It's almost impossible to start writing about Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce Season 1 Episode 4. It was that good.
There are a million different directions this review can take and any and all of them would be completely valid. Once again, the hour was brilliantly funny and gut-wrenching at the same time. That it manages to pull both off so well, while still retaining the humanity and pathos of each character, is simply marvelous.
This was the big moment. While Abby wound up comparing the eventual reality of her situation with Nate to When Harry Met Sally, there was nothing rom-com about what happened between them. Why? Because rom-coms (with a couple exceptions, such as The Break-Up) don't often do gritty reality. Even Sally got her happy ending after the terrible sex with Harry.
If you've ever kindled a relationship digitally (don't be crass) and tried to bring it into the real world, you may have either been lucky and discovered your deep connection made your experience even more rewarding, or you may have been like Abby and Nate, who discovered the fantasy far surpassed the reality.
They were both so hopeful, but it was apparent pretty early on they were master conversationalists who would suffer a terrible fate as a result. First, life kept getting in the way, and then images of their exes (or their nipples) and finally each just talked too damn much when the other wanted silence.
It was difficult not to cringe at the artless path their sex was taking, but also impossible not to laugh as Nate wondered if Abby was telling him to stop because he was too big. His mouth, maybe, but only because of the constant narration and direction during the big event. The jackrabbit sex? Wow; the epitome of awkward! By morning, Abby had time to stew over what happened and decided their fumble was kind of romantic, given their intense emotional connection.
Mornings aren't for talking. They're for contemplating suicide.Nate
That their eventual decision not to move forward – although appreciating how they learned through each other their marriages weren't in trouble, but over – crested on a story about Nate shitting his pants when he received his Oscar for best screenwriting seemed oddly comforting. At least Abby knew she never, ever (ever) wanted to try to have sex with the man again.
Meanwhile, Max and Ford were being honored at the Family Equality Council Gala. It's funny, because earlier – while Max was struggling with his duties as a little league coach and a player's thumb problems – I was thinking what a dude he was. They're a beautiful example of a married gay couple because they don't play to stereotypes.
Except Max was feeling unappreciated by Ford, as many wives and mothers have done through the ages, for what he does for the kids and their home. Their roles are distinct, and yet not at all typical. The more feminine Ford provides for the family while manly Max cares for the children and family. There is an interesting symmetry that plays out because of it that was ruffled as Max started to believe Ford wanted to be married more than he wanted to be married to Max.
At the foundation of Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce is marriage. The speech Ford gave as he accepted their honor on behalf of them both, while assuaging his husband's fears, was perfect.
But I will say this, now that we are legally man and man and kid and kid, the shit gets real y'all. Ooo! Marriage, I mean, it's messy and it's hard and it ebbs and flows but that's because it is alive, and that is a good thing. That's what taking that vow is about, that when the fantasy is behind you, you look yourself in the eye and you say, 'I do.' I do, again and again. Max, I do. Always.Ford
Playing out in the ladies' room was an argument between Lyla and Phoebe about cheating and misunderstandings. Lyla being told she had anger issues was really starting to get to her, and although Phoebe was trying in her Phoebe way to help her friend, because she didn't understand from where the hurt was emanating, it just made things worse.
You don't understand. Dan is gone! We used to take care of each other and now he's probably going to take my children!Lyla
We've seen Lyla do some pretty nasty things to Dan. Knowing women, it's easy for me to understand from where those actions came, but it's not easy for everyone. Everybody rolls with punches a little differently. Lyla acts out aggressively instead of breaking down. Something tells me Dan knows this about her and that's part of why she was so thrown at their marriage ending.
Did you catch the reveal she made about an emotional affair and the damage it does – to Jake, Nate's wife and... Lyla? There is definitely more to the end of Dan and Lyla than we know as of yet. That's why she's been hard on Abby and why she freaked out a bit knowing Phoebe was with a married man. Anyone who does to someone else what was done to her, Lyla takes personally.
Lyla's quote above and her decision to go to a restaurant to try to find a similar meal to her favorite dish by Dan speaks volumes of the pain she's going through if you only take the time to see through her anger. She's going to surprise us all.
Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce is turning out to be so much more than expected. Considering the incredible team of Marti Noxon, Lisa Edelstein, Paul Adelstein and every other person involved with the series, it shouldn't come as a surprise, but it crept up onto my top ten list and is my favorite series currently airing (and I don't mean this week of Christmas!).
Other items of note:
- Despite my love for Jake, I didn't miss him this week, which proves the strength of the cast in its entirety. One person dropping out momentarily doesn't break the momentum.
- Are you Phoebe's friend? Lyla's reaction when she replied yes and got her little "reward" is making me laugh now as I think of it again. Good stuff.
- The appearance by Orange is the New Black's Laverne Cox worked really well.
- A little Delia goes a long way. Perhaps she'll grow on me as the series progresses.
- We saw C. Thomas Howell's ass; did we also see a little nip from the angle of Necar Zadegan's incredibly low-cut dress?
- Nate's usage of "reveal" when he told Abby he left his wife was so telling of the times we live in.
- Of course Phoebe was having a threesome. How else would she be helping a married couple fix their marriage?
So what did you think? I brace myself for everyone to light into poor Lyla weekly; is this week any different? Are any of the story arcs surprising you? Hit the comments!
If you haven't caught up yet, watch Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce online via TV Fanatic. You will not be sorry!
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Broadcast Television Journalists Association (BTJA), enjoys mentoring writers, wine, and passionately discussing the nuances of television. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.