June 11, 2013

THE SKED’S PILOT + 1 REVIEW: “Mistresses”



A lot can happen between the creation of a TV pilot and the production of regular episodes: writer/producers may be hired or fired, audience focus groups weigh in, networks and studios (which may have had their own turnover) give plenty of notes, helpful and otherwise, and critics start to rear their ugly heads. Tone, pace, casting, and even story can change. Here at THE SKED, we’re going to look past the pilots and present reviews of the first regular season episodes as well.

Previously… on MISTRESSES:  A group of friends are all enmeshed, one way or another, in wayward sex, including Savannah (Alyssa Milano), a lawyer who compensated for the woes of having a husband with low sperm count by plunging into colleague Dominic (Jason George); her happily slutty sister Josslyn (Jes Macallan); their therapist friend Karen (Yunjin Kim), who was sleeping with her (now-dead) patient and is now being pursued by both his son Sam (Erik Stocklin) and an insurance investigator (Gary Dourdan) who thinks she may have participated in his assisted suicide; and the widow April (Rochelle Aytes), who at the end of the pilot discovered that her late husband seems to have had a son with another woman.

Episode 2:  The second hour, written by Executive Producer Rina Mimoun and directed by Chris Misiano, tried to reach for a bit of a lighter tone than the pilot, which is a good idea, considering how close these plot mechanics come to farce.  But mostly the women spent the episode agonizing, Savi over her adultery (which she confessed immediately to April and Karen), Karen over her lover/patient and his surviving son, and April over her husband’s betrayal.  In fact, since Savi’s law firm is also involved in the investigation of whether Karen’s man died of natural causes, there’s more death on Mistresses than there is sex, the only holdout for a good time being Josslyn.  Despite the hot-time title, there isn’t a single current mistress on Mistresses, although Josslyn seems likely to fall into bed with lesbian client Alex (Shannyn Sossamon, an indie icon clearly paying some bills with this turn) sooner rather than later.  Aside from some kinky foreplay for Josslyn, the only couple that got it on in the course of the episode was safely in the marital bed.

It’s all much less fun than it should be, a grab-bag of glossy, good-looking suffering instead of a summer celebration of shallow sex.  Maybe this is what the target audience wants with their suds, but so far Mistresses is duller than even Lifetime’s pair of Army Wives and The Client List, which respectively have some non-romance plotlines and some, you know, sex–let alone quality serials like ABC’s own Grey’s Anatomy or Nashville.  (We won’t even mention Scandal, which has turned soap into something like genius.)  Here’s a warning sign for a series:  when the network’s Promo Department can’t even fill 30 seconds of air with enough exciting footage from the next week’s episode to tantalize, and has to employ a compendium “This Season On…”  (And even with that crutch, it didn’t seem like anything very surprising or exciting would be going on.)   Mistresses is in danger of becoming a show about illicit sex that a pastor could endorse.

ORIGINAL VERDICT:  If Nothing Else Is On…

PILOT + 1:  Summer Pickings Are Slim, But This Show Needs To Find A Pulse


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."