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'Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce' review: Bravo's scripted, superficial split-up

From left, Paul Adelstein, Conner Dwelly, Lisa Edelstein

From left, Paul Adelstein, Conner Dwelly, Lisa Edelstein and Dylan Schombing in a scene from "Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce," Bravo's first original scripted series, premiering Tuesday, Dec. 2. Credit: AP / Carole Segal

THE SHOW "Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce"

WHEN|WHERE Premieres Tuesday night at 10 on Bravo

WHAT IT'S ABOUT Abby McCarthy (Lisa Edelstein) is a hugely successful self-help author, married to Jake (Paul Adelstein), an unemployed director struggling to find a new project. Then, the marriage explodes: He's dating a starlet; she turns to her BFFs, Lyla (Janeane Garofalo) and Phoebe (Beau Garrett), for support. The other problem with that divorce, besides the impact on her two kids -- it also threatens to explode her image as America's expert on all things family.

MY SAY "Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce" is exactly what you'd expect Bravo's first scripted series to be. And, as a bonus -- or not -- you get to see Lisa Edelstein do and say things that I'm pretty certain she never did or said over eight seasons of "House." Sex is rampant and casual, along with plenty of colorful anatomical words to accessorize the gymnastics.

Production values are reasonably high, too, which is to be expected with showrunner Marti Noxon ("Buffy, the Vampire Slayer") at the helm. She knows how to write lines of dialogue that pop and draw blood -- sometimes at the same time.

But there's a gaping hollowness at the core of this glittery enterprise, and a bitterness, too. You're almost left to wonder whether "Girlfriends" knows or cares that these are the sorts of characters the rest of the culture has turned on with a vengeance -- spoiled, entitled, self-absorbed, oversexed whiners.

There are moments, fleeting ones, when the show drifts into send-up territory. Then the horns are hastily withdrawn, perhaps recognizing this is Bravo, after all, home of "The Real Housewives" franchise.

Instead, "Girlfriends" totters between tones and moods -- comedy, drama, happy, sad, silly, serious -- then lands especially hard when the subject turns to that word in the title. Few divorces are pleasant, but the sharp, nasty scenes between Abby and Jake are the only emotionally honest moments over the first two episodes. Not surprisingly, they're the best ones, too. A shame the antagonists are so unlikable.


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