American Woman premieres tonight on Paramount Network, and fans of everything from Mad Men to Golden Girls and even Real Housewives will find something to love about this ensemble comedy set in vintage ’75 Beverly Hills, complete with feathered hair and exquisite (if slightly questionable) fashion. Paramount Network’s second original scripted title following the hit drama Waco, this latest debut bodes well for the channel’s bold new direction, which also includes the launch of Kevin Costner’s Yellowstone in a mere two weeks.
Visually, the production quality of Thursday night’s newest series is simply stunning. Just as Mad Men made audiences long for sleek ’60s modern, American Woman offers up an equally inspiring visual feast of opulent ’70s chic. But don’t let the sets and costumes fool you: there’s definitely substance beneath the style.
As Bonnie, Clueless’s Alicia Silverstone plays a brassy mother with a Southern (maybe martini) drawl who struggles to support her children in the midst of a marriage crisis. However, Bonnie finds plenty of love and encouragement in her closest pals and confidantes, the Rose Nylund-ish Kathleen and Dorothy Zbornak-ish Diana (Mena Suvari and Jennifer Bartels). Cheyenne Jackson rounds out the main cast as Greg, Kathleen’s closeted boyfriend who’s as overeager to share that closet with Bonnie’s pool boy as he is to share in Kathleen’s abundant finances.
Inspired by the childhood of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Kyle Richards – rather, the experiences of Richards’ mother as part of the stalwart generation of liberated housewives free to put down the cocktail shaker and pick up a paycheck – the series explores the lives of Bonnie, Kathleen, and Diana (and Greg) and the ever-changing world around them with humor and honesty. Similarly, the pilot for Golden Girls originally featured Blanche, Rose, and Dorothy, plus a gay houseboy named Coco, though there’s nothing unwise about learning from yesteryear’s greats. The best character dynamics are universal; the best themes, too, keep their relevance. American Woman may be set in the ’70s, but even after decades of progress some difficult issues the show addresses remain, regrettably, timeless.
Luckily for today’s audiences, American Woman is wise enough to find the humor in life’s persistent uncertainties and injustices, just like every great show that’s come before it.
Don’t miss the premiere of American Woman tonight at 10pm ET on Paramount Network.