Four sex kittens navigating their way through life and love – sound familiar? With shows like Sex and the City, Desperate Housewives, Girls, Girlfriends, Cashmere Mafia, Lipstick Jungle and Devious Maids fuelling our appetite for all things wicked and sexy, not to mention, dramatically so, viewers can indulge in the next guilty pleasure – Mistresses. Debashine Thangevelo looks at the four temptresses in this new drama that doesn’t leave room for prudish behaviour with its risqué plots.
Alyssa Milano: Savannah “Savi” Davis
SHE is somewhat of a modern-day wonder woman. A successful lawyer trying to make partner at her company, Savannah is also working on starting a family with her chef/ restaurateur hubby Harry Davis (Brett Tucker). Very grounded, she is poles apart from her younger sister, Joss, a serial dater of note.
Between work and family, Savannah has her hands full.
While Milano will forever be remembered for her role as Samantha in Who’s The Boss?, her roles in Melrose Place and Charmed – not forgetting the myriad made-for-TV movies – have enabled her to explore other characters and remain relevant in the industry.
As the name suggests, adulterous affairs are on the menu in Mistresses, which is inspired by the British series of the same title.
Co-executive producer Bob Sertner said: “Almost 70 percent of married men and married women are having affairs. We might not want to talk about it, but we’re doing it. And I think people will want to tune in and watch it. And it’s not just people who are having affairs, it’s people who are being affected by affairs, in this show.”
In this season, Savannah doesn’t take the news of Karen’s love triangle well.
Milano notes, “Life is messy and it’s not always neat and tidy. And I love that element of the show. My character actually cheats on her husband with this outstanding young man (Dominic Taylor, played by Jason George). I don’t expect people to really relate. And I do expect people to be angry at the choice that she made. By my hope is that through this journey of the first 13 episodes, they can at least have compassion for the decision she made to cheat on her husband.”
On the issue of how people are expected to have compassion about something that uproots their moral compass, the actress notes, “Oh, I think that you can have compassion for where the person is in their life. That, you know, everyone makes their own decisions. What is right for someone at one point in their life might not be right for you, ever. I think everyone can relate to that insecurity. That is the reason why my character cheats on her husband. There are a lot of elements to it – not just the sex part. Hopefully, people can have compassion for that.”
George adds: “You know, good people make bad decisions every once in a while. It doesn’t make them a bad person.”
Rochelle Aytes: April Malloy
BOMBSHELL is the word that springs to mind when Rochelle Aytes is mentioned.
This Harlem-born actress has appeared in White Chicks, Madea’s Family Reunion and a handful of other movies as well as a string of appearances in some of the leading dramas on TV (Sex and the City, My Wife and Kids, ER, CSI: NY, Half and Half, Las Vegas, Bones, Dirt, NCIS, Desperate Housewives, Shark, White Collar, Detroit 1-8-7, White Collar, Criminal Minds).
And now she is steaming up our screen as April Malloy, a single mother to Lucy (Corinne Massiah) and the owner of a home furnishings boutique and café. Although she is dating Richard (Cameron Bender), her late husband Paul (Dondré T Whitfield) isn’t as dead as viewers are led to believe.
On whether she has ever crossed those moral lines, Aytes says, “I have never been married but I have been in a relationship with a guy who was seeing someone else. He had actually been dating her for the same amount of time he was dating me, and that was years. But I wasn’t aware of it.”
She continues, “I guess I wanted to say it’s kind of like death, in a way. You feel so much pain and so much heartache because you didn’t think this person would do that to you. I did forgive him at one point.
“And that, in itself, was something that I never thought I would be able to do if I looked at it from somebody else’s life.”
And it is these life lessons that Aytes taps into for the series, which rams home the fact that not everything in life is black and white.
Yunjin Kim: Dr Karen Kim
HERS is definitely a storyline that piques interest. A psychiatrist, she throws caution to the wind and embarks on a romantic relationship with one of her patients.
Best remembered for her role as Sun-Hwa Kwon in the hit TV series, Lost, Kim’s character pushes the envelope.
Kim, gobsmacked by Sertner’s revelation of the percentage of people who cheat on their partners, says, “I’m still thinking about the 70 percent. My husband and I have been married for two years – he is back in Korea. I still can’t get over it. It’s terrible!”
Similar to her co-star Aytes, she admits to being in a love triangle but was in the dark about it.
“So this (her character’s storyline) is all relatable,” she notes.
“You don’t see the process of Karen Kim becoming a mistress. You sort of… as soon as you meet her, she’s the mistress. But, you know, I can totally relate to her struggle and how she got there. Within the short flashbacks you see that she’s always been attracted to and in love with her patient, but never really acted on it because he was already married.
“It was only when he confessed his love for her and the truth comes out – the fact that he was dying of cancer – she wanted to be with him before he died.
“There are a lot of elements that I could kind of relate to and sympathise with and understand. You don’t choose who you love.”
On the selling point of the show, she says, “Our focal point is not a workplace where we meet to solve all these problems, it’s really the friendship of these women. We all have different careers but we have come together and we lean on (each other) and take advice or sometimes criticise so we can stay grounded and make right choices. That’s what makes this show very different.”
Of course, actions have consequences and Kim finds herself dealing with the fallout of her decision throughout the season.
Jes Macallan: Josslyn “Joss” Carver
A REAL estate agent, she tends to go through dates like she does buyers. In fact, Joss has no interest in being in a long-term relationship.
In the series, we meet Alex (played by Shannyn Sossamon) who is Joss’s girlfriend.
This leggy 31-year-old actress has been seen in shows like Shameless, Justified, Grey’s Anatomy and NCIS: Los Angeles.
Acknowledging that infidelity has been the ruin of many marriages, that of her parents included, she points out, “It’s a huge statistic – divorce is gigantic, especially in America.
“Dealing with that, with a loved one as a parent – you talk about being compassionate about it. It’s really easy to find compassion for a choice like that when it’s someone like your mother or father.
“You have to love them both and somebody just messed up somehow. You can’t help who you love and this (series) takes it back to that.”
With that in mind, she does true justice to her commitment-phobic character.
Commenting on the novelty of the series – aside from the betrayal factor, executive producer Rina Mimoun admits, “Truthfully, it’s this cast. We have lucked out in the natural chemistry that all of them, not just the four women, bring.”
She also adds, “As much as we say that these four women are amazing friends, and they are, in the first three episodes of the pilot they are judging each other.
“They are making mistakes with each other.”
Mistresses has tantalising drama, intrigue, ambition, seduction, romance, unfaithfulness and heaps of accompanying guilt. That’s the perfect recipe for indulgent, escapist viewing.
• Mistresses airs on M-Net Series Showcase (DStv Channel 113) tonight at 8pm.