DVD review: “Good Girls: Season One” (2018)
“Good Girls” (2019)
Created by: Jenna Bans
Featuring: Christina Hendricks, Retta, Mae Whitman, Reno Wilson, Manny Montana, Lidya Jewett, Isaiah Stannard and Matthew Lillard
Jane Boland: [narrating] “Girls today can be anything. CEO, Olympic gold medalist, even a Supreme Court Justice. We’ve finally broken that glass ceiling. And, wow, sure looks good from the top.”
“Good Girls” (2018-present) follows three suburban Michigan mothers, two of whom are sisters, who are having a hard time trying to make ends meet. They are tired of having everything taken away from them so they decide to pull off an unlikely heist by robbing a supermarket, only to discover that they’re in for more than they bargained. Their successful robbery attracts the attention of the store manager after he recognizes one of the women, but for a different reason altogether than just the money.
Generally network television doesn’t get much attention anymore as most of the trending and cool series are streaming, further from the pressures of supposed public decency, where TV is freer to be weird and dangerous. What a nice surprise it is, then, that there’s a show on network television that is daring and full of fun, that often feels as nervy as anything on HBO. That is there are precious few things but this new series is definitely worth a watch and is available now on DVD.
“Good Girls” definitely borrows from other series, but what it does with those revisited tropes feels fresh and exciting. The series, created by Jenna Bans, has a nice coil to it, tense enough that cliff-hanger endings land with a crack, but loose enough that there’s room for playfulness, for sweetness, for discursive ramble that the show’s three leads maneuver with natural charm.
Those performers are the major asset of Good Girls. Christina Hendricks takes the first-among-equals lead as Beth, a harried mother of four who realizes she maybe wouldst like to live deliciously as she takes a spin around the room with the devil. She’s the Walter White of the group, I guess, and Hendricks is great at communicating that dawning appetite for dark energy, the sudden conflict between Beth’s settled life and the one that until recently she never dared to imagine. Hendricks also has an irresistible chemistry with Manny Montana as a local gangster who becomes Beth’s main antagonizer and enticer. Their circling of one another, juggling threat and flirtation, is the stuff of perfect TV drama, sophisticated in its soapiness.WATCH NOW:
As Ruby, mother to an ailing daughter and the moral compass of the three women, Retta richly expands on her Parks and Recreationappeal, deftly crafting a complicated marital bond with Reno Wilson and managing all of Ruby’s gnawing, mounting worry with sharp humor. It’s a thrill watching an actor prove their range, and Retta would be on Emmy shortlists were there any justice in this world.
Mae Whitman rounds out the trio as Beth’s scrappy sister, Annie, a single mom with an anarchic streak that is sometimes the teensiest bit cartoony, the show’s most frequent indulgence. Otherwise, though, Whitman is just as dialed-in as the other two; when the three of them are together, bickering and negotiating and consoling, the show hums along. They get able support from Wilson, Montana (swoon), Zach Gilford, David Hornsby, Matthew Lillard (yes!!), and especially this season, Allison Tolman as another exhausted mother hip to the crimes being perpetrated and wanting her cut for staying quiet. It’s a really well-curated group of actors, all reveling in the clever contours of the writing.
Pilot: A Fine & Frugal grocery store is robbed by three masked women. Flashbacks show Beth Boland is a mother of four and her husband Dean owns a car dealership. Her sister Annie works at the Fine & Frugal and is a single mother. Her ex-husband Gregg plans to sue for custody of their child, Sadie, which she can’t afford. Their friend, Ruby, works as a waitress and is the mother of two children, one of whom is ill and needs expensive medication. Beth finds out Dean is having an affair, took out several mortgages and is about to lose their house. Desperate for money, the ladies rob the store and make away with an unexpected $500,000. Afterwards, Beth finds gang members in her house, lead by crime boss Rio. They were housing their money at the grocery and demand it back. The ladies attempt to recoup the money, but are short. Annie’s boss, Boomer, reveals he knows she committed the robbery due to recognizing her tattoo. He wants sexual favors in exchange for his silence. When he attempts to rape Annie, Beth overhears and angrily confronts him. When he threatens to go to the police, Beth attacks him and he falls through a glass table, lying motionless.
