Goodbye, Trophy Wife

News of Trophy Wife’s premature cancellation at the end of its first season hit Twitter (and my email inbox) as I was rewatching the latest episode, “Back To School,” to take notes for when I would sit down and write my blog post about it. Coming at the end of an episode where Kate, Jackie, and Hillary bare their insecurities about their accomplishments and Kate hints at going back to college to finish her degree, the timing felt particularly cruel.

Reading back over my first post about the show, which I started covering four episodes into the season, I have to say the writers delivered on everything I hoped to see for the characters and then some.

I’d hoped that we’d get to see Kate do more than make breakfast and do laundry, and she did. Not only were her relationships with her husband, stepkids, and Jackie and Diane explored, but we saw her attempting to branch out and make more mom friends (which sadly didn’t seem to work out, but she has a big family to fall back on now too). She even briefly tried starting a business with Jackie, which turned out like many of Jackie’s businesses seem to, but I did appreciate seeing Kate’s real business acumen. And as mentioned earlier, we got to see the beginnings of what Kate would have dove into in a second season, like going back to school or perhaps going back to work. Malin Akerman gave Kate the heart, humor, and wit that subverted every negative trope about trophy wives.

Pete’s Judicial Erotica (“it’s not Legal Porn!”) was mentioned more than once, and Bradley Whitford always brought his best dimple game, so color me pleased. Whitford is legitimately a joy to watch. Pete’s freak flag flew highest perhaps in the episode where Bert lost a tooth and Pete then misplaced it and went off the deep end over the whole thing. My favorite Pete arc is undoubtedly the one leading up to The Wedding. The scene where he proposes to Kate in the garage was just beautiful and demonstrated exactly why Kate/Pete work at the center of this circus of a family.

Diane proved to be more of a gem than I even realized at the beginnig, and I think Marcia Gay Harden had a lot to do with that. An episode where she and Hillary host a group of Hillary’s friends for a sleepover, and Diane’s charcuterie and movie choices aren’t appreciated, ended in a sweet quiet moment where Diane affirms that the night was for Hillary and her friends, not for herself. And her admission to Kate when her secret relationship with RussBradleyMorrison is revealed that: “I succeed at everything I do. I have one failure, my marriage,” showed exactly how vulnerable she is under her fabulously icy exterior. (Also my dream of Diane and Meg stuck in an elevator was more than realized when they played beer pong and kind of flirted like crazy a little bit.)

Jackie. Oh, Jackie. Spirit animal, light of my heart. Michaela Watkins’ delivery of Jackie’s relentless warmth, lack of boundaries, and zany individuality have been a thing of beauty. What kept Jackie from becoming a grating cartoon character were moments like her capable and loving mothering of Hillary when helping her with an art project, and her vulnerability to the grown up mean girl moms of Bert’s soccer team (and in this week’s episode when she encounters a high school bully at her reunion). I loved seeng her and Diane work together, whether it was to catch Kate and Pete playing hooky with a fake couples therapy cover, or to find a birthday present for Pete from the kids. Jackie was, is, and ever shall be a bright star, and it’s because of who she is, not because of the boutique pickle business she runs out of her trunk.

Hillary was a bit of a pill for a good chunk of this season but by no means was she without redeeming qualities. Bailee Madison really was great as Diane’s hyper-achieving daughter and I absolutely adored her in last week’s episode especially. Aside from her hilarious barb-trading runner with Meg, Hillary’s highlights were when she was owning her type-A traits, like when she told a former teacher who called her a suck-up: “What you call a suck-up I call a go-getter. So I am going to keep go-getting, and it is going to go-get me places.”

Ryan Lee’s Warren was just a delight through and through, from his spot-on Ellen Degeneres Halloween costume to his excitement at getting a new best friend when the girl he was crushing on told him she was gay. Warren and Bert’s boyish shenanigans were always good for C-plot cuteness, and Warren and Kate had a really interesting cool-girl-nerdy-guy dynamic that ended on a great note with Kate’s support of Warren joining his school’s all girls field hockey team when she thought he needed to make more friends.

Albert Tsai will certainly be snapped up next pilot season if not before, and I hope he enjoys every minute of his time working on camera as much as viewers enjoy his fresh easy delivery. His storylines with Diane and Pete brought out both characters’ much needed sweetness and his carefree quirkiness made perfect sense with Jackie as a mother.

I’ll leave you with Bert’s lovely voiceover from this week’s episode, all the more poignant as we say goodbye to a show that could have flourished through many more chapters with the Harrison-Buckley-Fishers:

“There are so many stages in life: kid, older kid, grown up. Each one is special. It’s fun to look back on the person you were and remember who you wanted to be. But you have to look forward too because most of the time you don’t even realize you’re ready to move on to the next chapter until you’re already there.”

Mary is a military wife, mother, and certifiably pathological fangirl. Though she’s written before, this is her first foray into blogging. Her interests include livetweeting, cooking, baking, buying, and – most importantly – eating food, puns, and deciphering her toddler’s attempts to speak English. Follow her #mamatweets, #wifepeopleproblems, and #islandproblems (it’s not all complaining, honest) on Twitter at @maryarrr. We here at WWFTP would like to thank Mary for her weekly contributions to our blog. 

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