Navigating the terrain of uncoupling, regrouping, and slipping slowly into the madness that is divorce isn’t new territory for television. But Bravo’s first scripted series, “Girlfriends Guide to Divorce,” shines a new, and highly unflattering, light on the whole messy business.
The mere idea of this show seems overdone, campy, and just the slightest bit tired. But there’s something about the way this material is handled by both the writers and the engaging cast that makes “Girlfriends” a whole lot better than expected.
In case you haven’t yet discovered this midseason television gem, here are the top four reasons you should start tuning in immediately.
1. Lisa Edelstein and Janeane Garofalo
Since I first saw her go head-to-head with the indomitable Dr. House, I have been in love with the acerbic wit and vulnerable confidence Lisa Edelstein brings to her characters. And “Girlfriends’” Abby is no exception.
Edelstein is adorable, overwhelmed, and heartbroken as she gives us a glimpse into Abby’s inner workings while she struggles to stand on her own two stilettos. Add Garofalo to the mix and you have a bona fide home run. Yes, you still get the cynical emotional armor that is her trademark, but Garofalo is surprisingly tender as tough attorney Lyla.
2. Sandwiching the Serious Between Slices of Funny
As any successful dramedy can attest, you have to temper the deep stuff with opportunities to laugh – even if it’s sometimes through tears. In Episode Three, Abby spends her first night completely on her own and the roller coaster ride starts with her excitedly diving in to an adult-themed gift basket from her friends and dancing around the house in her skivvies. A bottle of wine later, she plummets to the depths of drunk dialing her friends while she sobs and admits she is “not good.”
In a surge of tears and anger, Abby decides to tackle a stubborn window she’s been struggling to un-stick without hubby’s help. Her success is tainted by the fact that the window slams down on her breasts, leaving her mostly naked and trapped on display in the window. Ridiculous for sure, but just the comic relief you need after her honest, ugly, heart wrenching spiral into despair.
3. Smells Like Teen Spirit
The juxtaposition of Abby’s teenage daughter and Abby’s own emotional turmoil is picture perfect. Going through divorce makes Abby question every decision she has made – from her foundering career to giving her ex the boot. And the raging anger and self-righteous attacks of her daughter are like the external expression of Abby’s own internal chaos.
The fight to remain a strong, in-control mom while her whole world is falling apart is beautifully rendered in the fragile relationship between mother and daughter. Lily’s antics and outbursts are exactly what’s expected from a teenage girl coming into her own. But when Abby finds herself acting out in similar fashion, the self-loathing and desperation are spellbinding. This portrait of a woman clinging to the last remnants of what she thought was her perfect family while trying to figure out who she is without it, is breathtaking and maybe a little too familiar to those of us who have been there.
4. The Eye Candy
One thing “Girlfriends” never fails to do is offer plenty of sculpted abs and handsome chins for our viewing pleasure. The fellas are easy on the eyes and it’s refreshing for once to see the guys offered up for ogling.
Nothing soothes the savage beast of divorce depression better than a nice pair of eyes and a set of tight buns that are just begging to be grabbed. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not into objectifying men simply for their six packs and broad shoulders, but there is definitely a time and place and this show is one of them. Even if you don’t love the trials and triumphs of the ladies in “Girlfriends,” you’re bound to fall in lust with its pretty parade of man-candy.
Do you appreciate shows that are willing to show the hard, ugly side of love, marriage, divorce, and everything in between?