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‘Good Girls’ review: Suburban moms gone bad is weak homage to ‘Thelma & Louise’

Christina Hendricks, as Beth, Mae Whitman as Annie,

Christina Hendricks, as Beth, Mae Whitman as Annie, and Retta as Ruby clean up on aisle seven in "Good Girls," new on NBC/4. Credit: NBC / Steve Dietl

THE SERIES “Good Girls”

WHEN | WHERE Premieres Monday at 10 p.m. on NBC/4

WHAT IT’S ABOUT Three suburban moms and besties have had it. Ruby (Retta, “Parks & Recreation”) needs thousands of dollars for her little girl, who must have a kidney transplant. Annie’s (Mae Whitman, “Parenthood”) creep of an ex wants to launch a custody battle. Beth (Christina Hendricks, “Mad Men”) finds out her creep of a husband is cheating on her. They need money and a lot of it, fast. What to do? What suburban moms (and besties) have always done: Launch a life of crime. But robbing the local grocery store where Annie works has consequences.

MY SAY “Good Girls” is “Thelma & Thelma & Louise.”

Or “Louise & Louise & Thelma.”

Your choice. It doesn’t really matter though. The same holds basically true for either — the balance of personalities, the repression, the spontaneity. Thelma represented suppression in that 1991 movie. Louise was the “express yourself” proponent who shot the rapist, drove the getaway car and stood the whole male chauvinist-dominated world on its chauvinist ear. Beth, Annie and Ruby are parts of both, in different measure (Annie and Beth more Louise, Ruby more Thelma).

NBC points out that there’s some “Breaking Bad” in here, too. You’re on your own figuring out who Walter White is, but the gangbangers do arrive in the pilot. There’s also a distant reflection of the 1996 hit, “Set it Off,” starring Jada Pinkett Smith, Queen Latifah, Vivica A. Fox and Kimberly Elise as four pals who rob a bank, and a more recent reflection of the HBO hit, “Big Little Lies,” which was also about female empowerment, and sisterhood, forged on the dark undercurrent of male sexual deviance which can (and does) turn violent.

“Good Girls” has studied the book on all this, and if it hasn’t copied passages, the homage is in boldface. As locked-and-loaded Beth stops a rape in progress, she says, “when a lady screams ‘stop’ it is usually because she’s not having the time of her life.” That, of course, echoes Louise’s famous Dorothy Parkerism, that “in the future, when a woman is crying like that, she isn’t having any fun.”

And when a review is about other movies and shows instead of the show it’s supposed to be about, you can reasonably assume there’s something wrong with that show. There is: “Good Girls” understands the genre (revenge fantasy) and source material (see above) but hasn’t the slightest idea what to do with it. Ridley Scott’s direction turned “T&L” into an amped-up road caper movie, with a spectacular header into the Grand Canyon as both catharsis and feminist diktat. “Good Girls” wants some of that vitality, and all of that message, but just doesn’t seem like it wants to go to the trouble of earning it.

BOTTOM LINE Strong on homage, weak on originality — or logic.

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