February 27, 2018

SHOWBUZZDAILY Series Premiere Review: “Good Girls”


GOOD GIRLS:  Monday 10PM on NBC – Potential DVR Alert

GOOD GIRLS is one of the more promising pilots of the broadcast season–even if it’s itching not to be a broadcast series.  Jenna Bans’ script is a #MeToo slant on Breaking Bad and Fun With Dick and Jane, and as that list may suggest, its opening hour is a bit of a tonal mess, but it’s got vitality, a top-notch cast and a compelling premise to pull it along.

The setting is a suburb of Detroit (although for tax reasons, the series is shot in Georgia), where a trio of friends all have money issues.  Beth (Christina Hendricks) has just discovered that her lousy car salesman husband Dean (the reliably slimy Matthew Lillard) isn’t just cheating on her, he’s run their household into bankruptcy; Beth’s sister Annie (Mae Whitman) is a single mom whose ex is fighting her for custody of their gender-fluid daughter; and Ruby (Retta) has a daughter who needs expensive kidney drugs that aren’t covered by her insurance.  What better solution for their problems than to rob the supermarket where Annie works?  Of course, things don’t go smoothly, and by the end of the pilot, they’ve learned that there’s a sinister reason they found much more money in the supermarket safe than they expected, and they’ve also faced off with a predator.

Bans is a ShondaLand veteran, and the women here are well-drawn and instantly likable, even if their respective crises are underlined with a blunt pen.  Hendricks, Retta and Whitman have between them been series regulars on some of the best TV series of the past decade, and they’re a constant pleasure to watch, both together and separately.  Where Bans and pilot director Dean Parisot falter a bit is in figuring out just how light or dark they want Good Girls to be.  Some sequences, including the robbery (complete with a wheezing, overweight security guard) are staged for good-natured comedy, while others suggest a much darker path for the characters.  It’s unclear how long the series will be able to balance those conflicting directions without needing to choose one or the other.  Good Girls also suffers from having to pull its content punches in order to fit within the constrains of broadcast Standards and Practices.

Good Girls may eventually fall into the gap between its desire to be cuddly and the violent consequences of its characters’ actions, but there’s enough potential here to justify giving it some time to pick its road.  In a network landscape filled with procedurals and soaps, it’s doing the right thing by gathering together some terrific talent toward ambitious ends.  That’s enough for a start.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."