This review is spoiler-free, but does touch on some key narratives and plot points
Good Girls fumbles the bag in it’s third season, but still manages to pull off the greatest heist of them all; keeping us invested in its characters if not its storyline.
The third season opens with visuals of idyllic sense of a return to normality, the type of the suburban monotony where a missing cat makes the front page and annual bake sales represent the feverish peak of neighbourhood tension. To none of our surprise, this doesn’t last long (it never does). The picture painted on the screen is in stark contrast to the words in the backdrop. Before an image even comes into focus we hear Beth’s voice (Christina Hendricks) narrating us through the momentous event that happened at the end of Season 2, her unloading three bullets right into her crime boss and love interest, Rio (Manny Montoya) and watching “the light go out”.
This quickly establishes a new status quo, gone are the days of amateur grocery store robbers, our girls are full-time criminals and everything they do now is in service of that life. Courtesy of the dollar bills that Annie (Mia Whitman) has acquired through a valeting gig, nail polish that Ruby (Retta) has been stealing from the nail parlour she works at and some printing plates Beth (somehow) got ahold of, the girls have almost perfected the art of making counterfeit money; and with it, the thing that they have so desperately craved since their first foray into crime… control.
The tone of this season is a lot darker and unlike the seasons before it, the darkness isn’t something the girls are trying to escape from, it is what they are. Whether they admit it to themselves or not, they’ve become a void that sucks the innocence out of everyone around them.
“One of us is supposed to be good”
Dying On The Hill. Little to nothing is known about the values that Beth and Annie held before they began embarking on their life of crime, but the same cannot be said about Ruby. The Hill family are about as good as it gets, God-fearing, in attendance at church every Sunday without fail, well-mannered kids and infectious rap/singing duets *Alexa play Nelly “Hot In Herre*, there’s literally nothing not to like about them, but things are changing. This time around we meet Ruby’s husband, Stan (or ‘Stanimal’ as he’s become known as), in an entirely different setting than we’ve become accustomed to. Instead of standing up tall in his police uniform, he’s hunched over a plate of food in ‘Sweet P’s’ Gentlemen’s Club. This probably isn’t a spoiler, but Stan isn’t stepping out on his wife, he’s taken on the role of security at the strip club as a means of supporting his family whilst he awaits for a decision from the force on whether or not he can resume work as police officer.
True to character, Stan never seems at all tempted to cheat on Ruby with one of his new stripper friends (Meg Thee Stallion and Noureen DeWulf), instead he succumbs to the same temptation that his wife fell to, money. Stan goes from looking the other way when the strippers engage in criminal activity to masterminding it, culminating in an emotional scene where Ruby tells Stan that she needs him to be good and he lashes out and says “I’ve tried good, doesn’t get you anywhere, good gets you tired”. The same sentiment is echoed by their once squeaky-clean daughter, Sara (Lidya Jewett), who has also strayed away from the path of virtue.
The erosion of the Hill family and their acceptance that they are no longer good people is a difficult pill for us all to swallow, none more so than for Ruby, the one responsible for their fall from grace. I say her “family”, but I should really be saying her husband and daughter, their son, “Little Money” (Danny Boyd Jr) isn’t involved in any of their shenanigans and needs to be protected at all costs. You hear us writers, don’t even think about corrupting him!
The punch lines and gags all still land the same, hilarious way they did in the first two seasons, in large part because of Annie. Her comedic timing is exceptional and every time she chimes in on one of Beth and Ruby’s serious conversations with one of her “suggestions” you just know that it’s going to be a it’s going to be a laugh out loud moment.
Before going into this next point I have to mention that this season was supposed to be 5 episodes longer but it was cut short as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak. That doesn’t mean that I don’t feel let down by the end product but it explains a lot. Now time to sh*t on it (respectfully of course)
Are We There Yet. The most problematic thing about this season is it’s pacing, there’s just too much time dedicated to plot points that aren’t that exciting, whether it be the pursuit of a hitman or Beth and her husband Dean’s (Matthew Lillard) ‘will-they-won’t-they-wait-we’re-already-married-maybe-we-should-get-a-divorce-wait-no-there-might-still-be-something-here-even-though-we’ve-both-slept-with-other-people’ relationship woes. The show does a great job of laying out the problems that each of our protagonists are facing and addressing them, but there just never seems to be a resolution and you start to become jaded. This is a show about three suburban woman who rob stores and shot people to provide for their family, nothing about it should ever be boring.
One Step Forward, Ten Steps Back. Over the course of three seasons we have seen Beth go from being a submissive housewife to the dominant force her relationship and in crime; we’ve seen Ruby walk further away from the morality which once defined her; and we’ve seen Annie, well, just be Annie and it’s frustrating to watch. Annie is the younger sister to both Beth and Ruby, and because she spends so much time around them we’re forced to see her through lens, but she’s a grown woman with a child.
After taking the advice of her ex, Annie finally decides to sign herself up for therapy and the results are truly wonderful to see. She finally accepts that her sexual promiscuity isn’t an innocent act done solely for pleasure as she used to make out, but it comes from a place of needing to be loved. Then the writers decided to throw a sledgehammer to all of this character development and has her trying to sleep with her therapist Dr. Josh Cohen (Rob Heaps) and tempt him into infidelity for most of the season, despite his insistence that it would be inappropriate and a serious conflict of interest (damn right it would be!)
It just feels like such a disservice to Annie and the audience to have her continue to behave this way.
Becoming Ben. The highlight of this season is something that is barely even discussed, the transition of Annie and Josh’s child “Sadie” to “Ben” (Isaiah Stannard). Throughout the first two seasons we saw glimpses of Sadie exploring gender-identity, without actually saying what had been alluded to from the beginning until close to the end, Sadie is a boy.
This season Sadie tells Annie that she wants to be called as “Ben” and that’s what he becomes known as from that point on, no resistance, no questioning, it just happens and that’s what makes it so beautiful. It would have been so easy for Good Girls to try use it as a plot device and capitalise off of this life moment and make it into a moment to attract LGBTQ+ viewers, but they didn’t. They handled this very delicate topic with grace and poise, and decided not to make it into an “event” and present it for what it is, a part of life. Isaiah Stannard is exceptional in this role and has a very promising career ahead of him.
There are loads of new characters this season and even though we might not be seeing some of them again (make of that what you will), they all added something their own unique flair to the show and it would be wrong not to mention them. With standout performances coming from Charlyne Yi as the quirky Lucy, Ione Skye as Gayle and Wesam Keesh as Max.
The cliffhanger of this season doesn’t leave us with the same excitement of its predecessors, but that’s probably because it was never meant to be a season finale in the first place. Having heard the opinions of other fans, I know that that I’m not the only one who was disappointed in this season and that disappointment stems from wanting more for these women, they’re are all so fun and likeable that we can’t help but watch them, we’ll watch them as long as they’re on our screens, but we can’t watch them go out like this.
Season 4, We Need You To Come Good!
Do You Think That I Was A Bit Harsh On Season 3? What Was Your Favourite Moment Of The Season? What Are You Expecting From Season 4?
As Usual Comments Are Encouraged!