June 19, 2015

SHOWBUZZDAILY Season Premiere Review: “Mistresses”


MISTRESSES:  Thursday 9PM on ABC

MISTRESSES lost its marquee star this season, when Alyssa Milano declined to move with the show to its new (cheaper) Vancouver shooting location.  We’ll see what effect, if any, this has on the ratings, but in terms of the show’s substance, by Season 2 Milano wasn’t being featured more than any other member of the ensemble, so although her absence leaves a hole, tonight’s back-to-back Season 3 premiere suggested that it was fillable.

Apparently either Milano or the show decided not even to have her appear for an exit episode, so a fair amount of the premiere (Hour 1 written by showrunner Rima Mimoun and Hour 2 by US series creator K.T. Steinberg; both directed by Constantine Makris) was devoted to the mystery of where her character Savi had gone.  The “why” had been helpfully provided by the Season 2 finale, which had Savi’s sister Joss (Jes Macallan) snogging Savi’s ex Harry (Brett Tucker) in Savi’s view, on what was supposed to be Joss’s wedding day.  In the end, Savi was parked overseas, lately in Italy, where her refusal to have anything to do with her sister will justify her absence unless and until Milano is booked for a guest appearance.

Meanwhile, the show added a new regular at the close of the night’s first hour, in the person of TV vet Jennifer Esposito, here playing fantastically successful fashion designer Calista Raines, who naturally enough has marriage problems.  For now, at least, Calista is a rather broad comic character by Mistresses standards, tracking down her cheating hubby with more frenzy then expertise, but so far she’s only made Joss’s acquaintance, and will presumably become more integrated into the ensemble as the season goes on.

The main focuses of the night were Savi’s absence and Joss’s still-postponed hookup with Harry, but seasonal plotlines were introduced for April (Rochelle Aytes) and Karen (Yunjin Kim) as well, with April taking in Mark (Rob Mayes), the brother of her deceased husband’s mistress, and Mark’s nephew, the illegitimate half-brother of April’s daughter. Karen, for her part, bonded with the seriously ill wife of Karen’s own doctor Alec (Ed Quinn), after Karen learned that she has the rare blood type and stem cells that could cure the woman.  Mistresses has never shied away from telegraphing its storylines, and romances involving April/Mark and Karen/Alec are probably inevitable, even if the premiere did weirdly wind up with the 3 leads at Sunday church.

Mistresses has been an unspectacular but useful piece of summer programming for ABC, with appealing stars and a pleasant lack of gravity about itself.  It doesn’t cultivate surprise as much as good-natured familarity.  As for the new cast situation, even when Milano was around, Macallan had all but taken on first-among-equals status, and that seems likely to continue.  (Notably, Esposito wasn’t given first billing as the new “star,” but instead an “and ” credit at the end of the listed regulars.)  The production values haven’t been too badly affected by the move from LA to Canada, although as Joss roamed what was supposed to be Los Angeles in search of her sister, all the locations were by necessity anonymous.

With most of the networks pursuing thrillers and sci-fi fantasies for their scripted summer hours, a pure soap like Mistresses has a bit of novelty in its favor.  Unless the show’s fans have been tuning in purely to see Alyssa Milano, there’s no reason to think the series won’t survive its change in personnel.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."