I don’t know why I decided to watch the first episode of this show. Okay, that’s a lie. I watched it because of Alyssa Milano, who was one of my childhood celebrity crushes (Who’s The Boss, baby!). Anyway, so I watched it. It’s an hour-long drama about 4 female friends. Milano stars as Savannah Davis, a lawyer who appears to be happily married to a Chef named Harry (the opening scene has them role-playing as strangers who meet in a bar and then go to a hotel room for sex). Jes Macallan plays Savannah’s younger sister, Josslyn, a real estate agent. Yunjin Kim plays their friend Karen, a psychiatrist, and rounding out the main cast is Rochelle Aytes as April, a young widow who is raising her daughter alone.
The film quickly establishes the dynamics of each character. Savannah is devoted to her husband, despite some casual flirting at work with her fellow lawyer Dominic (Jason Winston George), but they’re both feeling a little pressure, as they’ve been trying to have a baby, with no success. When a trip to the doctor reveals that the problem with conceiving is on Harry’s side, he becomes angry and distant towards Savannah, which leads her to make the rash decision to give into Dominic and they have sex in her office.
Josslyn is single and carefree. I read a preview for this series in T.V. Guide which described her character as a “nymphomaniac”. I don’t know if that reviewer saw something in advance to make that judgment, but based on this first episode that seems unfair. She enjoys sex and has no interest in settling down into a relationship or marriage right now. What’s wrong with that? Calling that nymphomania right now seems like sexist double-standard. Anyway, her main problem is fending off suitors who want to be with her more than she wants.
We learn that Karen had been having an affair with one of her patients, a man named Thomas (John Schneider), who was terminally ill. She was in love with him and, at his request, prescribed him enough Morphine so that he could kill himself before his unnamed disease did it to him. At Thomas’ funeral, she meets his widow Elizabeth (Penelope Ann Miller) and his son, Sam (Erik Stocklin). Sam corners her with his suspicion that his father was having an affair with another woman, and wants to talk to Karen about it. Karen tries to avoid him, as later he repeatedly calls her, and even shows up at her home, but finds herself compelled to talk to him, eventually agreeing to become his psychiatrist too.
April, at her friends urging, agrees to date a single father named Richard (Cameron Bender) that she meets at her daughter’s birthday party, but finds it hard because she hasn’t completely gotten over the death of her husband (the circumstances of which have yet to be revealed). But just as she thinks she’s ready, she’s confronted by a mysterious woman, who claims that she was April’s husband’s lover and has a young son with him. So that sets the stage for the next episode, and the rest of this series, which I read is planned for 12 more episodes this season.
It was a decent “first episode”, I feel caught up enough to understand the characters, while leaving plenty of mystery about them that can be filled in later. I was impressed with the “colorblind” casting of the show, several of the pairings between the women and men on this show are “interracial”, but no one made an issue of that in this episode, and I will be curious to see if they continue to write it this way. That won’t be easy. There was a preview at the end, showing events from the rest of the season. Savannah gets pregnant, and since she and her husband are White, while Dominic is Black, she will have to confront the possibility of Dominic being the father and that not being something that she could hide.
Other scenes from future episodes showed Josslyn kissing another woman, Karen kissing Sam, and April talking to his dead husband’s ex-mistress. I have to say that, based on the rather provocative title and the promos, I was expected this show to be a lot “sleazier,” like a raunchy daytime soap opera. But it’s really not that wilder than most nighttime dramas on TV these days, although I suppose that could change as the series progresses. The jury’s still out on that, we’ll have to wait and see. And, based on this pilot, I think I will be back next week, to see what happens. All of the women in the lead, especially Milano, were very good in their roles, and the writing, by creator K. J. Steinberg, was solid. Overall, I will grade this episode: A
MISTRESSES airs Monday Nights @ 10pm on ABC
You can also watch episodes online via http://beta.abc.go.com/shows/mistresses