The Unexpected Intrigue (And Totally Expected Banality) Of 'The Starter Wife'

Unless you've been living in a cave, there has been no safe place from the unrelenting promos for USA Network miniseries The Starter Wife (brought to you by Ponds! In case you haven't heard!). And, just as we read the tabs so you don't have to, we watched all two hours of last night's premiere installment of this highly confused concoction. Here's our take: Despite the utter banality of the show (and its tie-in website, which has message boards structured for real divorcees to share their stories), there's something weirdly appealing about The Starter Wife's characters, whose problems are repressed with help from so much booze and sex that we feel like teetotaling virgins in comparison. Anyway, after the jump, our helpful recap and character summary for those who didn't tune in.

Molly Kagan (Debra Messing): Molly was a poor girl who had bushy eyebrows and bad hair until she met now-ex Kenny Kagan. He taught her about sushi and next thing you know, the girl was in love. Flash forward to the present, and Molly is a poor, impeccably-groomed 40-something with a young daughter, a husband who dumped her, and an existential crisis to deal with. Every 15 minutes or so, Molly makes a comment about what good hair she has and how fat she's getting... and we struggle to empathize.

Kenny Kagan (Peter Jacobson): He's the ex. He's a creep. He don't really get why Molly ever married him to begin with, other than the whole sushi-lesson thing. The movie opens with him calling Molly from the treadmill and asking her to pick up dog shit. No, really. Also, he kinda looks like Jon Lovitz.

Joan McAllister (the brilliant Judy Davis): Joan is Molly's friend. She is a WASP. She has a much older husband. She is a drunk. We suspect she's also a drag queen.

Cricket Stewart (Miranda Otto): Cricket is also a friend of Molly, only, after Molly gets dumped, Cricket's husband says the two can't be friends. Then the husband sleeps with the nanny.

Lavender (Anika Noni Rose): Lavender is the security guard [Of course she is! She's black! -Ed.] in the gated Malibu community where Molly has fled post-split. Lavender is working to put herself through UCLA, just as Molly once had. She is also supposedly from the "wrong side of the tracks. [Of course she is! She's black! -Ed.]

Rodney (Chris Diamantopoulos): Rodney is Molly's friend and her interior decorator. Not surprisingly, he is also gay.

So what happened during the long-winded 2-hour premiere? Molly weighed herself. A lot. Her husband dumped her. She fled to Malibu. She started liking her ex-husband's boss. She started liking a mean dude she spied on the beach who was, in addition to being mean, really, really secretive. Her friends were strangely absent. Molly made fun of them. And then, in the last 30 seconds of the premiere — spoiler alert! — the ex's boss stood Molly up on a date to... commit suicide. (We think.) Yeah, we were shocked and awed too. So much so that, sadly, we'll be tuning in next Thursday to continue to figure out this dirty, drunken mess.
The Starter Wife [USA Network]
The Starter Wife [iVillage.com]