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Come to Girlfriends’ Guide for the glam, stay for the frothy drama

Illustration for article titled Come to Girlfriends’ Guide for the glam, stay for the frothy drama
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Hey there. Hi. You might have traveled over to this review because there is almost no other new TV content now that most shows are on this new thing called the winter hiatus or whatever. But Girlfriends’ Guide may be a fine vehicle to get you through winter break, especially for people who like watching things that give them wardrobe/house/partner/party envy. This episode really managed to knock out all of these, because no one throws a party like the girlfriends throw a party. Even if I had had an engagement party like Delia does this episode, I doubt it would have involved women lolling about for the entire evening in life-sized champagne glasses. Just for starters.

Look past the glam, and what’s fun about Girlfriends is it shows the interplay between a group of four women who are no longer the age of the girls in Girls. You would think that their maturity means that they would no longer get into bitchy little kitten fights, but you’d be wrong. Within the four, there is still a lot of cross-hostility. Jo and Abby are still in a snit because Abby is a nice person and Jo is a garbage person and for some reason, Abby keeps trying. Give it up, Abby! Then Phoebe and Delia face off because, although a grown-ass woman, Phoebe doesn’t seem to comprehend it when Delia tells her to back off about finding her long-lost relatives for the engagement party, the Benais of Valencia. Probably spelling that wrong, but that phrase is repeated so many times this episode, it sounds like a PBS mini-series: The Benais Of Valencia.


At least, if you’ll notice, Delia apologizes to Phoebe for being a bitch because Phoebe was just trying to help, even though she was doing it in the most asinine way possible. Hear that Jo? See how simple it is to act like an adult? But Jo is content to immediately take offense at Abby’s polite questions, even when Abby says that she wasn’t trying to insult her: “You don’t have to try. It’s your resting state.” What in the hell.

So once again, Abby wins the adult award by a mile, and she has a lot to juggle this week. She goes on a fake date that turns out to be not as fake with a perfect doctor. Then Jake finally comes clean about Becca’s pregnancy, except he doesn’t come clean soon enough. How he thinks he can get away with this stuff is beyond anyone: Abby’s own brother and his husband know the truth! How long before someone spills? Not too long, as it turns out.

Both executive producer Marti Noxon and Lisa Edelstein have writing credits on this episode (Edelstein’s first, according to the IMDB), and as always, the scenes between Abby and Jake are where the show really shines. Even after only one full season of episodes, there is enough history between these two that they (and we) can easily point to all that came before: Jake’s reluctance to tell the whole, painful truth, Abby’s untrustworthiness after her ”emotional affair” that preceded the series. Jake’s snide “It’s all my fault” fits right into the marriage fight handbook, as does Abby’s immediate reaction to how their other kids would react to their new half-sibling. Yes, they’re in a push-pull situation, but because of their marital history, and because of how much both actors bring to each scene, it feels real, not contrived.

Less real: Way-too-perfect TV doctor guy (Mark Valley). He cured the cook’s mother! He doesn’t even care that Abby breaks down at the table and is still involved with her ex-husband! He sends ginormous flowers! It will be interesting to see Abby venture into a relationship with more of an equal (sorry, Will), especially as Jake seethes on the sidelines. Lisa Edelstein is so winning as Abby, charming yet vulnerable (maybe she wrote herself some great dialogue), she helps elevate Girlfriend’s above the house porn and fashion plates and cat fights. She’s a glamorous fortysomething woman still figuring out her life, making this a journey much more valuable than a soap opera.


Stray observations:

  • What was with Becca whining about “How are you going to support me?” Isn’t she a TV star? Isn’t this the 21st century?
  • “Call us from the liquor store!” made me giggle. I like Abby and Jake’s parenting.
  • What the hell kind of theme is “Champagne Nights” for an engagement party? And how do cherry tarts fit into the equation?
  • “Phoebe, just stop thinking, it’s not your strong suit.” Ouch.
  • Doesn’t Delia know after she gets married she’ll be Delia Goolia? Is that why she obviously doesn’t want to get married?
  • Whose idea in that writers’ room was this: Why in the world would Adam drop his pants at the party? Contrasted with Adam, I’m liking Scott more and more, like I’m supposed to.
  • Loving the fashion so much on this show, I’m starting a new weekly feature!:
  • Best outfit: Many to choose from, but I really loved Abby’s yellow and white dress she wore to the office, even though I would never be able to pull that off. (The star of the other show I call out fashion for, The Mindy Project, has a much more similar body shape to mine.)
  • Runner-up: Bird print dress Abby wore to the party (above).
  • Worst outfit: Phoebe’s super-hero cape thing at the party (above). It looks like it’s from a boutique on Mount Olympus. I get that she’s staggeringly beautiful, but it’s nice to see clothes on TV that mere mortals might actually wear.
  • If you want to catch up on this show, the entire first season is available on Netflix.

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