If you’ve managed to sit through any of Bravo’s “Real Housewives” shows, you might want to take issue with the channel’s claim that “Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce” is its first original scripted series.
The new show, created by the very talented Marti Noxon and premiering Tuesday, reads, feels, looks and smells just like one of the “Housewives” series. Despite the fact that it has moments of humor and credible drama, it simply tries too hard and is too narrowly focused on people you wouldn’t want to spent 10 minutes with, much less a whole hour.
Abby McCarthy (Lisa Edelstein, “House”) is the successful author of self-help books whose marketing campaign is built around her being a model of a contemporary woman with a thriving professional career, a perfect marriage and a beautiful family.
In fact, she and husband Jake (Paul Adelstein, “Private Practice”) are separated, although he drags himself home every night smelling of other women as he climbs into bed next to his wife because they don’t want the kids to know.
Doesn’t take long for the kids, and the whole world, to know, and Abby seems beyond help, the self variety or any other, except from her two besties, lawyer Lyla (Janeane Garofalo, “Reality Bites”) and former model Phoebe (Beau Garrett, “Criminal Minds”).
Not unexpectedly, “Girlfriends’ Guide” becomes a sequel to “Sex and the City” with the three women lunching, drinking, going out together, trading candid stories about their lives, and Lyla and Phoebe trying to help Abby put her life back together again and to put herself out on the dating scene.
Throw in a little bit of “First Wives Club” and you have an idea of the pervasive and abrasive cynicism that often makes “Guide” hard to watch.
The other problem is one that Hollywood has way too often, in both film and TV: It doesn’t get that everyday life and values in Hollywood are alien if not off-putting to the rest of the world. Sure, it may be interesting as you flip through the pages of a scandal sheet while waiting for the dentist to take you, but who wants an intimate relationship with any of the people you'll see in “Guide?”
Lyla gets revenge on her ex-husband by liquoring him up, going to bed with him and then calling the cops to alert them to a drunk driver after he leaves the house. Phoebe literally sleeps with her husband for money.
On top of all that, the women just explode with arch, clever dialogue at every moment, talking loudly over and on top of each other to the point where you look at your Aleve bottle and wonder, are two pills really enough?
Bravo probably thought it was brilliant to greenlight a scripted show that was so imitative of its so-called reality shows, but it comes off as incestuous, off-putting and flat-out redundant.
What’s really irritating about the show is that it’s not entirely bad and you want there to be more of the good parts.