[Warning: The following contains spoilers from the Season 4 premiere of Good Girls. Read at your own risk!]
Good Girls is officially back for Season 4, but Sunday's premiere episode confirmed that once again our trio is in a very big mess. The Secret Service is on their tail, and even though Phoebe (Lauren Lapkus) is the only one convinced that Beth (Christina Hendricks), Ruby (Retta), and Annie (Mae Whitman) are the ones behind the massive counterfeit scheme, Phoebe's superiors have officially set their sights on Dean (Matthew Lillard).
Beth, Ruby, and Annie, aren't aware of just how close they are to getting busted, which means they are only making things worse in the meantime. Annie is starting to feel rejected by Ben (Isaiah Stannard) as he is getting more comfortable with life at his new affluent private school and decided to offer herself to be on the hook for Lucy's (Charlyne Yi) murder instead of Beth. Meanwhile, Ruby discovered that her son is a genius and while we've yet to see exactly how that's going to complicate things, she and Stan (Reno Wilson) are not stoked about it.
That's all without mentioning they have a contract killer starting to get the hots for Beth and Rio (Manny Montana) continually squeezing the moms for more money. It is a giant mess of the most entertaining kind. TV Guide spoke to co-showrunners and executive producers Jenna Bans and Bill Krebs about what went down in the Season 4 premiere and what it means for the season going forward -- including an interesting development in Beth and Rio's relationship.
The premiere ends with the Secret Service deciding to go after Dean, even though Phoebe is sure it's Beth, which is kind of sexist. How does that set up the rest of the season?
Jenna Bans: Phoebe feels like the Secret Service, or at least the one she's sort of experiencing, is this old boys club, who sees Dean Boland name on all of the active accounts and immediately sort of assumes that he's the mastermind behind it. I think that ends up really informing a lot of the themes this season. There's a lot of fun sort of comedic men versus women themes running through the season. Dean himself sort of falls into a group of guys who really sort of want to take back the night in terms of fighting back against feminism -- men's rights, which is fun, and we play it for comedy. But, we always like to have something a little real underneath.
Bill Krebs: Dean believes that he's going through a victimization of men. He finds an unlikely group of people who agree with him.
Bans: These suburban dads sort of wrongly feel that they've been wrongly taken advantage of by the feminist movement...but we explore a lot of those themes throughout the season.
If you had told me in Season 1 that I would ever feel bad for Dean I would have laughed out loud, but here we are in Season 4 and I really do. He's trying so hard to make things right. What kind of wedge does it put in his marriage with Beth that he is trying so hard to do things the right way and Beth isn't nearly as successful?
Krebs: In terms of just storytelling, the idea of a husband who cheats on his wife, it's very easy to hate that person. And it's very easy to side with Beth in that situation, and to us, as we went forward, a lot of the discussion [was] that story sort of been told. It doesn't make it right, but it also in terms of originality, we've already been down those roads. This is a theme that we haven't been down -- what happens next in a family that had this hit them? What is the penance? How long do you have to go before you've redeemed yourself, or is there anything even worth redeeming? It's irredeemable and so we like keeping it very messy and having the situation sort of always turn on its head, seeing Beth's point of view...Beth has been with Rio now, a couple of times. And it's like, "Well, does cheating twice, is that gonna negate the fact that Dean cheated a few times?" We really like showing the dysfunction of the entire family unit, as opposed to sort of an easy sort of convenient way of just alienating Dean in the beginning. What we like to do is to really just torture him as much as possible along the way to make sure that it's hammered home that he messed up.
Bans: I think this season, what we're excited about in terms of the dynamic of their marriage, is that I think we're asking the fundamental question that the audience has asked a little bit since Season 1, since she found out he cheated, then he found out she has this relationship with a gang member: why are they together? And should they be together? ...You get together with your high school sweetheart, [that] doesn't mean you should be with them for the next 30 years.
Krebs: We actually have a very fun flashback sequence episode [later this season], where we meet Beth and Dean in high school, and we start to answer some of the questions of why they're together, and what the initial attraction was, to see the power of that. Can you hold on to that memory? How long does that memory last? And will it get you through these really horrible times?
Annie implies that she wants to be the one on the hook when it comes to the fingerprints on the gun that killed Lucy because Beth is a good mom to her four kids. Is that just an emotional decision on her part because she feels rejected by her son or is it a sign that Annie is maturing?
Krebs: I say both...She's been very impulsive and she always makes the bad decision. I think where we want to go with Annie this season is she actually is going to make the right decision and kind of realize that she doesn't need men to sort of kind of guide her life, to guide her path. So she ends up on a journey where she is sort of searching for her own sort of self-actualization and a weird way, trying to find maturity in a time when everything is sort of falling apart for her. She's really kind of growing up through this season.
It turns out that Ruby's son is a genius. Does he perhaps know more about what's going on than we'd expect?
Krebs: A lot of the kids are very smart on the show, and they're privy to a lot of the conversations that happen. Not to tease anything, but you know, we've really danced around what the kids know and what they don't know, and to what end that would be for the parents.
What are you most excited about coming up in the season?
Bans: I personally am looking forward to the complication that we bring into Beth and Rio's relationship, which is a really surprising figure-slash-associate to Rio. It's how the audience sort of realizes maybe Rio isn't the be-all-end-all of his criminal enterprise. There might be other people in the equation that might create a nice, juicy triangle...The fans, in terms of the the twisted romance between Beth and Rio, will really sort of get a kick out of the added person into that.
Krebs: We're also going to answer where some of Rio's swagger sort of comes from and originates -- how he's able to pull off a lot of things he does, how he gets away with everything, and where a lot of his style and personality sort of comes from.
Good Girls Season 4 continues Sundays at 10/9c on NBC. Seasons 1-3 are streaming on Netflix.