Mo Money, Mo Problems: Beth and Annie reveal to Ruby that they are holding Boomer captive in Beth’s backyard in the children’s tree-house. When the ladies meet at the diner to discuss how to pay the gang back, Rio tells them they have until the next day to pay them. Ruby comes up with a plan to ransom Boomer and get his wealthy grandmother Marion to pay. They attempt to break in, but discover that she is home. Pretending to be home helpers, they snoop around the apartment, but Beth refuses to steal. Rio and the gang show up the next day and the ladies try to appeal to him with antique figurines Annie stole from Marion. Upon seeing his violent reaction and fearing death, Beth makes an impassioned plea that saves their lives. Shortly afterwards, Boomer breaks out of the tree-house. When they find him, Annie takes a picture of his genitals and pretends to send the photo to her daughter. She threatens to go to the police if he exposes them. Later, Beth finds Rio in her backyard. He requests Beth’s help and asks if she and the ladies have passports.
Borderline: Beth explains to the ladies that Rio wants them to travel to Canada and bring a package back for him. In exchange, he will clear them of their debt. In need of a car, the ladies steal one from Dean’s dealership, unaware of Boomer following them. Once they get to Canada, the man who is supposed to give them the package refuses to do so. Ruby decides to scare him with Stan’s gun, but accidentally shoots him in the foot. After getting the package, they are pulled over at the border and subjected to a vehicle search. They pass the search and discover the package they obtained contains wrapping paper with counterfeit money printed inside. They bring the money to Rio’s warehouse and he tells them their debt is cleared. Later, Dean informs Beth that the cops have been notified about the car missing from his lot. The ladies decide to drown the car in a nearby lake. Later that night, Beth calls Rio for a private discussion.
Atom Bomb: Beth discovers one of Rio’s associates wounded in her daughter’s bed. Rio tells the ladies he will pay them if they let his friend hide out there. But upon waking up, the confused man leaves in a frenzy. Beth’s son wants a lavish birthday party and Dean promises him one. Ruby deals with a rude customer and, when he burns his hand on a skillet, is accused of neglect. Refusing to apologize, Ruby is fired. Sadie tells Annie that boys at school have been pulling her pants down, asking her “what she is”. Boomer takes his suspicions about the ladies to the FBI, who dismiss him. At the birthday party, Rio shows up and refuses to pay the ladies since they didn’t actually complete the task. Boomer, having dropped the cake off, runs into Rio. He takes a picture and sends it to the FBI. The ladies offer to clean Rio’s fake cash in exchange for 12.5% of the cut, to which he agrees. Dean tells Beth that he has cancer. Later, FBI Agent Turner shows up at Beth’s home with questions.
Taking Care of Business: FBI Agent Turner asks the Bolands if they have noticed any suspicious activity in the neighborhood and Beth says no. Shortly thereafter, bags of money that need to be cleaned show up in the trunks of the ladies’ cars. They meet with Rio and discuss their concerns about the FBI. He dismisses their worries and tells them they have to find a way to pay him back. The ladies execute their plan to buy a large amount of appliances with the fake cash. Annie meets an employee at the electronics store and has a one-night stand with him. He leaves in the middle of the night, taking her receipt with him. After tracking him to his apartment, the ladies discover he is married and he threw the receipt away to hide any evidence. The ladies weed through the trash and find the receipt. Agent Turner visits the Bolands again and shows Beth a picture of Rio. She initially denies knowing him, but says she will explain when her kids are not around. Ruby’s daughter has a seizure and they find out that she has not been taking her medication. Beth claims that she had a one-night stand with Rio to Agent Turner, explaining how she supposedly knows him.
A View from the Top: The FBI finds the car that the ladies ditched after their trip to Canada. Ruby thinks the ladies should quit the money laundering business and explain to Rio that they want out. However, at the meeting, Beth instead asks for more money to launder. The ladies bring in help to clean the money faster, using the cover of a secret shopper ring. Agent Turner visits Dean and tells him that Beth was the one who stole the car from his dealership. Dean covers for his wife, but confronts her about it and merely assumes she was taken advantage of by Rio. After Annie’s co-worker loses $20,000 worth of merchandise, the ladies have to steal the merchandise back so they aren’t short on their next payment. Ruby’s old boss stops by the house, alerting Stan to the fact that Ruby has been lying to him. She comes clean to Stan by showing him her cut of money and using the secret shopper scam as a cover. Boomer buys a large amount of drugs and plants them in Annie’s work locker. Annie comes clean to Marion about stealing from her, who only wants to know if she had a good reason. Beth tells Dean that she willingly agreed to the illegal work she did, fed up with his naive image of her.
