Netflix’s GOOD GIRLS Season 1 Is ‘Ocean’s Eight’ For TV
Good Girls is a heist/crime Netflix series that makes the most of a fantastic cast, good dramatic storylines, and a thrilling heist plot to give the 10 episodes plenty of content to work with. The series follows three mothers, Beth (Christina Hendricks), Annie (Mae Whitman), and Ruby (Retta) who all find themselves desperately in need of money and decide to remedy their troubles by turning to crime.
There is a tonne of fun to be had with this seriously dramatic but at the same time self-aware heist series. It plays out like a typical crime/heist storyline but being spread over nearly 8 hours opens the doors to go deeper into the characters’ personal lives and really flesh them out. That’s were this series comes with its greatest strengths, the lead characters, and the three brilliant performances behind them. Christina Hendricks, Mae Whitman, and Retta are great as the three mothers who risk it all for the sake of their families. The chemistry between the three of them is so upbeat, fun, and real that when they’re all together it’s an absolute joy watching them clash and just go back and forth in conversation. Right from the pilot episode they do a good job at getting you on the side of these mothers so you are instantly hooked in their stories and the little ‘Ocean’s Three’ operation they have going on. Even when they do part and we focus on each of the character’s separately I was still wholly invested in their story because of how much energy and realism the three of them bring to their roles.
With a lead trio of characters it would be very easy to throw basic descriptions on these women playing into cliche caricatures but that isn’t the case here. Yes, Ruby may bring the majority of the jokes and Beth may be the one who is the most straight-forward and committed to the cause but they each do their part for both the humour and the drama. Hendricks, Whitman, and Retta give it their all and it shows in their quick, witty delivery of comedy and the effectiveness of their more emotional scenes.
The thing I loved most about this show is it knew when to approach the heist/crime elements with a certain level of seriousness and when to just take some liberties and have some fun. If you are looking for a crime series embedded in reality then this isn’t for you. Some of what happens in the heist elements may be a little farfetched… or actually very farfetched, but Good Girls isn’t trying to be something it’s not. It has just enough of a dark and serious tone to sell the situation these girls are in, but once they’re there it lets loose and just has fun with the idea that three mothers can commit crimes better than most experienced criminals. The downside of a number of heist/crime stories is when they try to give the characters a fulfilling and engaging personal journey because it’s very often not all that effective. Here though, each of the girls’ family drama side-plots are emotionally effective and almost just as intriguing as the main heist plot. By no means do they overshadow the crime element of the show, in fact, they enhance the main plot by giving each of the lead characters a reason and motivation for their actions and mindsets. Some of the decisions they make would seem ludicrous without being able to understand the at-home reasons behind them, so nearly every character centric scene has a reason behind it.
Alongside the lead trio is an array of supporting characters, some of which are really well integrated into the story and the performances behind them are good. But there are a couple here and there that maybe don’t fit in as well. Matthew Lillard and Reno Wilson play husbands to Beth and Ruby respectively and I really enjoyed both of their characters. They’re the people closest to their respective leads and they share some of the most emotionally impactful scenes of the movie. That’s the same with Izy Stannard who plays the daughter of Mae Whitman as the two of them share what is probably the strongest emotional bond of the season. Rio (Manny Montana), the face of the crime organisation is a strong character who is handled really well. He is fleshed out enough to understand a little about his character but not so much to where he would lose his intimidating stature. Then you have a character such as Boomer, played well by David Hornsby, but who is undeniably frustrating for every moment he’s on screen. This frustration I will admit is in part due to the nature of the character but I do feel like he absolutely overstayed his welcome. I just don’t like how he is kept around and used through his own story arc as it isn’t the most interesting or necessary story being told.
In the end, Good Girls is a thoroughly enjoyable series that knows exactly when to draw you in with a thrilling crime story and when to keep you around with the entertaining antics of three rebellious mothers. The shows biggest strength is the three lead performances from Hendricks, Whitman, and Retta who are all fantastic and share a chemistry that is just so much fun to watch. For anyone looking for an easy show to stream on Netflix that’s fun and engaging without having to pour all your mind into it then this is it. It’s accompanied by some great music choices that play over crime/heist montages to keep the tone very light and upbeat and does not disappoint.