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Girlfriends’ Guide explores sex, lies, and oil paint

Illustration for article titled Girlfriends’ Guide explores sex, lies, and oil paint
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Like Sex And The City that preceded it, I think Girlfriends’ Guide would do well to explore overarching relationship topics week by week, hopefully tied to Abby’s book chapters. This week offers a heated exploration of monogamy, as Abby finds it difficult to deal with her ”open” relationship with Harris, while Delia discovers that Albert is more unfaithful than she thought.

It’s painful to see fabulous Abby acting like a lovesick schoolgirl, fervently checking messages and looking up Harris on Twitter, realizing that playing hard to get is the fastest, maybe only way to Harris’ heart. And it’s depressing but understandable to learn that dating as a fortysomething is not that different from dating as a teenager. You can see that Abby’s gut-punched when she finds pictures of Harris on a high-profile date with someone else online. Thanks to alcohol-fueled bravery (I enjoy Girlfriends’ Guide just for exchanges like this one: “We should get drunk with those children.” “I am way ahead of you on that one”), Abby decides to play Harris’ game by hooking up with Carl, the gigolo she met last year in Las Vegas, who is conveniently in town. But that’s the gap, isn’t it: Carl obviously can fill Abby’s physical needs, but not the giant emotional hole in her heart. Especially not when he casually lets it drop that he used her name to get a meeting in L.A. (Lisa Edelstein’s crushed reaction shot there was magnificent.)


Since Ken Cosgrove is doing his best James Spader in Sex, Lies, And Videotape (only with oil paint, and appears to be as flummoxed as we are by Phoebe’s interest in him), let’s revisit some dialogue from that movie: When Spader’s Graham quotes that “Men love the people they’re attracted to, and women are attracted to the people they love.” The heroes of these relationship sitcoms (Harris here, SATC’s Mr. Big) would have us believe that men and women love in different ways. Or at least, these particular men and women. Harris can be casual with Abby, but Abby is not the kind of person who can be in a casual relationship. Especially, it seems, right after ending her lengthy marriage. After all, Abby’s still in rebound territory, and as she realizes at the end of the episode in a nice moment with Becca: “You can’t force yourself to be somewhere you’re not.” So does that mean Abby will ditch Harris for someone who wants to be all in? If that’s what she wants, she does deserve better, but it would be nice (and healthier) to see her on her own for a while.

For Delia, even though she stressed to Albert the need to “keep it light,” the discovery that she is just another notch on his bedpost comes as a shock. The two ostensibly kicked off their affair by caring so much about each other as work colleagues, but did he really not care at all? Again, we have this disconnect, where even with keeping it light, Delia appears more affected by the affair than Albert does. Delia, at least, ends on a high note (Abby almost does), by putting Albert in his place and negotiating with the person who really pulls all the strings: His wife. After almost losing everything, Delia will keep her job (and her engagement, for now), while Albert loses the beachhouse and the Lake tickets, which is somehow gratifying.

Less impressive are Jo and Phoebe’s storylines. Jo’s has some emotional weight, and she realizes that her outspoken personality may not fit in with her daughter’s new world. Again, hope she doesn’t hook up with Scott, but it was nice that he was there for her with a beer. At least Jo gets something out of that relationship: I’m kind of despising how Phoebe went from her GRE, to college, to the art world, and now has decided that her new mission in life is to teach this weirdo about sex. The Sex, Lies parallels are strong in this one, and to what end? If she just needs a project, what happens when she and this guy actually hit the outside world?

After all, if Girlfriends’ Guide is facing monogamy, the only other people in J.D.’s life are two-dimensional. Jo is watching her daughter slip away to someone else, the dreaded Charlene. Delia, a cheater, is devastated by her the extracurricular activities of her own lover. And Abby realizes she’s a one-man women, but she’s unfortunately with the wrong guy for that.


Stray observations

  • “I thought what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas!”
  • Notice that the rich kids call Jo’s daughter “Zoe” as well.
  • Nice nod to the Girlfriends’ Guide To Pregnancy series; Abby should have given Becca that book! As I’ve said, the real book was my bible when I was on bedrest.
  • Harsh: The luncheon speaker calls Delia “the kind of role model I want for my daughters” just as she gets the text that her lover’s wife knows everything.
  • Love how everyone just stays at Abby’s house for whatever reason.
  • At this point, the absence of the kids is so irritating. Just a one-off line that they’re visiting the grandparents would be welcome. Abby has twentysomethings running in and out of her house, leading to an out-and-out bash, and Lily and Charlie are nowhere to be seen. But that’s not even as egregious as the complete lack of Phoebe’s kids: We know she has them because we’ve seen her at the school. So who is watching them when she stays overnight at J.D.’s? Did her ex get custody in a plot point I just missed somewhere?
  • This week’s fashion conundrum: Help me out here, people: Do we love Abby’s print dress above, or does that crazy bell skirt ruin it? I honestly can’t decide. But points down for that stringy braid.
  • Power rankings:
  1. Delia: Gets out of a sticky situation by realizing (thanks to a CW starlet; also loved this exchange: “I played a lawyer once.” “You?” “I wore glasses.”) that she needs to deal with Sherry, not Albert.
  2. Abby: At least comes to an understanding by the end of the episode that what Harris is offering is not enough.
  3. Jo: Losing her fight to be the primary force in Zooey’s life.
  4. Phoebe: Her exploration storyline has hit a very mundane speedbump. What was more painful: the porn mimicking or the yogurt banter?

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