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So lemme tell you about my day: Kids were running late, so I drove them to school instead of taking the really easy walk. Once there, I had to find my son’s snow pants and boots from the lost and found for a field trip. I wasn’t a half-block away from the school when the school office called again because my son had misplaced the permission slip for said field trip. At that point, I decided just to give it up and drive to work downtown: a huge mistake, because usually something horrible happens, like a random ticket or three. Sure enough, I offer to give my a boss a ride home in the sleet to discover that the car had been frickin’ towed. BY MISTAKE. (Then immediately dragged boss out for a cocktail and fried food.) But if the tow pound had been close by, I probably would have wanted to break my car right out of it, just like Abby this episode.

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I tell you this seemingly inconsequential story to prove that Barbara’s throwaway line to Abby about how women no longer want to have it all—they just want to get all of their shit done without having a breakdown—is actually right on the money. Abby is an extreme example of this, but as my day today points out, not at all an uncommon one. Because women feel more responsible and have a tendency to take more on than they should, many of us hold burdens greater than our “bandwidth,” as Abby would say.

I’ve admired before how carefully this show has crafted Abby’s breakdown, but what also makes her no good, very bad day so effective is Lisa Edelstein herself. Like Sarah Jessica Parker, who inhabited a similar role in Sex And The City, Edelstein has the perfect combo of strength and vulnerability to pull this part off. She’s so engaging that we can’t help but smile at her bad jokes when her friends stage an intervention, and we wince as she tries her hardest to say she’s sorry to Delia but doesn’t quite land the apology. And the realization that her book is actual gibberish is a chilling gut-punch.

At least Abby realizes that she needs to attend her friend’s wedding, even as her own world is falling apart, which is another point in favor of the character: She is putting her friend first on her big day. And Delia seems much more excited about her wedding than anyone would have been led to expect: In fact, all signs were pointing to a runaway bride in this scenario. But who would have thought that (in all likelihood) now-psychopath Albert would send pictures of his affair with Delia to her groom on her wedding day? Looks like Albert doesn’t have her best interests at heart either, but it’s impressive how much Gordon switches here. (We’ve only seen a few glimpses of his dark side before this.) From the besotted couple consummating their marriage before it even happens to two barely speaking people dragging down the aisle in the same episode is quite a devastating leap. The devastation is even greater because Delia realizes that she really did want Gordon all along, and now he is likely lost to her.

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But hey, it’s a wedding, so let’s have a little romance, something more than Ken Cosgrove looking good in a suit? In another twist, Jo and Scott become the most romantic couple of the season, with an excellent heartfelt speech by Scott straight out of a rom-com. Jo is also personifying the conundrum that Barbara and Abby mentioned: She’s even taking on the problem of her recently dumped ex-husband, both because her daughter wants her to and because there’s nobody else around to do it. Her eyes well up at Scott’s devotion not because she doesn’t believe him, but because she doesn’t have enough room in her life to let him in. She’s had to be self-sustaining for so long, even Scott’s few attempts at helping her are met with sarcastic bewilderment. But of all the couples on the show, right now I’m most interested in how this plays out.

In the one scheduled episode we have left. A lesser show would have ended the season with this wedding cliffhanger, but Girlfriends’ has shown to be complex and unexpected enough that next week there’s likely to be something even crazier in store. And then, with any luck, a season three. There’s enough brainpower and experience here behind the camera and enough compelling talent in front of it to make this show a contender, even if some other factors (midwinter schedule? unexpected cable channel?) cause it to slip slightly beneath the radar.

Stray observations

  • “She’s been screening my calls since the ’90s,” “It’s like the circle of life, but with barbituates instead of lions,” “Boners for Algernon!”: Jo has officially won my unofficial “Most Improved Character” category on this show.
  • If you break into someone’s house and don’t want to freak the hell out of them, wouldn’t you yell out, “Abby? You home?’
  • I also can’t believe they pulled out this dog again who we haven’t even seen yet this season, just to give Abby someone to talk to.
  • Best outfits this week, wedding edition: Love the all-white bridesmaid dresses. You know what that says? It says, “I’m going to look so awesome in that wedding dress that not even my own bridesmaids can outshine me.” Unfortunately for Delia, she has some really great looking bridesmaids. And isn’t the strapless wedding dress finally over? So surprisingly, my fave of the four dresses, which were all out-and-out gorgeous and individually perfect for the women who wore them, is Jo’s lace mini-skirt.
  • Penultimate power rankings:
  1. Phoebe: Phoebe sticking up for her boyfriend is how it is done. Also crafted perfect bride-to-be getaway with pink fur pillows and balloons and penis candy. But why does she have a moped in her bedroom?
  2. Jo: Saddled with Frumpkus, but receives declaration of love from Scott, and is taking care of her daughter.
  3. Last-place tie: Even Abby and Delia wouldn’t trade places with each other right now.

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