I’ll be honest, I’ve watched Mistresses since the very beginning, but if you’d have told me this quaint little summer soap would make it to four seasons, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. I certainly had my doubts after Alyssa Milano departed, but it’s here and it’s still chugging along despite relatively mediocre ratings and plots that are nowhere near as dishy as its plethora of soapy counterparts on ABC .
“The New Girls” was no exception. For a premiere it was considerably muted. It picked up a year later from where it left off. Joss, after being wrongfully accused of conspiracy and murder of Calista’s husband, testifies in court against Wilson, the real killer and man who attacked her in the finale. We’re not really given much on what happened the night of the attack, or how she got away unscathed, but we are left with after effects.
Joss spends the entire episode (and apparently spent the entire year) throwing herself into work. It’s one of a few signs we’re given that she’s suffering from PTSD. She refuses to talk about what she endured, she calls the police on Harry when he surprises her with an early return, she flinches anytime anyone touches her, she had mysterious bruises on her torso that were later revealed to be the result of her new secret kickboxing hobby, and she refuses to see any of the therapists Karen has lined up for her.
I understand the concern for her. She’s clearly a more jaded Joss. But she also has never been so together either. She’s work-oriented and successful. She’s newly engaged (Yes, Harry pops the question on the moonlit beach towards the end of the episode but it feels rather anti-climactic). She’s taken on a physical hobby, self defense. She’s struggling, but she’s also trying to work through it too, and not everyone copes the same way. It’ll be interesting to see her work through PTSD. It seems that will be her primary plot this season, along with dealing with whatever indiscretion may have happened with Harry and whomever while he was away doing his cooking show in Europe. Something was alluded to when Harry had one one on one time with Marc, and there was emphasis on an expensive watch that he got for himself. I have a feeling there was more to Harry being secretive when he returned than his keeping his proposal a surprise. That and being engaged to her sister’s ex-husband will surely have its effects on an already rattled Joss this season.
A year later gives us a post-baby, single mother Karen, with a fresh new “mom do.” Admittedly I found the polyamorous relationship Karen had, easily the most interesting plot last season. Not to mention the closest any of the Mistresses came to being an actual mistress in quite some time. Clearly, Karen felt the same way, as part of her grieving process after the death of Vivian included writing a book of her sexual escapades, adding author to her resumé along with sex therapist and single mom. In the moment that made me regret the time jump, we’re told that Alec, the remaining partner of her throuple, and father of her child, was so distraught after his wife died that he left shortly after to join Doctors without Borders, leaving Karen and then unborn baby Vivian (named after the late Vivian) alone.
I loathed this throwaway story. It was such a terrible way to wrap up one of the shows most interesting plots. I heard that the actor who played Alec was unable to return, however I found this rather distasteful and extremely unsatisfying. He was a character who definitely was rough around the edges but running away and abandoning his child before she was even born, was not something I could imagine his character doing (wasn’t he an OBGYN too?) And certainly felt like a poorly executed cop out. I still hope there’s room for him to return someday, even if it’s not romantically for Karen (new “Manny” played by Jerry O’Connell seems like he’ll take on that role this season. He already went in for a kiss, unprompted, and seems enamored), I’d like to see him with his child. Baby Vivian is adorable!
So far motherhood seems to agree with Karen. Even if it makes for awkward moments like leaking breastmilk during a book reading. Her career as an author might actually take off. Especially now that the woman Joss practically harassed, Barbara, played by Tia Mowry, agreed to work with her.
Speaking of work, it’s pretty evident that Marc’s work, or lack thereof, will be a source of contention this season between he and April. A year of living together, it was only a matter of time before the “honeymoon stage” would be over. April has always been the “mom friend.” She babies, she coddles, she worries and micromanages and tries to have everything under control. It’s a wonder most of her storylines tended to revolve around parenting her daughter Lucy. That hasn’t changed much. Teenaged Lucy, slightly less angsty than she was last season thank God, has grown up and even gone on an overnight trip to DC with her school. This doesn’t stop April from stalking her Instagram and texting and calling her whenever she can. Inquiring about pictures with boys and worrying as April does best. Lucy is growing up and April can’t quite deal.
Fortunately for her she’s dating a man-child. Now don’t get me wrong, I love Marc and I was rooting for those two to get together. But now that reality has set in, it’s going to be a heck of a road with someone as controlled as April and someone so carefree like Marc.
Marc has been spending the year working a few jobs to earn his keep and prepare himself for attending school. His goal (for the moment) is to obtain a Counseling Degree so he can counsel recovering alcoholics/addicts like himself. It’s a plan they both agreed on and April seemed perfectly content supporting it and him, until Marc’s side job of giving guitar lessons reminds him that he wants to pursue his dreams with the band he’s a part of and become a Rockstar. That unfortunately involves putting the counseling thing on hold.
April took this news as well as anyone who likes plans takes it. She hated it, and eventually let him know. But between that and realizing she’s too in tuned to her daughter she concluded that maybe she’s not upset at him for following his dreams. Maybe she’s jealous because she used to be an artist with dreams herself, that she put off pursuing when she became a mom.
Here’s the thing, while there is perhaps some merit to her needing to rediscover herself and her inner artist now that she doesn’t have to “mom” so much, it still doesn’t change the fact that Marc is being too irresponsible. It seems like a regression of his character, as he was introduced to us as a lovable man-child learning how to grow up and take care of a kid (his nephew) . I feel like April was within reason to be concerned. Marc is in a committed, long-term relationship with a single mom with a teen daughter. By no means is he expected to be perfect, but he does need to have it somewhat together and this plan of his is impractical.
Maybe, hopefully, some of Harry’s gumption will rub off on him, though who knows if that will be a good thing? Marc is a character I like but it seems like there is trouble on the horizon with this jobless, rock band dream of his,and of course the very real fear of him relapsing is imminent. I like his relationship with Harry too, but in general this show tends to really drop the ball with its male characters. They don’t always appear as if they serve a purpose. Their individual storylines tend to be weak and make them seem like disposable characters and it doesn’t have to be that way.
For example, Harry has been around since the first season and managed the near impossible feat of obtaining sole custody of his wife’s friends. I get that he’s Joss’ Beau now,but he’s just as immersed in the Mistress world as the women, and I’d love to see him actually have relationships and friendships with the girls too. We’re told he was always close with April and Karen, but we rarely see them interact like good friends. Those would be interesting relationships to explore. Fingers crossed that we’ll see that this season.