Summer 2013 Review: Mistresses

7 Jun

The four mistressesMy first impression of the show was, wow, there’s trashy, and then there’s Mistresses.  Within thirty seconds in the show’s first episode, three of the four primary female characters are having sex (obviously there’s no nudity; this is a network show).  The credit sequence which appeared shortly after revealed that Mistresses was adapted from a foreign series, and I immediately assumed it was adapted from a British series, because this species of trash reeks of the United Kingdom, and I was correct.  I’ve never actually watched any of those trashy British soaps (Footballers’ Wives comes to mind, but I’m sure there’s tons more) but this seems like an Americanized version of what I think those shows are like.  You can tell it’s attempting to be provocative by the very name Mistresses, implying our main characters will be occupying the socially taboo position of sleeping with married gentlemen.

However, it’s not really as provocative as it seems to want you to think it is.  That opening scene is pretty much the last sex you get in the entire episode, as it gets all drama-y and soap-y.  Four women, in different stages of relationships, are all dealing with men, or the lack there of, and life in general.  Alyssa Milano’s Savannah is a high-powered lawyer who is having serious problems with her chef husband due to their inability to conceive, particularly when it turns out that it’s because of him rather than her.  Her younger free-spirited sister, the only actual mistress in the series’ present time, is a real estate agent sleeping around with her boss.  She faces a dilemma when the boss/lover offers to buy her a house when her lease is up.  Karen (Lost’s Yunjin Kim) is a psychologist, who spent a time as a mistress when she recently had a tempestuous affair with a patient who was dying.  At the funeral, which occurs soon after the opening credits, the dead man’s son comes to her and tells her that he suspects his dad was having an affair.  Oops.  The fourth character is April, a single mom who is still dealing with the death of her husband three years ago and is having difficulty trying to return to the dating world.  She’s taken aback at the end of the episode, when another woman brings to her door a young child which the woman claims is April’s ex-husband’s.

Like so many female-centered shows in the past decade, it’s definitely a show consciously taking place in the post-Sex and the City world, where four women support each other, work hard towards career goals, and gossip openly and proudly about each other’s sex lives.  It’s certainly trashier than the Sex and the City, but, as mentioned above, the first three minutes of the show offer a misleadingly trashy view of what’s to be expected.  Instead, it’s a soupy personal drama about the four women and it’s not particularly interesting.  There are light moments but there really isn’t any humor, or attempts at humor. It’s just a soap, and without any interesting hook or fun conspiracies to keep the plot humming along like Revenge.  It’s just women doing jobs and getting into relationship problems, and life. It’s hardly awful; it’s just incredible mundane.  There’s absolutely nothing that pulls you in and I’ll be surprised if I can remember anything other than that Alyssa Milano and Sun from Lost starred in it in six months.  It’s not that stories about people can’t be good in and of itself, or that soaps can’t be, but you need excellent writing, or humor, or a really enjoyable sense of fun, none of which Mistresses have.

Will I watch it again? No.  I knew more or less right away that there was no chance of me watching another episode, and nothing in the remainder of the episode changed that initial reaction.  I do think doubling down on maximum trashiness would have been preferable to just generic drama.

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