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Why Women Kill - Murder Means Never Having to Say You're Sorry - Review - How Fabulous Can I Be

Marc Cherry's newest TV creation sashays into summer with elegance and poise. Then it pushes a vase full of flowers off the table and turns to the camera and winks. The pilot episode is delicious, exquisitely scored and shot. The trio of women at the center of its shenanigans, heartbreak, and bloodshed couldn't seem more different when we first meet them, but we'll soon believe they are capable of anything. The premise isn't whether women can kill though. It's why they would do so, and the pilot introduces as many motives as it does potential murderers and victims alike.

The 2019 story is more of a slow burn than the 1980-something and 1960-something ones. It's also separate from the other two in that it focuses on the husband Eli (Reid Scott)'s POV. He is seemingly modern and chill, because he's content with his open marriage to Taylor (Kirby Howell-Baptiste), the breadwinner and "one hot feminist." He has no qualms with her bringing home the bacon and roasting sexist pigs who underestimate her. The wrench in their marriage comes courtesy of one of Taylor's lovers Jade (Alexandra Daddario). Taylor breaks the rules by bringing Jade under their roof, just for a weekend to help her stay safe from a stalker. Eli doesn't object for long. He's dazzled by Jade, and she soon cleans and cooks for Taylor and Eli with glee. Proud feminist Eli is soon gushing to his friend Lamar (Kevin Daniels) about how Jade's "serious housewife shit" is bringing out his inner caveman. Lamar clues into the fact that Jade seems to have a thing for Eli. Any doubts on the matter are put to rest when Jade strips to go swimming, pulling down her trousers with her derriere too close to Eli's face to leave room for Jesus. She also turns out to be a superfan of a movie that Eli wrote, and it feels like quite the coincidence that she didn't know he was the screenwriter. It's too early in this story to get a strong sense of the characters, but clearly these three are headed for some drama.
The 1984 story rests squarely on the shoulder pads of Lucy Liu's Simone Grove. Wealthy and fabulous, Simone clearly enjoys the rituals of high society. She's more than a little self-centered and something of an actress. At a party, after being told that an acquaintance named Wanda doesn't like her, Simone turns to her husband Karl (Jack Davenport) in a pout. We see throughout the episode that Karl is charmed by Simone's attitude and flair. He seems to adore her for exactly what she is, and his heartbreak at her discovery feels sincere. Simone genuinely cares about Karl too, as we witness when she discovers what appears to be his suicide attempt. There's terror in the violent slap she gives him to make sure he stays conscious, and there's rage when she tackles Wanda on the lawn later. Liu is quite electric, even in the last scene where Simone sits in a funk, literally surrounded by her favorite things, and wonders why none of her three husbands loved her above all else. As she morosely pets her furs, it appears Simone might embark on a voyage of self-discovery. Or she might do whatever (or do in whoever) it takes to maintain the status quo. 
The best parts of the pilot though are the 1963 story. Ginnifer Goodwin's performance as Beth Ann Stanton is a scream, poignant and hilarious and terrifying. Beth Ann is committed to being the perfect wife. She might shrink back when she sees how large their new home is, but she also bristles with delicate indignation when neighbor Sheila Mosconi (Alicia Coppola is fantastic) suggests that there is anything amiss in how Beth is treated by her husband Rob (Sam Jaeger). Sheila and her husband Leo (Adam Ferrara) provide quite the foil to the Stantons. Their affection and respect for each other is unmissable, and Beth really does seem like just Rob's maid. Goodwin is playing a character whose behavior is so outdated that it almost seems alien. While it's comical to watch her dashing away with tiny ladylike steps in the grocery store, it's also extremely disheartening. But it's so funny too. There's history with the Stantons we don't know that adds another color to their present situation. When Beth Ann clutches a crystal platter to her chest and nearly sobs that Rob couldn't be cheating, not after what happened to their (apparently deceased) daughter, it all gets so much sadder. Did grief drive a rift between Beth Ann and Rob? What happened to their daughter? When she watches Rob laughing and flirting with April (Sadie Calvano) at the diner, Beth Ann seems more depressed than anything else. 
Rob and Beth's meatloaf conversation sees brilliant performances from Goodwin and Jaeger. Her very quiet musings about when he might die and how he might die and what if he might die and oh maybe she did change something about the meatloaf recipe. Goodwin plays the scene with an impeccable balance of demure hostility and passive-aggressive wonder. Jaeger's comic timing is excellent as Rob is put off balance and doesn't quite know how to process the vibes his wife is sending down the table. Beth's decision to not confront Rob about the affair comes as a surprise to Sheila. She encourages Beth to confront April instead, and that meeting takes a twist when April's ignorant kindness results in Beth deciding to befriend her, using Sheila's name as an alias. If anyone we meet in the pilot seems inches away from snapping, it's Beth Ann. What will become of this friendship? Rob says that, if he died, Beth Ann would be his widow, because what else is there for her to be? In the words of Gloria Steinem, “Men should think twice before making widowhood women's only path to power.”

Ending Thoughts:

The transitions among the three eras were basically seamless, yet I often forgot it was the same house that all three women lived in.

Alicia Coppola was a scene stealer for sure, and let's hope we get more Sheila.

For this pilot, Beth Ann's story was the most like a dark comedy. Simone's is more of a drama at this point, and Taylor and Eli's situation could easily slip into psychological horror if Jade really is putting on a wide-eyed act.

The opening narrative device worked alright for the pilot, since it gave us a little insight into each of the husbands. Jaeger's "She used to make me sandwiches and sew buttons on my shirt" was especially bewildered and thus funny. 

The show creator has given clues about the murders that will happen, but I won't share them here, because sometimes even the most vague details give away so much.

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