By the time Christina Hendricks broke out to audiences as Joan Holloway (eventually Harris) on the hit AMC drama Mad Men, she had already had a long and successful career as a model. As she famously and recently revealed, that’s her hand you’ve seen a hundred times on the poster for American Beauty. She had small parts in a number of television shows for years, including a notable turn on the cult space western Firefly, but Mad Men really put her on the map for both viewers and critics. But while the advertising-industry period piece had a well-regarded ensemble cast, at the end of the day, it was a show about Don Draper (Jon Hamm in the role that will follow him forever). But once the show wrapped up in 2015, Christina Hendricks got her own show: Good Girls. And while the NBC comedy-drama was sadly (and unexpectedly, more on that later) canceled in 2021, it is absolutely crushing it on Netflix.
Currently, Good Girls is in the top ten most-streamed shows on Netflix’s global rankings. While the streaming giant famously does not disclose specific viewing numbers, it is safe to say the Christina Hendricks show is being watched by millions of people around the world as you read this. When it was airing on NBC, it held a strong position in viewing numbers; its first episode raked in a whopping eight million viewers, and throughout the course of the series, it generally kept a consistent three to four million. Good numbers, which seem to have translated over into the world of streaming. It was also critically well-regarded, with the second and third seasons holding impressive 100% critic ratings on Rotten Tomatoes. Overall, the show lasted four seasons and 50 episodes, a very respectable lifespan for a network show these days (hey, not everything can be Supernatural). So what gives, NBC? Let’s back up and get into the show itself.
Good Girls starred Christina Hendricks as the lead, but it was not a solo act. The other two girls of the title were played by Mae Whitman and Retta, both comedy veterans. Mae Whitman started her career as a child actor in blockbuster movies like Independence Day and Hope Floats, and was part of the ensemble on Jason Katims’ Parenthood. She was also notable for playing Ann Veal (her?) on the critically acclaimed cult sitcom Arrested Development. Retta began her career as a standup comedian in North Carolina, eventually moving to Los Angeles. She began making appearances on Parks & Recreation and was upgraded to series regular by the third season. Aside from the central trio, Good Girls also co-starred Manny Montana, Matthew Lillard, and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’s David Hornsby as varying degrees of gross, foolish men.
It would be easy and somewhat reductive to describe Good Girls as a more comedic, female-oriented Breaking Bad. It would not be wholly wrong, either. The central trio are all frustrated, financially strapped women who impetuously commit an act of crime in order to solve financial woes. Christina Hendricks is Beth Boland, a housewife whose car-dealer husband (Matthew Lillard) had been cheating on her and secretly brought them to the brink of financial ruin. Mae Whitman plays her younger sister Annie, a minimum wage-earner and single mother. Retta is Beth’s best friend Ruby, whose young daughter has serious kidney issues and needs very expensive medication. Faced with these seas of trouble in the first episode, the trio does the logical thing: rob a grocery store.
As you might expect, things do not go as planned. It turns out the grocery store (at which Mae Whitman’s Annie works) is owned by a local crime syndicate, who are not to keen on being robbed themselves. Christina Hendricks as Beth eventually becomes the de facto leader of their own small crime circle, and the chaos ensues from there. Much like Walter White before her, Beth grows to enjoy a life of crime and the power and sense of identity that it gives her.
But Good Girls has a much lighter tone than Breaking Bad ever did, supported by the considerable comedic talents of Christina Hendricks, Retta, and Mae Whitman. It was expected the show would be renewed for a fifth season to wrap up the dangling plot threads that had accumulated, but much to the surprise of everyone involved, it was canceled by NBC. Some have speculated that the abrupt cancelation was due Manny Montana’s contract negotiation and NBC not having faith in a female-led show to be able to continue without a supporting male character. If so, they missed on out a good thing with Good Girls.