Thursday, August 15, 2019

REVIEW: 'Why Women Kill' - Life for Three Marriages Changes Forever in 'Murder Means Never Having to Say You're Sorry'

CBS All Access' Why Women Kill - Episode 1.01 "Murder Means Never Having to Say You're Sorry"

One Pasadena, California house serves as the focal point for three decades worth of marital strife. In 1963, Beth Ann's life as a doting housewife is upended when she learns of her husband Rob's infidelity. In 1984, socialite Simone is blindsided by her husband Karl's devastating secret. In present day, high-powered lawyer Taylor has an open marriage with husband Eli.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the series premiere of CBS All Access' Why Women Kill.

"Murder Means Never Having to Say You're Sorry" was written by Marc Cherry and directed by Marc Webb

Because this show is titled Why Women Kill, there is every expectation that there will be murders that take place. Of course, it's also a show created by Marc Cherry who has long told compelling narratives about women caught up in murder mysteries. Desperate Housewives and Devious Maids were successful versions of that specific format. The premiere for Why Women Kill doesn't tease who exactly may turn up dead though. It instead highlights three very different marriages and the ongoing struggles that could eventually prompt women to kill. But the show isn't outright saying that the three female leads - Lucy Liu's Simone, Ginnifer Goodwin's Beth Ann and Kirby Howell-Baptiste's Taylor - will all kill their husbands by the end of this season. It's clear that something is going to happen with each of them. But right now, that just comes from the power of suggestion and the way audiences have been conditioned to respond to certain material depicted onscreen. The structure of this story also separates the three main plots. They may all share the same house in Pasadena but they are separated by decades. As such, there won't be the endearing quality that these three women will come to rely on each other as time goes on. Instead, they will be kept in their own specific worlds. The show allows the themes of the various stories to connect them all together. Now, that may be more difficult than simply allowing all of these stories to happen at the same time. The show is trying to make a larger statement about how marriage has evolved over the past few decades. Beth Ann is expected to be and is happy as a housewife who serves Rob. Meanwhile, Simone is the center of attention in her marriage even though it's less defined what she and Karl do to afford this luxurious mansion. And finally, Taylor is the breadwinner of the family with Eli being the one adrift in life. Moreover, the stories set in the past delve into how the revelations of affairs bolster these extreme reactions. Beth Ann learns from her new neighbors that Rob has been spotted kissing a waitress at a diner near his new job. Simone is sent pictures of Karl kissing a young man. These shock their lives in extreme ways. Both Beth Ann and Simone thought they had perfect lives. With Simone, that fantasy is absolutely the point. She is a woman who lives in excess. She cares about being liked and what people say about her in the community. She is a high-class socialite who needs to be the focus of whatever drama happens to be going on in the neighborhood. With Beth Ann though, the show is teasing that this is a marriage that has already been rocked by tragedy. They apparently had a daughter and something happened to her. That's why Beth Ann believes Rob would never cheat on her. It would be too devastating. But her response is ultimately to befriend the waitress, April. Sure, that's bound to blow up at some point. Of course, it all seems like a point the show is trying overly hard to make. People have different responses upon learning that what they believed to be true wasn't the case after all. Beth Ann and Simone love their husbands but don't know what's going on with them. Meanwhile, the present day story features an open marriage. It's a story where the idea of someone having an affair is no longer a scandalous thing. Instead, the drama comes from Taylor having to invite her new friend, Jade, over to stay with them for a couple of days. That then showcases how Eli may long for a more traditional wife. Someone who can actually clean and cook. He's very appreciative of all that Taylor does. But she may be carrying some resentment as well because of all the responsibilities she has to shoulder to support their life together. It's a much more subtle narrative that still pivots around the suspicion of a three-way happening at some point. That's not the most exciting component of this particular story. But it does allow nuance into a situation that does the best job in highlighting how relationships have changed but still require complete truth and honesty within the couple.