My gut reaction to hearing about the new Bravo scripted series, Girlfriends' Guide To Divorce was to slam my fist down on my desk in exasperation that I wasn't hired to be one of the writers of the show!
Come on! Divorce is my thing. Never mind that I write about it almost every day on Divorced Girl Smiling, but the plots of both my novels, Free Gift With Purchase and Divorced Girl Smiling heavily include divorce.
So last week, I sat down and watched the premiere of Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce, trying to put my bitterness and jealously aside and be an unbiased critic. Here is my review:
Abby McCarthy is the best selling author of a self-help series who seems to have the perfect life: a cute husband, two great kids who attend a prestigious private school, a beautiful home, and all the money she needs.
But the truth is, her marriage is crumbling, and she and her husband, Jake are trying to hide it from everyone, including the kids. While Jake is already dating (and sleeping with women), Abby is desperately holding onto hope of saving the marriage. One night changes everything...
Abby's two new best girlfriends, Phoebe and Lyla (both divorced) take her out to a new club. There she meets the gorgeous, young manager of the place. In a predictable, but realistic storyline, she goes back to his apartment and sleeps with him. And when she gets home at 5 a.m., Jake goes ballistic. Their fight leads to the kids walking in and finding out their parent's marriage is over.
At her Barnes And Noble book signing the next day, Abby blows her cover of having the perfect life, telling the crowd she sometimes wishes her husband would die. The episode ends with her walking out of the store, probably relieved to have come clean, but in a way, broken.
Maybe the producers of Girlfriends Guide To Divorce missed out on a great writer (me), but they certainly got it right with the actors--every one of them. I remember Lisa Edelstein all the way back from Seinfeld. Just hilarious! And beautiful. Next, they went with Paul Adelstein, who was the pediatrician on Private Practice. Throw in Janeane Garafalo and Carrie Fisher and this cast really was top-notch.
What I Think
So, I have to admit, I was thoroughly captivated during the whole show, which might be because divorce is my business, but I don't think so. As far as pure entertainment value, I'd rank it up there with Grey's Anatomy (the early years), Desperate Housewives, and Lipstick Jungle.
Did it paint a realistic picture of divorce? At times, I think it did, even though it was greatly embellished for the purpose of entertainment (which it should be).
Scenes that included Abby and Phoebe's French kiss, Abby's vulnerability when sleeping with a much younger man, and Abby's girlfriends telling her that people saw Jake get a hotel room with a much younger woman made me realize that there are certain "givens" that typically happen during a separation and divorce. Not saying every newly separated woman goes out and kisses another girl, in fact, most probably don't. But, most DO have that first encounter (and many times it is with a younger man).
Very unrealistic: when Abby calls out "Jake" during sex with the younger guy. No way a separated woman would do that. Just wouldn't happen (in my opinion.)
Also, I could have done without the brother character--Abby runs into him in a coffee shop and is avoiding telling him about her divorce because he is so conservative. Who does that?! It's your brother! When I was getting divorced, I called my brother crying and seeking support. That seems more realistic to me.
There is one scene where a guy friend of Abby's says, "Marriage is forever. It's not like there was abuse or alcoholism." Abby then replies, "I'm sorry I disappointed you and that I wasn't abused." Very good writing.
I think my favorite scene was when Abby gets home at 5 a.m. and Jake is sitting at the kitchen table waiting. The fact that she slept with someone drives him nuts, even though he has been sleeping with several women. So, what does he do? He tries to have sex with her! Very realistic of what a man would do, in my opinion. But, I was so glad she didn't do it. She had just had sex with the younger guy an hour ago. That would have been kind of yucky. The scene was realistic in the sense that newly separated couples often go back and forth, indecisiveness every minute and things becoming explosive as the clock ticks.
I will look forward to watching Girlfriends' Guide To Divorce tonight (the show airs Tuesday nights on Bravo), and probably for the whole season. Not just because of my business, but I'm curious and I really care about Abby (which is a credit to Edelstein and the producers of the show).
It's funny. I once pitched both my novel, Free Gift With Purchase and my unpublished manuscript, I've Got Issues to a well-known movie producer. He said to me, "Divorce movies don't sell. No one wants to watch their divorce on TV or in a theatre. It's just too painful." Really? First of all, the guy is married (never divorced) so how did he know that? Secondly, he is out of the business now. Here is my answer to him:
Kramer Vs. Kramer, The War of the Roses, Bye Bye Love, An Unmarried Woman, Heartburn, Enough Said, and Crazy Stupid Love. All megahits, some even won Oscars.
Depending on how the season goes, Girlfriends' Guide To Divorce has the potential to be the next big divorce hit.
Jackie Pilossoph is the author of her blog, Divorced Girl Smiling, and the comedic divorce novels, Divorced Girl Smiling and Free Gift With Purchase. She also writes feature stories, along with the weekly dating and relationships column, "Love Essentially" for Sun-Times Media local publications. Pilossoph lives in Chicago. Oh, and she's divorced