Good Girls Review – a gallows humour drama that you cannot resist loving

Crime, Torture, Gun Violence, Drugs, Money Laundering, Attempted Rape, Off-screen rape, Murder.

Season 1 and 2 only

I watched Good Girls pretty much blind, after a recommendation from a friend. And I am so glad I did. I have likened it to an all-female Breaking Bad, but I think it’s so much more than that. Yes, it has some similarities. The girls find themselves in a desperate situation where they need to turn to crime as a way out just as Walter White did. But unlike him, they have more of an awareness of why they are doing it, that doesn’t get lost. At least not yet.

There are many messages contained in Good Girls which are delightfully delicious. Our three main protagonists are Beth, her sister Annie and their long-time friend Ruby. Beth is the leader of the group in this show, who are being drawn in by a mysterious and new world of crime. We also have an enigmatic local gangster who offers danger as well as excitement, more so for Beth than the others. With Annie, she’s the screwed up kooky one, who has a lot of over-the-top grand schemes while working in a dead-end job. Ruby is the most cautious of the group, also working a shitty job while trying to pay for her daughter’s never-ending medical bills.

They picked an awesome cast for this show, with Christina Hendricks playing up the twinkle of darkness in her eyes. I have to say her chemistry on set with Manny Montana – the gangster – is enticing to watch. I am pleased that Retta is on the show, as I loved her in Parks and Recreation, and her acting chops really come into focus in Good Girls. She is the moral compass of the group, but deals with all the drama with an amazing wit and charm. Mae Whitman, as Annie, adds a bit of eccentricity to the already drama-filled show, but with a touch of vulnerability thrown in the works.

So it seems, with the casting, that Good Girls was already off to a good start. And the storylines just take it up a notch. Like Dead to Me, it is half crime drama and half a comedy with sharp execution. Finding themselves way over their heads on many occasions while their local gangster pushes them to the brink, these smart women find ways to deal with this new enterprise they have been thrust into. Good Girls does not shy away from any of the real drama even if it hits with a side of gallows humour. When people are in danger, the threat feels very real. It does a fantastic job of keeping you guessing about what is coming next, sometimes you forget that this is just a show as you become more and more invested in the characters and their story.

And if you are someone like me, you will love how it deals with the questions and complications of women that just want it all. We see this most clearly in Beth who wants to be the mother but who, once she has a taste of power, wants to command that too. She walks a tightrope of being a mother and a boss that is fraught with difficulties and pressures coming from within her family and outsiders. Ruby is fraught with whether she must protect family or friends when their fates become at odds with one another. And Annie is struggling to deal with the men in her life, while trying to support her child.

I have to say I was really impressed with how they portrayed transgender dynamics in Good Girls. Like many depictions of seemingly “new identities” are often used in such a way that often “others” those identities. But with Good Girls, it is treated with respect and dignity. In fact, the reveal is done in a very beautiful and touching scene that normalizes what should be thought of as a very normal thing. There is no real “aha” moment and it does not lead the story as it would in other shows, but adds more depth to Annie and her child’s relationship that is beautiful to see. It is so subtle in the show, you might be forgiven for missing it. I am hoping that others will follow the lead from this show in trans representation.

If you are a fan of Breaking Bad and Desperate Housewives, Good Girls will scratch this itch that has been missing from television.

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