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Good Girls: How one binge-worthy drama tanked their final season

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

If you’ve visited Netflix recently, you’ve likely noticed that Good Girls has been in the Top 10 section since the fourth season premiered on Aug. 31 just a few weeks back. The show, an American crime-drama produced by Jenna Bans, Dean Parisot and Jeannine Renshaw had a stellar viewership for its first season, hit its peak in second but fell short in the third one, leaving room for improvement. Since the third season ended on a cliffhanger, expectations were set high for the next one. To my demise, as much as I’ve raved about this series to both friends and family, I can’t deny that this time around, Good Girls was very lacklustre and stale — so here’s why.

The rundown

In summary, Good Girls follows the tale of three suburban moms: Annie, Beth and Ruby, each looking to overcome different obstacles in their everyday lives. Annie, played by Mae Whitman, is a single mom working at the local grocery store. Elizabeth ‘Beth’ Boland, played by Christina Hendricks, is a mother of four married to a cheating husband. Ruby Hill, played by Retta, is a waitress struggling to pay for her daughter’s surgeries. So, rather than getting a second job, what do they all do? They rob Annie’s grocery store in order to make ends meet. Seems like a piece of cake, right? Wrong.  

Nothing ever goes as planned for these moms, and practically right away, they find themselves in trouble with a sexy gang leader. (Oh yeah, ladies. If you haven’t watched this show yet, chances are you’ll watch it solely for Mr. Suave over here… kidding, the plot is pretty intense, but seeing him on the screen is always a bonus). Rio, played by Manny Montana, is your typical bad boy with a twist; a high-ranked tattoo-filled criminal with his own money laundering firm. In my opinion, he most definitely should be arrested for looking that handsome. 

Throughout each season, the moms feel as though they’ve almost reached the light at the end of the tunnel, the end of all the lies and secrecy, not to mention the end of their time with the handsome gang friend. However, to their dismay, new setbacks occur. Beth becomes the ringleader of the girl group, Annie’s life gets completely twisted around by her ex-husband, and more trouble seems to unfold especially in Ruby’s life; so much so that it leaves viewers, including myself on the edge of my seat, hoping and praying that my favourite characters would develop to their fullest potential before they were killed off — if they were killed off, that is. The show is a fan-favourite for dark humour and shows relatability to the working class. 

The finale of Season Three shows Beth and her husband Dean Boland, played by Matthew Lillard, purchasing a hot tub spa to use as a money laundering front. Not only that, but a certain Agent Donnegan and the Secret Service are hot on the moms’ trail. The cliffhanger is enough to leave viewers anxiously awaiting the next season, though I was hopeful that there might be a switch of narrative somewhere along the way — one where the girls wouldn’t get stuck trying to evade Rio again for another whole season.

The verdict 

We waited in anticipation for what seemed like forever before Season Four was released, and when it finally was, I almost regretted clicking ‘Play episode’ as fast as I did. Out of the 16 episodes, the first four or five went by alarmingly quickly. It reminded me of Season Two as the plot continued to thicken every so often. However, midway through the season, Good Girls lost its spark. For the most part, everything dragged; nothing would stay constant and I was losing track of what was happening. By the second-last episode, I was skipping through most parts and watching what I found to be important — which besides seeing Rio’s face on the screen and watching the ‘move’ to Nevada play out, was practically nothing. 

When it comes to the storyline itself, I would have loved to watch Beth and Rio’s love story play out more than it did (one scene in Abuela’s house is NOT enough for me), especially because Seasons One through Three were so hot and heavy. Beth and Rio’s sexual tension could have been cut with a knife in this season, provided the directors knew full well they could have developed further on the ‘hot and cold, back and forth’ business. Although Montana is a formidable actor, the characters’ story was stuck spinning around and around on the same hamster wheel as before.

What was interesting to see, however, was how Rio grew up. Season Four did give us flashbacks of Rio as a child, living and being brought up with his ‘brother-cousin.’ This was worth it to include and provided as the hook that the season desperately clung to in order to stay afloat. 

During Season Four, there are more opportunities to meet the rest of Rio’s family, including the ‘big boss’, his Abuela. Bringing Beth over for dinner shortly after making her his main girl (for possibly the tenth time in the history of the show) proved that their relationship was working upwards, but that was the last of it. The rest of the season ended up with Beth in a choosing battle between working with Rio or the Secret Service, which was honestly just pathetic to watch. If Beth actually learned from her crimes and stopped encouraging the girls to make the same mistakes they had been making for the past four seasons, maybe she wouldn’t have had to make that choice. The worst part? You wouldn’t even be surprised by who she picked. 

Then we have Annie, who often only faces greater challenges each new season — between her son Ben and her ex-husband, she’s got a lot to worry about. (Oh, and add in the homeless dude she’s sleeping with, who signed off as Ben’s guardian so that he could stay with her. Confused yet? Yeah, me too.) It seems as though the directors are so focused on always leaving her with the short end of the stick that they might not have emphasized her character development as much as they should have.

Lastly, we can’t forget dear Ruby. Thinking about it, between the club money and purse fiasco, her husband Stan plays a larger role in this season than she does and in nearly every episode he mentions how much he hates Beth. (Rightfully so, I mean, she was the reason Ruby got shot.) Either way, it’s not like I have nothing good to say about Ruby, but this time around, there was nothing different about her — she always lets someone else take the reins in nearly every situation. If I didn’t know better, I would almost think that she didn’t even want to be a part of any of the madness, but that’s just my opinion.  

Apart from the excruciatingly slow character development, a lot of what went on with the Secret Service was too back and forth for my liking; it seems like the directors trapped themselves in familiar territory, repeating the same kind of patterns as previous seasons — however, I do applaud the producers for the way they were able to keep viewers for so long. 

Shortly after I finished watching, I got word that the Fifth Season had been cancelled, making Season 4 Episode 16 the end of it all. Although I could be nit-picky and tell you that I wish there was a different ending to the show, the most likely alternative seems to be that the girls and Rio would likely just end up going around and around in circles until someone were to die — for real this time. We could have had ten seasons of the same thing and it just wouldn’t be suitable, so honestly I’ll thank the producers for ending this one when they did.

Altogether, my praise and love for Good Girls will always outweigh the qualms. I can’t promise you that Season Four will be up to par with the other strong seasons; however, it’s still watchable, to say the least. This series is more than a quick binge; it’s an hour-long television show where you actually see effort being put in to keep it going. Amid the chaos and the overly-complicated plot, one boring season doesn’t change the fact that the show rightfully earned its viewership. 

Madison was born in Toronto, ON. Her addiction to online shopping is best fuelled by a high daily caffeine intake. Fluent in both French and Spanish, Madison spends the majority of her time keeping busy by juggling a school, work and social life, all while making time to write/edit for HC- Ryerson! Often seen sporting Aritzia clothing, her knack for perfect grammar and love for Prison Break are what makes her "unique", but her articles are pretty cool, too.
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