NBC drama “Good Girls” launched last television season by thrusting its three main characters, Beth (Christina Hendricks), Ruby (Retta), and Annie (Mae Whitman), into a new life of crime after they robbed a grocery store, but that inciting incident was only the tip of the iceberg. What was supposed to be a one-time event turned into a new day job as money launderers for the suburban mothers. And in the second season, things are only going to get more complicated.
“This season is much darker, much bolder,” executive producer Jenna Bans tells Variety. “We definitely push them much further in Season 2, in terms of what they’re willing to do.”
Adds executive producer Bill Krebs: “If Season 1 was ‘How do we get out of this?’ … Season 2 is more like, ‘Now that we’re stuck in it, how do we deal with it?’ What are the ramifications on family, what does it mean to [them], and do [they] want to get out of it still or stay in it, and wrestling with that?”
Bans notes that once you have crossed a moral line for yourself, you often “start to justify it and things you’d never thought you’d do start to become very possible.” For Beth, this includes getting closer to Rio (Manny Montana), who heads up the criminal organization the women unexpectedly found themselves a part of in the first season, while for all of them, it includes “dumping a body.”
The key for the show, according to Bans and Krebs, is to “keep the banter … and keep the comedy alive” through whatever else may come.
“The epitome of the ‘Good Girls’ tone is that these are very normal people in an absurd situation,” Bans says.
Adds Krebs: “It’s a high-wire act, and if you lean too far one way or the other, we can all fail. And so we’re always constantly trying to play it as real as possible because then the comedy will rise up and it will become more relatable. It’s ‘how would I react or how would you react to dumping a body,’ not ‘what’s funny about dumping a body?'”
The criminal enterprise the women embarked upon in the first season has given them newfound confidence and also revealed parts of themselves they may not have previously realized existed. In the case of Beth, Bans says, “She is a woman who never felt satisfied and seen and appreciated. She was sort of this perfect wife and mother, and she created this idyllic life for herself, but there was always something missing.” Now what is filling that void is her life of crime, as well as her partnership with Rio.
“All she wants is for her husband to say, ‘You’re good at doing something other than making lunches and taking care of the kids’ and he can’t do it,” Bans says.
The relationship between Beth and Rio was not one Bans says she saw coming when she was first writing the show, but watching Hendricks and Montana perform together in scenes allowed it to organically deepen and evolve over time.
“In the back of my head I was like, ‘Oh it would be fun if one of them slept with him at one point.’ And when I was shooting the pilot, I thought it would be Annie because it wouldn’t cause so much conflict,” Bans shares. But “then Christina and Manny’s chemistry just as actors exploded off the screen for us and we got all this fan feedback of ‘When are they going to do it already!?’ … In this super twisted way he fulfills her just by going, ‘You’re good at this.'”
Beth’s relationships are being challenged, especially now that her husband Dean (Matthew Lillard) is in on the secret of her new life, which forces the unhappily married duo to become “brutally honest with each other” in all facets of their marriage, including “how they feel about each other now and what does that mean for them?” notes Krebs. But she is far from alone in such tension, as Stan (Reno Wilson) learned about his wife’s involvement in the grocery store robbery at the end of the first season.
“Stan really goes on this emotional journey … where he basically assists her with a crime. And it’s something you never thought this man would do, but we take him on this journey of almost disillusionment with the justice system,” Bans says.
Meanwhile, Annie and Gregg (Zach Gilford) are rekindling their feelings for each other, which complicates things for their child. The producers didn’t want to make every episode about the women trying to balance their life of crime with their family lives, though. In order to allow the audience to “sit in these characters’ lives and make you relate to them and feel for them,” Bans says they will also explore issues such as race and mental health.
“[Ruby and Stan] have a great storyline … about talking to your kids about being black in America and talking about what it’s like for them,” Bans reveals.
Meanwhile, Beth and Dean will get called into the principal’s office when their oldest child begins binge-eating at school. “It’s a cry for help and a cry for attention, and Beth immediately thinks, ‘Oh it’s because I’m not around. I’m up all night dumping bodies in dumpsters.’ But it’s still a really relatable thing that parents go through; it’s an emotional thing,” she says.
Additionally in the second season, they dive deeper into who the women are and how their friendship started, including through a flashback episode where “you see the women as kids and how they meet — the origin story, basically,” shares Bans.
Better understanding where they came from, the producers hope, will make the audience feel that much more when they see just how rough things will get for the women.
“In the back half of the season, the consequences do begin to mount in a serious way, plot-wise and emotionally,” Bans says. “They start to feel the consequences and from the police point of view, they start feeling the heat.”
“Good Girls” Season 2 premieres March 3 at 10 p.m. on NBC.