Trashy TV should be at least good trash

  • By Hank Stuever The Washington Post
  • Friday, June 7, 2013 3:07pm
  • LifeGo-See-Do

While watching “Mistresses,” ABC’s new Monday night sheet-steamer about a quartet of women living and lusting on the edge of whatever, my mind drifted briefly to some other place. (Trust me, yours will too.)

Instead of wondering how soon Alyssa Milano’s unhappily married attorney character Savannah (“Savi” to all her pals, pronounced — ick — savvy) will fall into the arms of a hunky colleague (Jason George) at the firm, I kept thinking about how much I’ve heard the word “trash” come up lately when people talk about television’s iffy future.

When disenchanted viewers tout the virtues of on-demand streaming (and canceling their cable or satellite services) they say it’s because they are tired of all the trash.

By not being able to subscribe to networks a la carte or pay only for the kind of shows they prefer, consumers feel overwhelmed by junk on channels they detest (and detest paying for).

Newfound freedom is closely related to escaping TV’s omnipresent trash. Trash, trash, trash.

“Mistresses” certainly is trashy, or an attempt at the kind of art that repurposes leftover trash.

Imported from Britain , it’s tweaked for an American market in a brain-dormant summertime run.

Adhering to the critics’ golden rule, you should judge a work by how well it’s doing the thing it’s trying to do, and not, say, against “Masterpiece Theatre.”

Yet so much comes down the chute now that looks and acts like “Mistresses,” a surfeit of glossy little passion plays about women in their late 30s or early 40s wearing designer heels and committing designer adultery.

These shows do little except to offer more unnecessary proof that no matter how sleek and clean your kitchen is, there must always be some unhappiness downstairs.

Milano’s Savi and her restaurateur husband (Brett Tucker) are busy with the sorry task of trying to conceive a little too close to their sell-by date.

When a doctor tells them her ovaries are fine, but his sperm lacks oomph, he sulks; It’s all but fated she’ll have an affair.

And because “Mistresses” transacts entirely in plots that even your dog can guess, it won’t be long before savvy Savi is buying a home-pregnancy test.

That’s why you gotta have friends: Savi’s include a therapist named Karen (“Lost’s” Yunjin Kim, pathetically miscast here) who unwisely has an affair with a terminally ill patient.

When it’s working, trash shouldn’t just sit there like this. It should be memorable (even memorably awful could suffice).

“Mistresses” is more vaporous than vapid scenes wind up seeming antiseptically dispassionate and too serious by half.

Watch it

“Mistresses” airs at 10 p.m. Mondays on ABC.

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