COVID-19 doesn’t seem to exist in the world of “Pivoting,” but it doesn’t have to for the show’s premise to ring true to life as we now know it. While the idea of seizing the day is nothing new, reevaluating your life and direction in light of a loved one’s death is, to say the least, a pretty relatable concept right now. For creator Liz Astrof to tackle that scenario, not to mention through a comedic lens, is a sharp and timely idea for a series, even if it’s not entirely clear what that series could look like further down the line.
Reeling from the sudden death of their high school friend, Jodie (Ginnifer Goodwin), Sarah (Maggie Q), and Amy (Eliza Coupe) take a closer look at their own lives and decide they don’t love what they see. The show only reveals bits and pieces about the friend who died (most notably when bringing in Colton Underwood as her widow and father to their toddler daughter), but the one thing they can all apparently agree on was that Colleen was an excellent, patient mother and the glue generally holding their friend group together. It seems only a matter of time before the perfect image her friends hold of her in their memories shatters, but until then, Colleen was the standard by which they all apparently measure themselves.
Jodie, stuck in an unsatisfying marriage and desperate for a hint of excitement, doubles down on exercise — or, more accurately, sessions with her hot trainer (JT Neal). Sarah quits her exhausting job as an emergency room doctor and takes a job as a grocery bagger, hoping to find fulfillment in a job that’s ostensibly less demanding. Amy, reluctantly, tries to spend more of her spare time with her kids, whom she loves as much as she fears.
Goodwin, Q, and Coupe immediately prove why they were cast, each embracing her respective character and her relationships with the others. Goodwin gets the show’s broadest material, which doesn’t always land, but which she always approaches with an irresistible enthusiasm. Coupe could play this kind of wry, sardonic character in her sleep, but she’s especially good in “Pivoting” opposite Tommy Dewey as Amy’s husband, who’s both amused by her and unafraid to call her out when need be. It’s Q, though, who becomes the show’s sly comedic MVP as Sarah releases her iron grip on her previous life, somehow getting more uptight and messier in the process. (Sarah’s also the only one of the three to make such a huge life change that there’s no turning back, a truth that goes only sporadically acknowledged as Amy and Jodie gently suggest that she may need a plan B for her plan B.)
In the first three episodes, “Pivoting” largely sticks to keeping Amy, Jodie, and Sarah on their three distinct paths to happiness, with Amy finding her own version of maternal instinct, Sarah forging a new path after leaving medicine and her cheating wife (Frankie Corzo), and Jodie … squeezing on tiny skinny jeans to feel hot for her trainer. (Jodie really needs some stronger material and the stretchy gift of athleisure, stat.) But the best moments of “Pivoting” are the ones that bring all three friends crashing together, which brings out the best in the writing and acting both. Should the show get more time to develop — and it should, based on these early outings — it would be smart to lean on the women as a trio as much as they lean on each other.
“Pivoting” premieres Sunday, Jan. 9, at 9:30 p.m. on Fox.