Good Girls is the network television version of the suburban gangster subgenre popularized in the mid-2000s. The mix of comedy and drama leans far more Weeds than Breaking Bad, but it is certainly one of the tamest spins on the “domestic gone dangerous” story. Still, Good Girls has been one of the few broadcast series I’ve watched since the reign of streaming began. Season one provided a fresh, serialized dramedy with three relatable leads, and explored the theme of domestic boredom with clever results. Season two upped the ante, delivering more complex storytelling and featured a sophisticated handling of a transgender youth storyline. Season three is, uh, fine.
If there is one thing I have always appreciated about Good Girls it is the criminal incompetence of the characters. That is not to say that any of the characters are unintelligent—well, maybe Annie—but they definitely do not know what they are doing. At every turn, they make mistakes and dig themselves deeper into trouble. Though this might prove frustrating for some viewers, especially those with Law & Order degrees, it provides the show a sense of grounding that you do not see in many other similar shows where everyone is suddenly a criminal mastermind after one episode. The issue that is presenting itself as the show progresses through its third season, though, is that the characters do not seem to learn much from their mistakes. Because of this, none of the three leads seem to be progressing as characters. Based on their experiences, they should all be in much different places than when we first met them, but if you watched an episode from this season and compared it with the first, they would all appear pretty similarly. More than any character, Ruby’s husband, Stan, had the most character development this season. As he learns to accept that he and his wife cannot escape their choices, the former cop dives deeper into the criminal lifestyle. This is great for Stan, but he is not one of the three characters we should connect with the most.
The biggest frustration with the season is that it is hard to distinguish from previous episodes. The storylines here are pretty much the same that we have seen so far. Beth and Dean still have marital issues. Annie still makes decisions far less mature than her precocious transgender son, Ben. Rio’s control over Beth, though slightly increasing in intensity, does not have any new dynamics. Even some of the new elements feel repetitive. Annie’s season three love interest, a play therapist, is another guy with whom Annie feels inferior. Dean’s boss introduces us to yet another infidelity storyline to Beth’s marriage. You get the point. Overall, the season suffers from static storytelling that constrains the potential introduced in the show’s first two seasons.
- Retta still deserves more praise for her performance as Ruby. She brings the most comedic experience to the table, and also showcases her dramatic range with aplomb. (I just wanted an excuse to use that word.)
- Charlyne Yi makes a welcome appearance as a quirky co-worker, but her appearance is short-lived, and she is replaced by two detectives that are just not interesting.
The Final Tea
Now, to be fair, this review would certainly read differently if the season had been able to air in its entirety. Due to the ongoing pandemic (stay inside, kids), five episodes were unable to finish production. Perhaps the last set of stories would have injected the season with a surge of dynamic energy. For now, here’s to hoping season four provides a welcome recharge.