What’s Worth Watching: The Wife Stuff

Astronaut Wives - 'Launch' - Zoe Boyle, Erin Cummings, Odette Annable, Yvonne Strahovski, Azure Parsons, Joanna Garcia Swisher
Cook Allender/ABC
Astronauts Wives Club

The Astronaut Wives Club, “Launch” (Thursday, June 18, 8/7c, ABC)

“Pigs will fly in space before a woman does,” remarks Marge Slayton (Erin Cummings), the saucy wife of astronaut Deke, early on in the glossy nostalgia trip of The Astronaut Wives Club. It’s a summer series closer in tone to ABC’s short-lived paean to Pan Am than to the deeper, darker dive into the 1960s provided by Mad Men, so set your expectations accordingly. The drama revisits a time when the early astronauts and their families became American royalty, subjected to a relentless media spotlight that forced them to project a squeaky-clean image (including a male ghostwriter penning their thoughts for publication) when the reality wasn’t always so wholesome or pretty.

These ladies aren’t immediate BFFs. Although they’re always ready with a casserole for support when one of their husbands goes off into space, there’s plenty of gossip and rivalry among this exclusive inner circle. The women brag and cheer on their husbands hoping they’ll be the first to achieve a milestone—and thus get a private audience with Jack and Jackie Kennedy. Best to enjoy Wives Club as a soap set against history. Among the most intriguing wives to watch out for: independent fashion plate Rene Carpenter (the always welcome Yvonne Strahovski), who causes a stir when she won’t pander to the press on the subject of prayer; and Trudy Cooper (Odette Annnable), who was on the cusp of divorcing tom-catting hubby Gordo (Bret Harrison) when this new opportunity came along. “Being a modern wife means challenging your husband to be better,” she declares, but what she really wants to do is fly. Hers is a progressive club worth joining.