Posted: 10/21/2008


The Starter Wife


by Laura Tucker

The Starter Wife premiered October 10th on USA Network. Catch new episodes on Fridays at 10PM Eastern/9PM Central.

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This article is being reprinted on with permission of, originally appearing on What’s Hot On TV.

Watching a review copy of tonight’s premiere of The Starter Wife, I liked it enough to not want to give it just a generic review. I wanted it to mean something, but really couldn’t figure out the angle I wanted to take with it. Last night when typing up my What’s Hot On TV Tonight list, I noticed a connection between The Starter Wife and tonight’s 20/20 episode, where Christie Brinkley’s ex will be on discussing why he chose to cheat on his supermodel wife with somebody who is not yet on Willard Scott’s birthday list, but does have an age that starts with a 1. I knew there was the beginning of an angle there.

I found my angle this morning while in a pilates/kickboxing class my friend runs. We don’t have any pretenses when we enter that floor for our workout. We show up in clothes that are baggy or hitting low enough to show all our back fat. Some don’t have a stitch of makeup on, even though they wouldn’t dream of going to the store this way, and another didn’t even brush her teeth before leaving the house (I offered her a piece of gum). We are comfortable there no matter our weight and/or ability level.

Yet, we’re all in our 30s and 40s and all have the same thing on our mind. If a supermodel can be ditched for a newer model, surely the rest of us could be as well. And what brings us into this particular class with a defensive edge, is that we want to be in control of our lives. We want to be the aggressor, and want to be the one to say, “No, sorry, ain’t gonna happen.” And that includes if our husband comes to us and tells us we were his starter wife, as he’s leaving us for a newer model.

Showing us even more that it could happen to anyone, the starter wife in this new series, Molly, is played by the beautiful Debra Messing. I picture her as the other woman, not the starter wife that is being abandoned, nonetheless, her Hollywood executive of a husband has left her for another, or maybe even many, and she spends the first year struggling, trying to make herself feel better, with a few newer men of her own.

When those relationships don’t go any better for her than her marriage, she swears off men and sex forever (then later questions how sound that decision was) and decides to devote herself to raising her daughter and trying to make an income as a writer. I say “try,” as I understand fully the difficulties encountered there. It makes the journey a little more difficult when she becomes attracted to the guy that leads her writers’ workshop (Hart Bochner). She doesn’t say as much, but well, we’re all girls here, and we know.

Molly’s two best friends appear to be more her partners in crime than anything else, a recovering alcoholic (Judy Davis) and a gay man (Chris Diamantopoulos). For me, Davis stole the show with some great lines. Being told that her husband wanted her to go to work for a rehab facility, she tells him, “Fine, but I draw the line at being a good person, and I will not wear Crocs.” When another alcoholic that she is helping locks himself in the bathroom to drink himself silly in the bathtub, she picks the lock, telling him, “I can do anything with a swizzle stick.”

Leaving my class this morning is when it all came together for me. The beauty of The Starter Wife is that it makes us feel less alone. We know watching this, as well as the Christie Brinkley/Peter Cook divorce, is that it truly can happen to any of us. We could all become a starter wife, just as ten twenty years ago we could have become the new, improved model. Watching this show and taking pilates and kickboxing classes isn’t going to change the inevitable, but it’ll sure make us feel a hell of a lot more comfortable with ourselves in the process. And I will be a good person, but I’m not going to wear Crocs either.

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Laura Tucker  is the webmaster of Reality Shack and its accompanying Reality Shack Blog, provides reviews at Viewpoints, and provides entertainment news pieces at Gather. She is also an Associate Instructor and 2nd dan black belt in tae kwon do with South Elgin Martial Arts. Laura can be reached at

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