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.