Girlfriends: Season Four
There is a variation of the so called ‘chick flick’ on television. This is the relationship series. It can take many forms from a straight situation comedy to a more serious consideration of the way women relate to one another. Usually, the format chosen by the networks is somewhere in between combining comedy and drama. A prime example of this type of series is ‘Girlfriends’. It originally started on the UPN network and then after the merger with WB continued on with the new CW network. This series has been a steadfast staple of the network no matter what name they go by. It has wrapped up its eight season before the Writer’s Guild strike threw things off track and the series was ultimately cancelled. Unfortunately, the network has decided not to do a special episode to wrap up the numerous story lines. The good news is Paramount is still releasing DVD season box sets so you can catch up on this very good example of television. Although the show does feature a predominately African American cast it is by no means restricted to such a demographic. This is a series about four women who are friends and the trials and tribulations they encounter in life. While some of the plot lines are racially naturally racially influenced the themes of love, career, friendship and family are universal. The same can be said for the gender slant of the series. Sure, it deals with all women protagonists but to you guys out there, give this show a try. First of all guys, it is a look into the mind and motivations of your wife or girlfriend. You might even gain a point or two sitting with them watching the show. The up side here is you will find yourself enjoying it as well. Quality is what matters in the long run and this series had an ample supply of it.
Some people may deride a series that is son the UPN, WB or now CW networks as being straight to syndication and not good enough to make it on the major networks. Considering those same major networks are leading the charge to mindless, puerile so called reality shows you should be very glad that these smaller networks still have some commitment to quality television. Okay, they did wind up canceling the series but most of the factors had to be with circumstances not involved with the superiority of the show. It has been compared to ‘Sex in the City’ but this is not a fair evaluation. Yes, there are four women in the lead roles and they are sexually active but that is where the comparison stops. This is a unique set of characters that take their lives in different directions. In ‘City’ there is more of a focus on the urbane attitudes of the women. The concentration in ‘Girlfriends’ is more on the deeper emotional level with a nice comic feel added for extra enjoyment. Sure there are similarities but this series stands on its own with a very different look and feel.
The story is set in Los Angels as seen through the eyes of a quartet of female friends. Joan Clayton (Tracee Ellis Ross) is a lawyer but is almost as proud of her sense of fashion both wearing and deigning. Although she would like the world to see her as a confident woman she is often an emotional wreak. Even with that said she is the dominate one in this little clique. As of this season she has a good feeling about her relationship with Ellis Carter (Adrian Lester) even though she has a bit of a romantic triangle with Brock Harris (Malik Yoba). Toni Childs-Garrett (Jill Marie Jones) has been Joan’s best friend since childhood and even roomed together during college. She has worked as a cut throat real estate agent but as this season begins has been married to Dr. Todd Garrett (Jason Pace) for a few months. He is a white, Jewish plastic surgeon. Some of the conflict between Joan and Toni that ended the last season has begun to clear up. Another friend and roommate from college is Lynn Searcy (Persia White). She often feels out of place with the black community due to her adoption by white parents. As this season starts she is in platonic relationship with a man, Sivad (Saul Williams). He pressures Lynn into moving out of William’s (Reggie Hayes) house where she was staying and whether Sivad and Lynn move in together is a point of contention. William is one of the closest male friends for the group and often has to pick up the pieces when things go wrong. The newest member of this group of friends is Maya Wilkes (Golden Brooks). She had worked as Joan’s assistant in the law firm and had been married to Darnell (Khalil Kain). They are now divorced and Maya has been immersing herself in various self help books to get through the change.
There is an amazingly wide selection of topics and themes presented in this season. Many spanned several episodes as overall story arcs. There were other plots that where shorter in duration but the mixture of the two made for a lively season. In one such thread William had donated sperm to inseminate his sister Linda’s lover Kira. Joan gerts talked into throwing a baby shower and in good old fashion sit-com fashion Kira’s water breaks at the party. Lynn is having problems with her relationship with Sivad. The whole platonic thing is wearing very thin and Lynn wants to consummate the relationship. Sivad is the hippie-dippie type who writes poetry and has to be sure Lynn is his soul mate first. There are money problems, relationship troubles and family difficulties in almost every episode. This is a realistic series that manages the balancing act between drama and comedy like a finely tuned off Broadway play. The romantic triangle between Joan, Brock and Ellis comes to a head when she has to attend a dinner with both men. This is a perfect example of what makes this series special; the way the awkward moment is treated with comedy and an undercurrent of drama to it.
No matter what ethnic group or gender you happen to belong to this is a quality series that deserves to have a place in your home collection. It is a bit more adult than some regular sit-coms due to sexual themes but it is one that you will enjoy.