June 3, 2014

THE SKED Season Premiere Review: “Mistresses”



Tonight’s season premiere of last summer’s guilty pleasure MISTRESSES referenced the old line about not fixing what ain’t broken, which was odd, because under showrunner/Executive Producer Rina Mimoun, the show seemed to be doing just that.  In the premiere, at least, written by Mimoun and directed by Ron Lagomarsino, last season’s peaks of entertainingly trashy melodrama were nowhere to be found–no husband back from the dead for April (Rochelle Aytes), no psychotic wife and son of deceased patient/lover out to ruin Karen’s (Yunjin Kim) life–and what was left was a very watered-down network version of Sex and the City.  It was a particularly strange direction for ABC, considering that the network’s reigning monarch, Shonda Rhimes, never met a crazy storyline she couldn’t make more compellingly insane, and that approach seems to be working out for her and the network pretty well.

It is, of course, early days for Season 2, and perhaps Mimoun and Mistresses have plenty of trashy plot twists on the way.  The premiere hour, however, was merely… pleasant.  Last season’s cliffhangers were resolved efficiently, as we learned–picking up 8 months after the events of the finale– that it was the son of Karen’s lover/patient (and an unwise romantic interest himself) who died in the climactic shooting, and that Savi (Alyssa Milano) had survived her car accident but lost the baby she was carrying, and that she’d chosen to be with the baby’s father and her law firm colleague Dom (Jason George) over her chef husband Harry (Brett Tucker).  Additional post-finale changes had Karen now working in a hospital ER rather than in private practice (although that was about to change back by the end of the hour), and Savi’s sister Joss (Jes Macallan) altering her career path from realtor to party planner (her main action of the episode was trying to land Soleil Moon Frye, playing herself, as a client).

The new storylines were all very mild.  April quickly acquired a hot artist boyfriend and a reborn desire to create her own art, as well as a flamboyantly gay BFF (Joseph May) who seemed to be a refugee from network TV circa 2005.  Karen instantly diagnosed an ER patient (Catherine Kim) as having deeper issues than the boyfriend with a taste for extreme sex that she claimed.  Joss, after failing to land Punky Brewster, decided to go into partnership with her sister’s ex Harry, while Savi herself had no sooner decided it was time to go back to work at the law firm than she discovered that the associate Dom was spending late nights with was “Toni,” not “Tony” (Rebeka Montoya), and a drop-dead gorgeous young woman.

These plots may turn out to be entertaining enough, but none were particularly grabby at first look.  Also, the emphasis on everyone’s sex lives just served as a reminder of how PG even 10PM network TV is (except for Scandal and The Good Wife, which seem to operate under different rules), compared to the most basic of basic cable.  Luckily, a major part of Mistresses’ strength is the charm of its lead actresses, and that continues to be in full force, so the series still promises to be fair company during the summer months.  Once Under the Dome returns to its Monday 10PM slot at the end of June, though, and with plenty of cable networks just starting to flex their summer muscles, it may get harder to justify reserving a DVR spot for a lukewarm version of Mistresses.  The series will need to rediscover its flair fairly quickly.


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."