A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Why Women Kill is a soapy drama about wives in three eras who suffer through betrayals and react strongly to them. With the word "kill" in the title, viewers should expect murder and death, though violence is often played for laughs and depicted with a light tone. The show's animated opening series shows women murdering men bloodily, and self-harm plays a part in the narrative, with at least one character attempting suicide and others making jokes about suicide (she's so jealous of someone's house she could just kill herself!). In another scene, two characters brawl on a lawn and one blames her behavior on being drunk. Sexual content is also mature: One couple has a polyamorous relationship and engages in group sex (we see them kissing in a shower but no private parts), and extramarital affairs (same- and opposite-sex) are the catalyst for many events. Language is mature: "F--k," "s--t," "bitch," and other expletives are generally used for comic effect and emphasis, as are words about body parts ("d--k," "t-ts"). In the 1960s, a character eats marijuana brownies and has a psychedelic experience. Strong women anchor this drama, and women in their 30s, 40s, and 50s have central roles.
What's the story?
In one elegant house in three different eras, three very different wronged women learn exactly WHY WOMEN KILL. First, in the mid-'60s, Beth Ann Stanton (Ginnifer Goodwin) tries hard to be the perfect housewife -- but her efforts are unraveled by the extramarital adventures of her thoughtless husband, Robert (Sam Jaeger). Then, in the 1980s, much-married socialite Simone Grove (Lucy Liu) is undone when she discovers that her husband, Karl (Jack Davenport), has a big secret, and then embarks on a scandalous affair. Finally, modern couple Taylor Harding (Kirby Howell-Baptiste) and Eli Cohen (Reid Scott) have an unconventional arrangement that goes awry when the balance of power shifts in their relationship.
Is it any good?
Peppy, arch, and inordinately charming, Marc Cherry's new series reads as if his Desperate Housewives were given the freedom to curse -- and to kill. Once again, Cherry's winning formula of mixing great actors with devious doings in elegant suburban surroundings is, well, quite winning. Viewers' first reactions to seeing Goodwin and Liu might be something like nostalgic delight: It's been a while since Big Love and Ally McBeal were hits, and fans of either or both of those well-loved shows may want to send up a silent prayer of thanks that creators like Cherry and Ryan Murphy are fond of casting female actors of a certain age, who may have been passed over by Hollywood but can still give material that bam-pow-zing.
As a sad wife turned sneaky conspirator, Goodwin is easily as effective as she was as a newbie sister-wife on Big Love. And Liu still has a way with nasty lines: "You think you're going to get out of this by dying?" she demands of another character who's swallowed a bottle of pills after an upset. "I want to see you suffer in a one-bedroom apartment by the airport, and you are no going to deny me that pleasure!" But for those who haven't caught her turns on Killing Eve, The Good Place, or Barry, Kirby Howell-Baptiste is a surprise, bringing intelligence and warmth to her could-be-off-putting character, a bisexual hard-as-nails lawyer in an open marriage who moves her latest lover into her marital home -- and soon regrets it. Her American accent (she's English) is impeccable, and so is her performance. Buckle up, fans of female-centered cockeyed drama: Why Women Kill is for you.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the main characters. Are they positive or negative role models? How are they stereotypical -- and how do they defy those stereotypes? How do they get power in their lives? What do they get from each other?
What kinds of consequences would the behavior on this show have in real life? Is it enjoyable to watch likable characters getting away with behaviors both frowned upon (extramarital affairs, lying) and downright criminal (violence)?
What is a soap opera? Where does the name come from? How does that concept change if the show is meant to be viewed in prime time, by a mass audience? Shows in this genre are frequently aimed at female viewers. What elements of Why Women Kill seem targeted to appeal to women?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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