Girlfriends: The Second Season
R1 - America - Paramount Home Entertainment / CBS TV
Review written by and copyright: Pat Pilon (7th November 2007).
The Show

The best way to describe this show to someone who's never heard of it before is this way: it's like a PG-13 'Sex and the City' starring Diana Ross's daughter. The show follows four somewhat jet-setting friends as they tackle love, friendship and life. The show, though, is in LA, not New York, but that's hardly important. (What's more important is that one of the characters even gets chlamydia!) The four friends are Joan (Tracee Ellis Ross), the relatively level-headed one, Lynn (Persia White), the trampy one, Toni (Jill Marie Jones), the more conservative one and Maya (Golden Brooks), the sharp-tongued one. These four girls have a friend, William (Reggie Hayes), who acts as the only steady male in the series.

I actually watched the first season when it originally played, and I was surprised to realise the show has been going on ever since. With as of this writing its 8th season underway, the show hit its stride and spoke to its target demographic. Here, in its second season, the show has a lot more of a serious subject matter than what I remember. It deals with some hefty issues in relation to friendship and marriage. Cheating, lying and keeping secrets are not uncommon in this show.

Something that's not really seen much in sitcoms is continuity. These episodes flow together much more than regular comedies. Every little arc is a few episodes long, but some jokes relating to earlier events find themselves in later episodes (like the comments about 'The Fallout'), and the whole Stan subplot (from 'Maya Takes a Stan' to the season finale!). ('Can't Stan Ya!' even makes a reference to 'The Burning Vagina Monologues' from season one!) These arcs are more on the serious side, but the show is definitely a comedy from the start.

Though it deals with some big subjects, the tone is always light and the writing is sometimes sharp. The level of writing is pretty consistent, and not up to the level of say, 'Sex and the City' and even 'Friends'. Some laughs are always extracted from every situation, and I'm sure the show speaks to its target demographic more than it does me. Having said that, I enjoyed the season and laughed a lot.

On the other hand, my favorite character, Lynn, with her 'threesomes, foursomes and moresomes', sometimes comes off as a bit one-dimensional. The same goes for the other characters. Though there are always moments that try to humanise everybody (which, generally work pretty well), the characters usually revert to their old selves in the next episode, which, for a show with continuity, shows a small shortcoming in the writing.

Overall, the characters are pretty realistic, for the most part, and there's a genuine love for the characters by the writers. They care about who they're writing about and there's no meanness or malice towards anybody. Even when lying and cheating are around, the characters are looking out for others. There are no standout episodes, but all of them are enjoyable, with a pretty nice finale.

Here's a breakdown of the season by disc.

disc 1:
The Fallout (21:18)
After the events of season one's finale, Joan and Toni here have a hard spell.

Just Say No (21:26)
Joan's therapy continues and she and Toni try to patch things up. Joan here learns to say 'No'. In the process, she doesn't become the nicest friend.

A Full Court Conspiracy (21:27)
After a basketball star accuses a beverage company of something, the company sues him, and the four girls take different sides. Joan, as the lawyer who represents the company, becomes the centre of attention.

Un-Treatable (21:25)
Maya buys an expensive dress, which causes problems with her husband. Meanwhile, Joan decides to call it quits with her long-distance boyfriend.

Buh-Bye (21:25)
After Toni does something she shouldn't have, it's the last straw for Joan, and Joan ends their friendship.

Willie or Won't He? (21:29)
Joan starts getting involved in William and his fiancé's affairs, which isn't what she wants to do. At the same time, Lynn and her boyfriend and Maya and her husband have dinner together.

Trick or Truth? (21:29)
This is the Halloween episode. The events of the past couple of episodes come to a head, as Toni asks Joan for help.

disc 2:
Joan's Birthday Suit (21:25)
It's Joan's 30th birthday and she celebrates it with her best friends. She also realises she hasn't had a particularly exciting life.

Maya Takes a Stan (21:25)
Maya makes a friend in Stan, and thinks he'd be a good match for Joan, who's not looking for anybody right now.

