DVD review: “Good Girls: Season Two” (2019)

“Good Girls: Season Two” (2019)

Television/Drama

Twelve Episodes

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.

Episodes:

I’d Rather Be Crafting: Beth must live with the fallout after her plan to get Rio arrested fails. Meanwhile, the women’s crimes finally catch up with them when evidence surfaces that puts them on a collision course with Agent Turner.

Slow Down, Children at Play: Rio forces Beth, Annie, and Ruby to solve a problem with a possible witness, which challenges the women’s morality. Meanwhile, Annie is in an awkward position with Greg and Nancy.

You Have Reached the Voicemail of Leslie Peterson: Tensions between the women, Boomer and Mary Pat reach a boiling point. Beth must intervene when Kenny gets in trouble at school.

Pick Your Poison: Beth’s personal interactions with Rio lead to a fracture with her sister, Annie; the affair between Annie and Greg comes to a head; Ruby seizes an illegal opportunity to pay off a debt.

Everything Must Go: Beth has to rely on Dean as Turner gets closer to the truth but instead of comfort, she finds a troubling secret about Dean when a past familiar face returns.

Take Off Your Pants: Beth and Dean experience growing pains settling into their new roles at work and at home. The women realize Rio has flipped his game yet again, as Turner targets Ruby and Stan.

The Dubby: When Rio gives her an assignment, Beth is forced to take her kids with her. Under pressure from Turner, Ruby crosses a line there’s no coming back from. Annie meets her new manager at Fine and Frugal.

Thelma and Louise: Beth and Ruby’s friendship fractures just as Dean’s vendetta against Rio compromises the women’s business dealings. Nancy, on the verge of giving birth, needs Annie’s help.

One Last Time: Stan faces the consequences for his role in Ruby’s criminal dealings; Dean gives Beth an ultimatum. Greg clashes with Annie’s new boyfriend.

This Land Is Your Land: With Beth determined to lead a new crime-free life, a desperate Ruby and Annie go behind her back to strike a new deal with Rio.

Hunting Season: Rio uses a series of unnerving tactics to remind Beth that it’s not as easy to walk away from his criminal enterprise as she’d like it to be. Annie learns something new about Noah; Ruby makes a reckless decision to save Stan.

Jeff: Mary Pat resurfaces in the women’s lives as they try to make sense of a shocking discovery Beth has made. Beth and Dean have an important family talk with the kids. Annie and Noah try to work through their problems.

King: Turner has Beth in checkmate; the women must contend with a rotten egg from the past. Rio makes a grand gesture for Beth. A new business opportunity presents itself.

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