Monday, June 18, 2018

Pilot Review: American Woman

American Woman (Paramount)
Premiered June 7 at 10pm

There’s a wave of early feminism being showcased on television now, with series as diverse as “Good Girls Revolt,” “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” and “Good Girls” serving as call-outs to mostly fictionalized acts of defiance against institutional chauvinism. Not all have been hits, but this is clearly a hot subject these days. The newly-branded Paramount Network is launching a few shows at the moment, and this could well be its flagship comedy. There’s a lot that’s recognizable about this show, but its characters do make a distinct impression, particularly its protagonist, Bonnie, who drags her kids out at night to follow her husband and reveal his affair. This is the first starring vehicle for Alicia Silverstone since NBC’s short-lived “Miss Match” a whole fifteen years ago, and she is nothing if not determined to make her character memorable. I’m always happy to see Mena Suvari, the breakout star of “American Beauty” nearly two decades ago, and she does seem to have the second meatiest role on this show. I recognized Cheyenne Jackson from “Glee” as Kathleen’s closeted boyfriend and couldn’t peg James Tupper from “Men in Trees” as Bonnie’s worthless and apparently criminal husband. This show does seem invested in portraying its time period in an in-depth way, and it does commendably on that front. I haven’t yet decided if I’ll be back for another episode to see where it goes, but a half-hour show like this should be harmless enough and, as soon as I’m caught up on all my shows, I should have some time to give it another shot.

How will it work as a series? Bonnie didn’t waste any time in pursuing an official separation, and she seems attached more than anything to holding onto the house. The news that there’s an arrest warrant out for her husband changes the game, but something tells me it’s only going to make Bonnie more determined to seek out and prove her independence from her husband.
How long will it last? The reviews aren’t great, and the ratings are even worse from what I can tell. This show isn’t pulling in the audience it should be, and unless Paramount is especially committed to making this concept work since it’s hot right now, I think one season will be all this show gets.

Pilot grade: B-

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