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DVD Review: Mistresses, Volume 1

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Written by Caballero Oscuro

Described on the DVD box as “a British drama for the Sex & the City set”, Mistresses follows exactly the same framework by featuring four thirty-something women acting as a support network for each other as they pursue various romantic relationships. However, where Sex & the City spent a large amount of time on the comedic and frequently over-the-top elements of those relationships, Mistresses is deadly serious all the time. The show airs on BBC America here, but its highly melodramatic content makes it seem like a much more natural fit for Lifetime.

Admittedly, I’m not the target demographic for this series, so I asked my better half to join me in my viewing marathon. She was tired of the show before the end of the second episode. Here’s the thing: it’s just not fun. The serious tone of the show saps any real zing out of it, and the situations the characters are placed in frequently make the women seem weak, unprofessional, and naïve, so it’s far from a prime example of female empowerment. That leaves the actresses as the only reason to watch, but since they’re saddled with such unsympathetic characters and lackluster stories there’s little they can do to rescue the show.

Only one of the four women is married, but of course that marriage isn’t going well. She and her husband are trying to get pregnant, and his unwavering obsession with ensuring that conditions are optimal for pregnancy at the expense of any romance leads her eyes to wander to a sexy co-worker. Mistress #2 was married until she lost her husband in the 9/11 attacks, and since then she’s been completely alone. When she receives a 9/11 settlement check that makes her an instant millionaire, she also falls under the spell of a hunky bachelor who may have his eyes on more than just her. Mistress #3 is some sort of psychiatrist mourning the death (which she assisted) of one of her patients who was also her lover, but she is also drawn to his son who happens to be her patient as well. And finally, Mistress #4 is a wedding planner who regularly sleeps with her male boss until she decides she’s bi-curious just in time to throw a wrench into the lesbian wedding she’s organizing.

So let’s take a count here: three out of four of these bimbos are having very unprofessional relationships with people they met in their line of work. The psychiatrist is on her second affair…in the same family! Apparently she didn’t learn her lesson the first time. The wedding planner could have hit on anyone for her foray to the other side, but instead selected her soon-to-be-married client. And the married one is stupid enough to sleep with her co-worker multiple times without protection…hmm, I wonder what will happen there? In this man’s opinion, it’s frankly demeaning to women that these women are portrayed as so emotionally weak that they’re powerless to give in to their carnal desires in the workplace. Only the widow seems to have a somewhat traditional romance, but she might or might not be a bit batty with her belief that her dead husband is calling her every time she gets a phone call with nobody on the other end.

There are so many better shows that viewers could devote their time to in place of this mess. The plot threads are telegraphed out so far in advance that there are really no surprises to be had by continued viewing, and the characters ultimately become more tiresome than entertaining. However, viewers who want to struggle through will find plenty of content in this set. Although it’s housed in a standard single DVD case, they somehow managed to cram four full discs into it that contain all 12 hour-long episodes from Series 1 and 2. The bonus features are weak, containing only a brief featurette on the making of the show and some cast interviews.

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