warning Hi, we've moved to USCANNENBERGMEDIA.COM. Visit us there!

Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

'Mistresses' Premiere Review

Reid Nakamura |
June 4, 2013 | 12:35 a.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

The cast of "Mistresses" (ABC)
The cast of "Mistresses" (ABC)

While summer TV is typically reserved for unaired episodes of cancelled series and second-string reality competition shows, “Mistresses” was picked up by ABC with the specific intention of airing during the off-season. ABC Family has been successful with its year-round programming, and ABC seems to be trying to bring some of that to network television.

“Mistresses” revolves around four women, each of whom are either a mistress or mistress-adjacent. Yunjin Kim plays Karen, a psychiatrist dealing with the death of her lover and patient. She reunites with her three friends, Savi, played by Alyssa Milano, a successful lawyer struggling to get pregnant; April, played by Rochelle Aytes, a widow and mother of two looking to get back into the dating game; and Jes Macallan’s Josslyn, Savi’s slutty and irresponsible younger sister.

With its soapy drama and its primarily female cast, “Mistresses” has much in common with an ABC Family series besides its premiere date. If it weren’t for all the sex—and there’s a lot of sex“Mistresses” could easily slip into the ABC Family Lineup. In the first episode, the women find themselves dealing with many of the same relationship problems as the girls of “Pretty Little Liars.” There’s lots of infidelity, a May-December romance, and one of the women even gets a phone call from beyond the grave. The way the four mistresses run around making bad decisions, the show may as well have been named “Pretty Big Liars" (it would be no more offputting than "Mistresses").

Its ABC Family sensibility is more of an asset to “Mistresses” than it is a liability. It’ll draw comparisons to “Desperate Housewives,” but the drama has an easy realism that grounds the show, forgoing the quirk and outlandishness of “Housewives.” Rather than a voyeuristic look into the sordid lives of neighbors, “Mistresses” is a more intimate affair, similar to a conversation with friends. The older female audience that the show is aimed at will probably find it easy to identify with the likable cast and find themselves invested in the drama.

The relatable performances of the leads are the show’s strongest asset. While they’re often forced to deliver stilted dialogue and become tired clichés, Yunjin Kim and Alyssa Milano manage to sell the material of the pilot. It’s hard not to wonder why Kim’s character, a highly educated psychiatrist, needs a lawyer to explain to her that sleeping with a patient is a bad idea, but the chemistry between the women lends to a believable friendship that makes it irrelevant.

If “Mistresses” can extend past the cliched storytelling of its pilot and bring the relationships between the four women to the forefront, it could become a show capable of drawing the audience to the summer that ABC wants.

Reach staff reporter Reid Nakamura here.



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.