‘Mistresses’ delivers summer silliness

By Rich Heldenfels
Beacon Journal popular culture writer

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ABC's Mistressesstars Yunjin Kim as Karen Kim, Rochelle Aytes as April Malloy, Jes Macallan as Josslyn Carver and Alyssa Milano as Savannah Savi Davis. (ABC/BOB D'AMICO)

In a wonderful example of making chicken droppings seem like chicken salad, ABC is proudly promoting the new series Mistresses as “13 weeks of seduction.”
That sounds a lot more positive than “13 weeks of episodes that weren’t good enough for our regular TV season but we need to run somewhere because we paid for them, so they’ll give us a little freshness in summer, but don’t expect any more.”

Sure, networks and cable program year-round and some shows are earmarked for summer, including the undercover-feds drama Graceland, which premieres at 10 p.m. Thursday on USA Network; the third season of The Killing, which has a two-hour premiere at 8 p.m. Sunday (June 2) on AMC; and adventure dramas Sinbad and Primeval: New World, at 9 and 10 p.m. Saturday (June 8) on Syfy.

But Mistresses, based on a British series and with stars including Alyssa Milano and Lost’s Yunjin Kim, looked as if it might have found a place among the glossy, women-targeting prime-time serials on ABC; in fact, its tone recalls Desperate Housewives, long a mainstay for the network. The series focuses on four women with different romantic entanglements, most of which unfold in the series premiere at 10:01 p.m. Monday. (Yes, 10:01.) Milano is a lawyer, married and trying to get pregnant with her husband — but that last effort is not going well, which affects their relationship. Kim is a therapist who has had an affair with a client whose death will draw her into his family’s struggles. Rochelle Aytes, widowed a few years ago, is still dealing with the loss — and mysterious phone calls. Then there’s Jes Macallan as Milano’s sister, a real-estate agent who easily pursues affairs, including one with her boss.

The show wants to be sexy and smart, but the premiere includes at least one plot thread that should have been resolved in five minutes. And whatever ABC thought it was getting with this show to begin with, the network now appears to have found compatible with another series that combines dramatics, tears, implausible narrative turns and characters’ complete lack of awareness of the irrationality of their behavior. And so it is that The Bachelorette will lead into Mistresses.

Rich Heldenfels writes about popular culture for the Beacon Journal and Ohio.com, including the HeldenFiles Online blog, www,ohio.com/blogs/heldenfiles. He is also on Facebook and Twitter. You can contact him at 330-996-3582 or rheldenfels@thebeaconjournal.com.


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