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Bravo’s ‘Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce’: Creator Marti Noxon on Lessons Learned From ‘Mad Men’ and ‘Buffy’

On Dec. 2, Bravo makes its first foray into scripted programming with “The Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce,” hailing from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Mad Men” producer Marti Noxon.

The series stars Lisa Edelstein as Abby, a self-help book author and guru of all things family who shocks the world when she reveals that her seemingly perfect life is a lie. After inadvertently publicly admitting that she has separated from her husband, Jake (Paul Adelstein), America’s once-favorite girlfriend finds her career and marriage in a free fall. As she starts to navigate life as a single woman in her 40s, Abby turns to her new divorced friends including Lyla (Janeane Garofalo), a legendary no-nonsense entertainment lawyer who is in a constant “War of the Roses” battle with her ex-husband and Phoebe (Beau Garrett), a former model and budding entrepreneur who has a very unique relationship with her ex. Meanwhile, a rival attorney at Lyla’s firm, Delia (Necar Zadegan), is hired as Abby’s divorce attorney.

At NBCUniversal’s Television Critics Assn. summer press tour, Noxon told critics she was “so excited” that her series is Bravo’s first scripted show, recalling her experience on AMC’s “Mad Men,” which helped establish the network and hoping that “Girlfriends’ Guide” would do the same for Bravo. “I was part of the experience of being on the train that changed a whole network, so this was an incredible opportunity.”

Although “Girlfriends’ Guide” was initially developed as a half-hour series for Showtime, it has since morphed into an hourlong dramedy. Noxon said the shift to a longer runtime allowed them to “go deeper” with the characters and explore their different facets as people.

The show is inspired by the “Girlfriends’ Guide” series of books by Vicki Iovine, but also draws from Noxon’s life experiences, as well as those of the writers and cast, who were happy to share embarrassing tales from their dating lives (most of which were not fit for print, thanks to the raucous panel).

Noxon — who started her writing career with Joss Whedon’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Angel” and served as a consulting producer on “Mad Men” — admitted that working in network television “wasn’t a good fit for me. … After the experience of working on ‘Buffy,’ I didn’t realize that you weren’t allowed to write what you wanted to write all the time.” Noxon said that working on the AMC drama “changed my life,” but admitted that “there was more drama in the writers’ room than there was on the set.”

“Orange Is the New Black” star Laverne Cox will also guest star as Adele Northrop, a war journalist and LGBT activist who appears to present an award at a marriage equality gala. The pilot also features “Star Wars” thesp Carrie Fisher as Abby’s book editor, but the producers didn’t know she was working on “Episode VII” before she left, but Noxon said it worked for the story to have her disappear for a while. “When she comes back, we’ll say she was in rehab,” she laughed.

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