The most frustrating part of life can oftentimes be not having enough money to pay our bills or take that much-needed vacation from our mundane jobs that we go to every day. The fantasy of just robbing a bank or looting some rich snob's house is a passing thought because we know it's not the right way to go about solving the problem. For the new show Good Girls from NBC their stakes are way higher and this fantasy idea becomes a practical reality in this week's Pilot.
From creator Jenna Bans (writer for Scandal and Grey's Anatomy) comes three moms who decide that they are tired of life beating them down so it's time to better themselves even if it means breaking the law. First, there's Beth Boland (Christina Hendricks) who is the mother of four kids that spends her days packing lunches and keeping her household together while her husband Dean runs a car dealership. Her sister, Annie (Mae Whitman) is a single mom who works at a local grocery store called Fine & Frugal (best name for a market ever), where she makes crap pay, drives an even crappier car, and has to deal with her asshat of a boss Boomer (David Hornsby) who makes her shifts miserable. Finally, we round out the group with Ruby Hill (Retta) a loving mother and wife to a mall-cop husband (Reno Wilson) that just tries her best to care for their sick daughter who walks around with an oxygen tank because she has a kidney disease. And unfortunately, things are about to get a whole lot worse.
Beth finds out Dean is cheating on her with some bimbo at his dealership, Annie is being taken to court by her ex who wants custody of their daughter, and Ruby's little girl needs an experimental drug to help with her rapidly failing health. All of these factors contribute to one conversation the three ladies have where Annie mentions the 30K she knows is in the vault at her work. It seemed like an insane idea at first, but when Beth discovers that Dean has mismanaged all their finances and they could lose their house-its game on. They do some reconnaissance of the store's security system and grab some plastic guns from their kid's toybox to use as weapons. It's obviously a very amateurish attempt at a robbery but considering the place they have chosen, it's not far-fetched for them to pull this off.
The easy comparisons to this idea are Breaking Bad meets Thelma and Louise but the former is such a darker take that it shouldn't allow people to simply think this is a female version. The three actresses have fantastic chemistry together and you get a sense of their history even without any mentions of past hijinks or flashbacks to when they were younger. Even though they don't agree on everything, there is a strong bond of love that shows how much they care about the bad circumstances each one of them is in. Ruby comforts a crying Beth when she finds out Dean is cheating on her and Beth is sympathetic to Annie when she informs her about the lawsuit. Good Girls does not work from the beginning if the audience doesn't feel it is absolutely necessary for these women to break the law and not just be greedy and lazy. We see how they are pushed into a position where they really have no other options to get out of their situations and don't intend on becoming career criminals.
One of the things I was most happy about is that the writers didn't milk the series for several episodes before getting to the actual robbery. We know it's going to happen so let's just deal with the fallout instead of trying to build suspense with planning the heist. The results of them stealing the money turn out to be a bigger problem than just avoiding prison as the grocery store has been laundering cash for some local criminals and they are not happy about the mom's ripping them off. A show about three women just spending money doesn't sound that interesting so there had to be some form of consequences for them to deal with.
With the talent that has been chosen for this show, I wasn't surprised at all by the great performances by all three actresses. Hendricks comes in with this docile and pleasant homemaker but turns on the fire when she learns of her husband's affair. She comes in and takes charge of her marriage and children because her husband has failed them. Retta is the one who really pulls the heartstrings throughout the pilot as she keeps trying to get better health care for her daughter. There's a scene in the Medicaid office where she comes to tears from her frustration of dealing with the doctors and it's all the justification we need for her to agree with the robbery. Mae Whitman is the main force behind this group as her character Annie is the one who not only works at the grocery store but is the first with the idea. Even though Beth seems to be the smarter and more grounded individual, Annie's younger and more rebellious attitude gives the women confidence that they can pull this off. Annie has a great love for her daughter and she plays their relationship similar to the best friends dynamic that made Gilmore Girls work. Guess she learned something from her former Parenthood mother Lauren Graham. The only bad side is, she is reckless with her cut of the money BECAUSE of her desire to give her daughter a better life.
Good Girls isn't perfect but it's sure a lot of fun. Watching the three mom's take charge of their lives and do what they need to for their families is hard to argue with. We're not supposed to encourage people committing robberies is the answer, but considering this is a fictional story the writers give us enough to go along with it. The robbery is done very sloppily and it already has repercussions instantly but isn't that how it's supposed to happen? When the security guard comes back to the store from his lunch the buffoonery that entails with the women trying to make a getaway took me back to a similar scene in the film Raising Arizona.
With a consistent mix of drama and humor if Good Girls can keep this level of entertainment going I look forward to what other troubles these ladies get into on NBC. What did you all think of the show? Do you have a favorite bank robbing mom? Did any of you buy the ladies desperation to rob the store?