*no spoilers, which is why things might confuse you a bit–I’m trying to be as vague as possible!*
Why Women Kill is a TV series by the creator of Desperate Housewives, Marc Cherry. I did not watch Desperate Housewives, but Why Women Kill seems to incorporate the same quirky comedy and juicy drama of its predecessor. My opinion is that if you enjoyed Netflix’s Dead To Me or, in general, love to see flawed but strong female characters struggle to regain control of their lives, you will enjoy this show.
Why Women Kill is available through CBS Access, but is only ten episodes long, so you can completely binge it on a free trial. I believe in you! Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the series and want to re-watch it, but be warned that it is quite slow in the first half, much like a Korean drama that keeps making you believe something big is about to happen only to have the opportunity pass by over and over again. The series follows three different women who live in the same mansion in different periods. You have Ginnifer Goodwin playing the dedicated housewife, Beth Ann, in the 60s; Lucy Liu playing the fabulous socialite, Simone, in the 80s; and Kirby Howell-Baptiste playing the unconventional feminist, Taylor, in the present time. All three residences in the mansion end with murder–and you wonder who dies? And why?
In a way, the show is formatted as a mystery because you do not know what’s going to happen, but you get a sense of all that has happened. You are being told the tale of the three women after the fact, so you know something happened, but not exactly what, because each story is still told chronologically for the most part. It is an interesting stylistic choice.
The best part of this drama, for me, was the characters. Throughout the whole series, you are puzzled and on the edge of your seat, trying to understand your feelings on whether you like a character or hate them. Each character is multi-faceted, and so it becomes difficult to truly come to a black-and-white judgment on where they stand in the scale from good to evil, from likable to despicable.
I love complex characters, and the writing and direction were fabulous in arousing conflicting emotions in the viewers, showing that nothing is quite as simple as it seems. I was still satisfied with the ending, but I was most satisfied with the character development.
Again, this is in thanks to some great production. The writing was excellent–pithy and thought out completely. The direction and editing were great, particularly in the final climax, which was beautifully filmed. Everything was fleshed out in its entirety, keeping you in suspense and hooked, except when there were some moments that were too slow for a more impatient viewer. There is some quirky narration going on, Good Omens-style.
The acting was also fabulous. Ginnifer Goodwin does a commendable job playing an oppressed character who slowly comes to take ownership of her life. Lucy Liu was chef’s kiss. I always thought her character in Elementary felt a bit flat, so it was nice to see all the color she put into her character here. Everything from her voice to her manner of speech changed for her character; she gets to showcase her versatility here. This is Lucy as you’ve never seen her before.
(I also loved how natural it was for her to be in this show without her being Asian playing any factor in the story line. There always seems to be some sort of excuse for making a character Asian or shoving the Asianness of said character into the viewers’ face. The only thing might be she comes from a humble background with her parents owning a laundromat, which I think was a nice subtle touch.)
Admittedly, I kept being confused because her character’s name is Simone, which is Kirby Howell-Baptiste’s character in The Good Place. Speaking of, one problem I felt was that Kirby’s (or Taylor’s) arc in the story was overshadowed in character complexity, story line, screen time, and acting challenges by the secondary female lead played by Alexandra Daddario–even, sometimes, by the male lead, Reid Scott. Daddario outshone Howell-Baptiste simply because there was a bigger range of acting required of her; her character was more memorable for her complexity.
There was an imbalance in this story line that I did not find to be completely fair to Howell-Baptiste or to properly parallel the other two story lines. She also sees the least character development out of the three ladies. She comes into the show already being a mature, well-developed person for the most part. You will actually see the people around her changing much more, which, again, gives her acting chops less time to shine.
Her story line in general was a tinge weak on the writing side because there were also many reveals that happen later on that seem to come out of nowhere. I know the purpose is to influence sympathy toward the characters, taking more away from one to give to the other, but it felt a bit convenient. More subtle hints might have been better earlier on. Another character I think who could have used more story and background is Tommy, played by Leo Howard.
Speaking of, the men in the show are not to be ignored. They all did a fabulous job at playing up the complexities of their character with their own set of problems. No one is perfect in this show. No one is wholly the victim, at least in that they take responsibility for their own lives by the end rather than play the victim card.
The only thing is that there is some reflection on social issues of the times, such as gender roles (60s), gay rights (80s), and perhaps class differences (80s and 10s). Some people may have wanted them to go a bit harder on these issues, so this is a disclaimer that the show is not so much about social criticism–it might be a bit weak there, actually–but if you take it at face value as fun entertainment, you may better enjoy it. This will be a personal preference. Each story line does reflect the time to an extent, but I saw it as more of a fun leap throughout the American decades as a stylistic choice to add flavor rather than heavy commentary on issues of the period.
Overall, Why Women Kill was very fun to watch. You will laugh, you will gasp, you may get teary, and you will ponder your own values and virtues while watching. I am very happy that a second season was announced and curious about how they will handle it with an entirely new ensemble! I highly recommend you check out Why Women Kill.
Let me know what you think if you try it out! If you already watched, leave your own thoughts down below.
Why Women Kill Rating: