Mistresses: Volume 1 (DVD)
It’s a little bit Sex and the City, a little bit Desperate Housewives, but Mistresses has its own juicy, sudsy style. Infidelity is the dominant theme as a quartet of close friends struggles to find the balance between security and adventure, domesticity and danger. Katie (Sarah Parish), a doctor, had an affair with a patient that she then helped commit suicide--which threatens to come to light when she and that patient’s handsome young son begin their own tryst. Trudi (Sharon Small) lost her husband in the terrorist attacks on 9/11; is it just coincidence that a single dad chats her up on the same day she gets a huge settlement for her loss? While Siobhan (Orla Brady) struggles to get pregnant with her dispassionate husband, she finds more sparks with a colleague at her law firm--and when she does become pregnant, whose baby is it? And finally Jessica (Shelley Conn) believes herself to be a freewheeling party girl for life, but when she’s hired to plan a lesbian wedding, she finds herself in the arms of one of the brides.
Mistresses, Volume 1 has all twelve episodes from the first two BBC series. Between episodes 6 and 7, there’s a leap of a year, which helps the series maintain its dense quotient of tumultuous events per show. A big part of the appeal of Mistresses is that these women are all in their late 30s/early 40s but being older than your typical TV heroine doesn’t stop them from dabbling in open marriages, interracial affairs, threesomes, revenge sex, and much, much more. Lurid? Trashy? Absolutely! But the British accents slather a glaze of class all over everything, making it feel downright virtuous. The guys are little more than good-looking props--this is all about the women, who suffer and burn and wallow, tossed to and fro by desire and fate. This is topnotch prime-time soap opera, packed with significant plot turns in every episode. The box set also includes an engaging interview with the stars, who discuss their characters’ drives and self-delusions with giddy enthusiasm. --Bret Fetzer