4 out of 5
Created by: Liz Astrof
covers season 1
After the death of their friend, Colleen, 30somethings Amy (Eliza Coupe), Jodie (Ginnifer Goodwin), and Sarah (Maggie Q) decide to pay tribute to their friend’s spirited lifestyle by making key changes in their own lives. Far from the casual bucket-list inspirational this could suggest, Pivoting – as each woman “pivots” on their life’s current path – is casually subversive, allowing the characters to buck trends of motherhood, the comely wife, and the successful businesswoman without finger-waggling with consequence. This wouldn’t necessarily work without the amazing skills of the lead actresses, though, not to mention their chemistry, and the consistency of the writing: the offhand way in which they chat about death and their uprooted lives may suggest shallowness, but it’s moreso made clear that they all experience affection for each other (and their passed friend) in their own ways, and that that – despite otherwise pretty drastic differences in their personalities – is what would’ve bonded them from the start.
The lack of judgment applied to their relative pivots is also nice: not only does it allow the comedy to be the focus, but it also gives the storylines much more room to breathe, and able to push and pull on that comedy in various directions, which sneakily allows in some self-reflection after all. So Jodie can have an affair with her much younger personal trainer and get teased about it, but not chastised; Amy can face down a wave of disbelief at wanting to change her rather carefree lifestyle for one in which she actually spends time with her kids (previously passed almost completely onto a nanny and her husband) and after a barrage of somewhat failed attempts, she actually finds a balance that starts to work; and Sarah can up and quit as a doctor to become a minimum wage retail worker, and still get full support from her friends when it comes to stealing some stuff back from her ex-girlfriend. Yes, perhaps the sun-shiney take isn’t necessarily realistic, but that’s the sitcom world into which the show has purposefully put itself, and it’s made more intelligent by not just relying on the fish-out-of-water nature of the change-ups, but rather the challenge of each adapting to the same, without any doubt-filled chatter to pad out the runtime. And as things progress – as they each get deeper into their new roles – it’s easier to see how this tone actually allows for a better study of identity, and loss; meanwhile, don’t worry about that too much, because it’s also really funny, driven by timing-perfect comedic performances from our leads.
Some aspects of the show do end up being prioritized moreso than others, though. We get glimpses of Jodie’s husband, who’s made out to be a complete doofus, and I get that, as it’s easier to not question her affair, then, but her family, on the whole, feels almost non-existent within the show’s context. Similarly, Colleen’s husband only seems to be present for the women to ping memories of their friend off of, which is fine, until they give him some moments as a more fleshed out character, and it then feels like he should be part of the bigger picture more often. Little beats like that keep the show hovering just between all-out comedy and something a dash more affecting, or grounded; it’s a balance that I think can be ironed out in what are hopefully more seasons to come.