October 17, 2008

The Starter Wife is Now a Series on USA

The Starter Wife was a fun and trashy mini-series that aired last year and now they've brought the characters back for a new series of 13 episodes on USA. The show works because of the great chemistry between the lead characters especially the appeal of Debra Messing who has been missing from series TV since the demise of Will & Grace. She plays Molly Kagan the first wife of a Hollywood mogul who struggles to find her place after the demise of her marriage in a town where the only thing that matters is status. The amazing Judy Davis returns as Joan, one of Molly's best friends, a recovering alcoholic and Chris Diamantopoulos plays the gay guy friend (of course he's an interior designer). The series premiered last weekend (there are a lot of repeats during the week) and continues tonight at 10 on USA.

Executive Producers and screenwriters Sara Parriott & Josann McGibbon answered some questions on the series:

Women & Hollywood: Why did you decide to take such a successful mini series and turn it
into an ongoing series?

Sara & Josann: We love these characters - especially Molly. When we were asked to make this into a series we jumped on it. We knew that we had a lot of material in this premise - divorce, raising kids in a divorce, rediscovering oneself, mature dating. Basically a world we live in every day.
W&H: The cast is fantastic. I think the friendship between Molly, Joan and Rodney is much stronger in this incarnation. Was that intentional?
S&J: Not intentional but a product of knowing these characters even better. Coming into the series we already had their voices and their particular foibles down pat. How they interact and where their arguments would come from. It was a matter of exploring what we had to define in the mini-series.
W&H: How the heck did you get Judy Davis to commit to a series? It is a huge coup and she is spectacular.
S&J: I think her Emmy had a lot to do with it.
W&H: Debra Messing's character could easily have come off as a caricature of a first wife which we have seen so many times before. How hard is it to keep it out of that danger zone?
S&J: We try to make her problems every divorced woman's problems. But, of course, these problems are in a wish fulfillment world. She has to learn how to date post divorce and juggle parenting within that. She needs to find a way to make a living. Her heartbreaks are the same as any divorced mom and her fumblings at dating are every woman's. We concentrated on these things instead of revenge or "being poor" or less rich, in this case.
W&H: What message do you think the series sends to women?
S&J: There is life after divorce. You aren't just an ex-wife but a woman in your own right.
W&H: Do you think Molly is a feminist?
S&J: A refined feminist. One who must face the practical fact of having a libido and needing to make peace with an ex-husband for the sake of her child. A feminist who can compromise even as she struggles to separate herself from the "wife-of" role - to stand and even do better on her own.
photo ID: Sara Parriott (left), Josann McGibbon (right)