Mae Whitman, handled themselves well.

“One thing I really loved about the show right away: it brings up the question of morals and justification, and what is good and what’s evil ... and what would you do, how far would you go to protect your family, and what are the intentions behind these characters’ motives in doing what they do,” Whitman said. “I look forward to reading every single script, because there’s something in there that brings up a real question that’s really a debatable situation.”

“Because of the tone of the show, it definitely leans into the fun and the comedy and the chemistry between these three women,” Bans said. “There really hasn’t been anything that was deemed too ‘not network’ for us to do. I think we sort of pushed the envelope and, at the same time, really fit into our little unique tone and little unique space we sort of carved out for ourselves. We’re kind of our own unique animal.”

While the first episode was nothing special and leaves a bit to be desired, the rest of the series shows promise and will be interesting to pay attention to over the next few weeks.

“Good Girls” airs on NBC every Monday at 10 p.m.

Rating: 3/5


Julia Mancini is the associate life editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at Julia.mancini@uconn.edu.