Roush Review: The Cartoonish Farce of ‘Why Women Kill’

Review
Paramount+

Has there ever been a more desperate housewife than Alma Fillcot (Fargo‘s Allison Tolman)?

Described in droll voice-over by narrator Jack Davenport as “a very meek woman who one day got tired of waiting,” setting a Fractured Fairy Tale mode for the second season of Why Women Kill, the dowdy L.A. matron would give anything, maybe even metaphorically (or otherwise) kill, to be invited to join an exclusive garden club and its gossipy circle of society divas, led by the unscrupulous would-be black widow Rita Castillo (Once Upon a Time‘s Lana Parrilla, back in Queen B mode).

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Fed up with her drab existence and a world that expects her type of domestic mouse to settle for less, Alma puts the “sin” in Cinderella as she plaintively laments from on the outside looking in, “I’d be happy every day of my life if I had a group of elegant friends like that.” We of course know better, and as played by the versatile Tolman, who’s won our hearts in short-lived series including Downward Dog and Emergence, Alma is a walking deadly-sins avatar of envy, greed, wrath and pride at various moments of Marc Cherry’s (Desperate Housewives) candy-colored farce of darkly comic misdeeds.

The second season abandons the first’s multiple time frames to focus on the post-war culture of 1949, when Hollywood glamour set the standard for beauty. While Alma’s roly-poly veterinarian husband Bertram (Shaun of the Dead‘s Nick Frost) likes her just the way she is, her pathetically vain discontent only intensifies after she discovers that kindly Bertram is harboring a macabre secret of his own.

The ensuing lurid shenanigans are cartoonish to a campy extreme, and it’s hard to care who’ll end up killing whom in their venal, petty squabbles. Only Alma’s plus-size daughter Dee (B.K. Cannon), who falls for the battle-scarred PI (Jordane Christie) snooping into everyone’s very dirty laundry, is worth rooting for. She really does deserve better.

Why Women Kill Season 2 Cast Photo

Sarah Coulter/ ©2021 Paramount+, Inc.

Why Women Kill, Season 2 Premiere, Thursday, June 3, Paramount+