Sunday, 17 January 2021

The Starter Wife: Brain candy with heart

The Starter Wife commercials on the USA network have been so insistent about the heroine's choice for the final episode, which airs Thursday night – will Molly take up with Sam or Lou?


As a Hollywood starter wife – the one who gets dumped for someone glitzier when her husband achieves mogul status – Molly's been spending some time in Malibu. She's dated both guys: Sam, a former investment broker who is now homeless and doing what looks like lifelong penance for a death he caused, and Lou, an even bigger mogul than Molly's ex. Lou is a bit of a nut case, faking suicide and then attending his own funeral in drag to find out who his real friends are.


Why am I watching this brain candy, you ask? For one thing, we all need a bit of silliness, and it's only six episodes. For a few others, Debra Messing stars as Molly, I enjoy looking at rich people's houses, and I lived in Malibu for a few years before it was totally populated by moguls, so I think I sort of know these people. Call it nostalgia.


In the opening episode, Molly wakes up to a call from her husband, who wants that dog poop cleaned up right now, and apparently doesn't know how to tell the maid himself. It's very 1960s, full of wives who devote their days and nights to keeping their houses perfect and husbands comfortable and husbands who devote their spare time to affairs.


Everything's very materialistic and shallow until Molly moves into a friend's beach house in Malibu Colony, which has been accurately called “the world's most expensive ghetto”. She's lonely, so she makes friends with the young black woman on duty at the colony guardhouse. Pretty soon, she's surrounded by normal folks with normal problems, and filled with empathy and compassion.


And faced with this decision: sweetie Sam or troubled Lou? A roofless camp in the palm trees or three houses plus a flat in Paris?


You know what? I'm betting on neither. There have been hints that she knows how to take care of herself and has some talents. She just might strike out on her own, exploring the newly independent self she has discovered. Wouldn't that be a kick?


Trivia:


  • In the book by Gigi Levangie Grazer, the Molly character is called Gracie. That would be a bit repetitious for Messing after her long starring role in “Will and Grace.”

  • Gossip columns are reporting that Grazer and her mogul husband, Brian Grazer, have separated. Again.

  • On the show's message board, they're a lot more concerned about whether it will become a series than about which guy Molly will choose. And they love Joe Mantegna, who plays Lou.

  • The Pond's “product placements” just might ensure I never buy their products again.

  • Judy Davis is great as a sneaky alcoholic.

E-mail Sophie Annan Jensen at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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