The initial premise of Good Girls sounded more like a movie than a broadcast drama: Three women struggling to keep their family afloat rob a grocery store in order to make ends meet, only to find out they've stolen money from a local cartel that intends to collect. Yet executive producers Jenna Bans and and Bill Krebs have managed to turn what sounded like a two-hour melodrama into one of the most addictive shows on TV.
As the NBC dark comedy enters Season 3, Ruby (Retta), Beth (Christina Hendricks), and Annie (Mae Whitman) are excited about the prospect of working for themselves, laundering their own counterfeit bills after cartel boss Rio (Manny Montana) was allegedly killed in the Season 2 finale. Unbeknownst to the trio, there's a chance that Rio may have survived the three gunshot holes Beth put in his torso, but even if Rio is truly dead, working for themselves is going to be much more complicated than the trio imagined.
That's the beauty of this show, really. Every move the women make to get themselves out of a life of crime only seems to take them deeper into it. Each step forward lands them two steps back, or two steps closer to jail. The ever increasing moral complexity of their situation keeps lending to juicier and juicier stories as we follow them on this adventure. But the intrigue isn't purely in whether they'll survive their next business venture. It's also in how the moral grey area they are working in also creates more intricate character dynamics, not only between the three women, but between them and the people they love the most.
Season 2 almost saw Ruby's family unit implode as Stan (Reno Wilson) was questioned for her crimes. She was supposed to be done with the counterfeit game to avoid putting Stan, or herself, in more danger, but Ruby will now struggle to go back to a "scraping by" kind of lifestyle. She's sick of working to the bone for other people, an understandable mindset, but is it really worth the risk of sending her or her husband to jail to have a couple of extra zeroes in the bank account? She seems to think so, which once again puts their marriage on precarious ground as the audience flip flops on who to support in the situation when both have equally valid points of view.
Annie isn't that much better off. Yes, she was able to get the money she needed to get her trans son the hormones he needed for his transition, and she has come to an amicable custody agreement with Greg (Zach Gilford). However, hormones aren't a one time purchase, and Annie has to decide if she wants to keep living a double life as her kid gets older and is starting to see through Annie's lies. Always the impulsive one of the group, Annie has to start thinking about the future and what kind of role model she wants to be for the person she fought so hard to raise -- an evolution we're excited to see unfold.
Perhaps the most confused about what kind of person they want to be is Beth, who had to learn the hard way last season that she doesn't actually have what it takes to be a boss -- at least not in the way Rio runs an organization. While she may not agree with Rio's methods, it's clear as day that he ran a clean and tidy ship instead of the chaotic mess that Beth considers herself handling. Beth isn't content going back to school bake sales and being a soccer mom, so where does that leave her? Is there actually such thing as a professional counterfeiter and money launderer who is also a good person?
The richness of the girls going into entrepreneurship comes from the fact that they have to face these conundrums not because Rio or the FBI are forcing them to, but because they're actively choosing to stay in this business. The turned tables may make it harder for these women to sleep at night, but it still makes for damn good TV.
TV Guide Rating: 4/5
Good Girls Season 3 premieres Sunday, Feb. 16 at 10/9c on NBC. The first two seasons are also on Netflix.