Special Sauce: Dean confronts Beth over her actual work, but she refuses to give him any information. The ladies expand the secret shopper cover so they can clean the money even faster. The FBI picks up the gang member that previously stayed at the Boland’s and coerce him into helping with their case against Rio. Rio and his crew unexpectedly show up at Beth’s and reveal how fake bills were slipped in with the real cash. The ladies confess their secret shopper scam and Rio demands the name of the person who cheated him so he can “handle it”. Instead, the ladies devise a plan to catch the person. Annie gets arrested when she returns to work and discovers the drugs Boomer planted in her locker. The ladies figure out that single mom, Mary Pat, has been turning the fake money back in. She figures out the secret shopper cover is a scam and blackmails the ladies into giving her $10,000. Gregg and Annie unexpectedly bond and end up sleeping together. After giving Mary Pat the money she requested, she tells them that she wants that same amount every month going forward.
Shutdown: Beth realizes all the fake money she has been storing is missing. She meets with Rio, who tells her that he is temporarily shutting down his operation due to pressure from the FBI. The ladies are forced to return to their “old” lives for income. One month later, the ladies are short of their next payment to Mary Pat. At Sarah’s soccer game, Mary Pat spots Ruby and Stan and hints she will go to the police if she does not get paid. The ladies decide to commit another robbery to get the cash. Ruby finds out Sarah has been shoplifting at school and takes her to the local police station so she can be “scared straight”. After gleaning information from Nancy about her spas, the ladies each target a spa and make out a large amount of injectables. Upon failing to move the product, however, Beth confides in Dean about the situation. He takes the product to a doctor friend of his and is able to move the injectables. While visiting Stan at work, Ruby learns that Rio’s gang associate who stayed at the Boland’s is the one helping the police. She relays this information to the ladies, who contemplate what to do next.
Summer of the Shark: The ladies discuss telling Rio that his associate, Eddie, flipped on him to the FBI. When Rio asks them to pick up some trucks for him, the ladies are unsure. Ruby decides to get stoned with Stan and inquire if the cops know about the trucks. Assured that the police don’t know anything, the ladies go through with the plan and each drive off in a truck. However, Beth is pulled over and, believing she will be arrested, instructs the ladies to look after her kids. After seeing Mary Pat at the store and Annie paying for her groceries, Boomer gets more information on her. Later, he attends Mary Pat’s church and sparks a conversation with her, leading him back to her house. While alone, he sets up a recording device in her living room. Beth learns she was pulled over due to the truck not having a license plate, barely talking herself out of an arrest. She angrily confronts Rio, who reveals it was a test to see if she would talk to the cops. Beth lashes out at him, who then declares their partnership to be over. Convinced that Rio will kill them to cover his tracks, the ladies decide to flip on him.
Remix: While the ladies ponder ways to turn Rio in without incriminating themselves, Rio meets with Agent Turner and threatens him. With a kidney available for Sara, Ruby and Stan intentionally write a bad check. Later, Annie devises a plan to rob the grocery store again as a means to get the money for Ruby while also leading the FBI to Rio’s illegal business. This time, Annie stays on duty to help Ruby secure the cash. Annie is caught by Tyler, but she tells everyone he heroically saved her in exchange for his silence. Mary Pat finds the recording device Boomer planted in her house and goes to Beth, who tells her the type of person Boomer is. Dean carelessly gets into a car accident and, at the hospital, Beth finds out he lied about having cancer. She then sees on a nearby television that Rio has been arrested. Ruby pays for the kidney surgery and Stan confronts her about robbing the grocery store. Beth returns home to find Rio waiting for her, who was released on bail, and a beaten Dean at his side. He gives Beth a gun and tells her to pull the trigger if she wants to be “the boss”.