The ‘Good Girls’ Cast on the Show’s Timely Message of Female Empowerment

Mae Whitman, Retta, and Christina Hendricks star in Good Girls
Mae Whitman, Retta, and Christina Hendricks star in Good Girls.

They say good girls go to heaven, but bad girls go everywhere. It sure seems to be the case in NBC’s new crime dramedy Good Girls. Mae Whitman (Parenthood), Retta (Parks and Recreation) and Christina Hendricks (Mad Men) star as three frustrated moms who, pushed to their breaking point by financial hardship, decide to rob a supermarket.

For Hendricks’s character, Beth, that’s thanks to her cheating hubby (Matthew Lillard), who—ouch!—also bankrupted their family. Beth’s sister, Annie (Whitman), needs the money to fight for custody of her daughter, while pal Ruby (Retta) is facing soaring healthcare costs for her sick grade schooler.

What was intended to be a onetime job, however, gets very complicated very quickly, and soon the women are in too deep with some dangerous people. In any other hands, the show’s mashup of hijinks and high drama would be difficult to pull off. But Hendricks, Whitman and Retta make for one charismatic girl gang. “I got my dream cast,” says creator and executive producer Jenna Bans (Scandal). “We love having three women we can just throw anything at.”

During a break in filming, the ladies sat down to dish about why it’s so good to be bad.

What attracted you to Good Girls?

Retta: It is rare that I can read a script and say, “Oh, I like this.” You know? It never happens. The fact that I actually cried while reading what Ruby was going through made me think, “This is something I want to do.” That was my big draw.

Hendricks: Me too. When I read the script, I was just really impressed with the relationships between these people and the way they spoke to each other. It seemed very natural—and something that I understood. I got a chance to speak to Jenna about it and I just said, “Tell me your plan for the [season]. Who are these women? Can we maintain this dark, quirky, interesting new thing that I haven’t ever seen before?” After talking to her for a long time, I got excited about her vision. So I was in.

What makes your characters take this very drastic step in the premiere?

Whitman: I think you’ll find, across the board, the main thing flashing in the characters’ brains is their kids.

Retta: For Ruby, it’s the feeling of absolute helplessness when your child is ill. You find out that there is a chance it could all go away, but you have no way of getting that magical drug because it costs $10,000 a month. To her, it’s worth the risk to save her kid’s life.

Mae, you played a brooding teenager on Parenthood. How is this role different?

Whitman: Annie is reckless and impulsive, and she’s always moved through life at a speedy pace, not taking responsibility. But the one area she’s extremely grounded in is her child. Sadie is her entire world.

Christina, in the early seasons of Mad Men, your character, Joan, was focused on finding a husband. But being married didn’t quite work out for her. Seems like there are similarities to Beth.

Hendricks: [Beth] has four children and a husband she’s been with since high school. She thought everything was just as it should be: They have a beautiful home, a successful business. So she went on autopilot. She let her husband handle the books. And she believed everything she heard. The next thing she knows, he’s having an affair and he’s depleted their bank account. [That] sends her to an irrational place.

How do these characters rely on each other?

Hendricks: It’s sort of that wolf-pack mentality. They all need something desperately, and one encourages the other. But then it spins out of control.

Good Girls’ message seems pretty timely.

Whitman: These women are feeling helpless and backed into a corner. I think a lot of people are feeling that way right now, that they don’t have options and their voices aren’t being heard. So, it was the perfect way to shed light on those who are struggling and maybe make them feel less alone.

Good Girls, Series Premiere Monday, Feb. 26, 10/9c, NBC