Mom's the Word (21:11)
Joan gets a pager number from a television star, which she thinks is a good thing, and Toni gets a date with a hot guy who happens to have an 8-year-old daughter.

You Better Watch Out (21:19)
The Christmas episode! Varying people exchange various gifts with varying levels of happiness.

I Have a Dream House (21:25)
William wants to surprise his fiancé by buying them a house without telling her.

Sister, Sistah (21:27)
Lynn's sisters come to visit and meet the girlfriends, and the friends aren't too impressed.

Willie or Won't He, II: The Last Chapter? (21:26)
The countdown to the wedding day is getting small and William and his fiancé have some bumps to get over.

Can't Stan Ya! (21:26)
Maya's fling is getting crazier and crazier, and she has to deal with what she did.

disc 3:
Take Me Out After the Ballgame (21:26)
The company hires a cute, new mail guy, and Joan likes him. Unfortunately, he's kind of young for the gang.

Childs in Charge (21:25)
Joan and Toni go through a rough patch when Toni wants to open up her own real estate office.

Taming of the Realtess (21:23)
Toni has to prepare for the grand opening of her new office, and she goes through assistants pretty quickly.

X Does Not Mark the Spot (21:26)
Partying at a club with her young boyfriend, Joan inadvertently takes some ecstasy. I find this episode kind of strange because this type of episode usually happens when the characters on the show are much younger.

My Mother, Myself (21:23)
William's mother comes to visit him. If you know the series, enough said. The girlfriends also make/have plans for mother's day.

Just Dessert (21:23)
William and Lynn meet their respective exes and feel lonely, so they decide to be sex friends, which, as anyone may guess, doesn't turn out to everybody's advantage.

Into the Woods (21:25)
Joan's ex comes back to New York to tell her something. Maya and her husband have small troubles. This is a pretty emotional season finale.

Video

1.33:1 full screen. The picture does look a bit soft for a fairly recent TV show. It's also a bit grainy, but other than that, it's a good picture. The colours and their separation are pretty good, making the level of detail pretty good. The darker scenes are fairly murky, with some noise here and there. Compression is rather good and there isn't any edge enhancement. Overall, the picture is nice, but nothing too exciting.

Audio

The show only comes in a Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo track, in English. For a sitcom, the only important thing is the dialogue and here, this is not a problem. Everything is clear and audible, and the dialogue is never drowned out by anything. The laugh track is never overpowering and the music is at a good level. The track doesn't seem to have changed much since its television days.
There are no subtitles.

Extras

This is a nice upgrade from the first season, which had no extras to speak of. Disc one has a few things. One is a bunch of Previews for the 'Beverly Hills 90210' and 'Melrose Place' DVDs (0:54), as well as the 'CSI:MIami', 'CSI', 'Numbers', 'NCIS', 'Medium' and 'The 4400' sets (1:47).

As for real extras, disc one also has the We All Fall Down: A Closer Look at 'Trick or Truth?' featurette (15:29). It focuses on this pivotal episode. The creator of the show comes in and discusses the importance of the episode, the character arcs and how the episode was handled. The actors come in and talk about how important the episode is for their character. This is a very nice substitute for an episode commentary.

Disc two has nothing, but the third disc also has a few featurettes. Creating the Show (17:47) has the creator, executive producers and stars talking about making the show. Mara Brock Akil (the creator) talks about she got the project off the ground and the two executive producers talk about their involvement. The actors talk about Miss Akil and how great the writing, the realism is, as well as how risqué the show is throughout the season. It's a nice featurette, if a bit short on depth.

Getting the Girls Together (19:24) is next and this featurette is about the casting. Here, the creator and actors go through each of the characters. The actors recount how they got the job. Miss Akil tells you how hard or easy it was to cast the role. Apparently, William was written specifically for Reggie Hayes, while Toni was the hardest role to cast.

There's also an Episode Guide, which is a text guide with detailed synopses for every episode of the season. It'll be a nice way to catch up when season three roles around.

Overall

The Show: B- Video: B- Audio: B Extras: C+ Overall: B-

 


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