Mistresses are fun ... on TV, anyway

A funny thing happens to something when it goes across the Atlantic and across the continent. It turns sunnier, cheerier; even deep personal turmoil seems kind of fun.

At least, that's what happened to "Mistresses" when it leaped from London to Los Angeles. The American version debuts Monday (June 3) on ABC; here's the story I sent to papers:


Leaping out of a 100-channel universe,
some ABC titles seize attention.

There was “Desperate Housewives”
and “Dirty Sexy Money”; now “Mistresses” arrives.

“At first blush, it sounds
salacious,” said producer K.J. Steinberg. “If you scratch the
surface, there's much more.”

There are characters who are often
sexy, often foolish … yet sometimes pensive and talkative. This
was, after all, a British idea.

The original series had four
Englishwomen – smart and attractive and in wayward relationships.

And the American version? Things are
just as messy, but they feel brighter. “There's a lightness and a
(sense of) fun,” said Alyssa Milano, who stars.

Part of that is visual: Los Angeles
simply looks cheerier than London. “It glosses everything up and
brightens it up,” sad producer Rina Minoun.

In that blue-sky setting, Steinberg
said,.even foolish lives seem promising. There's “an optimism to
the show …. The friendships binding these women are uplifting.
They're relatable.”

The women are:

– Savannah (or Savi), who
simultaneously hopes for a partnership at her law office and a
pregnancy via her husband. Amid her fertility frustrations, she falls
for a handsome co-worker (Jason George). “I like playing women who
are flawed,” said Milano, who plays her.

– Josslyn, her younger sister. She's
a real-estate agent, with an uncomplicated life of serial dating.

– April, their mutual friend.
Widowed, she used her husband's life-insurance money to start a
home-decorating shop. Now anonymous phone calls make her suspect her
husband is still alive.

– Karen, a therapist. After a secret
relationship with Savannah's handsome-and-dying boss, she now has
emotional contacts with his widow and son.

She's a smart woman, doing foolish
things. “Every time I read a new episode,” said Yunjin Kim, who
plays her, “it's like: 'Oh no, she didn't' …. We all make
mistakes. I think we go on making mistakes.”

A least, these women look splendid
making those mistakes. After six stark seasons on “Lost,” Kim can
play dress-up. “Wardrobe and makeup-wise, this show is more fun,”
she said

Maybe an affair is fun, but Steinberg
said these women have doubts. “They're never glib about what they
do and who they hurt.” They're finding that life can be tough when
you are or know a mistress.

– “Mistresses,” 10:01 p.m.
Mondays, ABC

– Debuts June 3