If the Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce Season 3 premiere is any indication, this season is a hearteningly world-wise departure from its predecessors, in which any wound could be salved with a bender, a fling and a limo with a sunroof. Great news for fans who worship our ladies but worried GGTD had begun wasting compelling characters played by pitch-perfect actors with delicious chemistry.
Last season’s finale hinted at major change, and that plays out well in the Season 3 debut, which blends heartrending moments and genuine laughs into intriguing new chapters for all. Shunned by SheShe and facing menopause, self-help writer Abby (Lisa Edelstein) has much to let go. But hold on to your “envies” hats, ladies, because Jake (Paul Adelstein) — his career booming — offers to foot the bill while his ex clears her schedule and figures out what she really wants life to look like. “Season 3, then, becomes about Abby finally moving on,” says Edelstein. “She meets someone [Charlie’s baseball coach, played by Blue Bloods’ James Lesure] that is a real, legitimate prospect for her for the first time. But he’s in an awkward time of his own life, so it becomes complicated for that reason.”
“I think part of the reason the relationship with the Jake character was doomed to fail is they were too much alike,” says series creator Marti Noxon. “They both have these high-octane, slightly neurotic, slightly controlling tendencies. They fed into each other’s neuroses. She meets a man who is many things — but neurotic is not one of them. He just doesn’t feed her frenzy. He’s a very steady, very loyal, very straight-talking guy who she, I think, ultimately feels helps her ground and calm.”
Then there’s that little M-word situation.
“Abby is definitely deep in that,” says Edelstein. “She’s feeling her transition [keep tissues handy on premiere night]. The thing that I find about menopause is that, unlike men, women go through adolescence twice. This is the second time in your life that you are going to change and you don’t know what you are changing into.”
“For a lot of women, I think ultimately it’s very liberating,” says Noxon. “The unexpected side effect is that there’s a freedom in no longer contemplating being a new mom, no longer functioning necessarily as part of a couple. All of a sudden you have all these options. The Jake baby — ‘the Taye-by’ as we call it — was a great sort of metaphor for that last opportunity and letting go. Letting go of that as a phase of your life and teeing up this idea of ‘let’s talk about what it’s like to have a doctor tell you you just weren’t meant to live as long as you have.’ I love my doctor, but he said that to my face. I was like, ‘You’re not making me feel better!’”
So thank goodness for girlfriends.
“Stepping into some of the scenes in Season 3 had such a beautiful ease about it,” says Edelstein. “Everybody is so grounded in their characters. Last year, Barbara [Parks and Recreation’s Retta] was a recurring character and there was some ‘finding of our footing’ there. This season, she just lands [with a new gig and a new beau played by Malcolm-Jamal Warner, to boot] — and Abby and Barbara’s relationship is really nuanced and beautiful. Alanna [Ubach, who plays romantically calloused Jo] has just blossomed. They’ve really given her an incredible amount to do, and she’s hilarious. The same goes for Beau [Garrett, as newlywed Phoebe] and Necar [Zadegan, as revenge-seeking Delia]. It’s just been really wonderful to see.”
What can we expect from the rest of our Girlfriends? Noxon offers hints.
“Throughout the next however many episodes, in some ways, Abby and Barbara become kind of our primary couple — our non-romantic couple,” she says. “They have such a great dynamic and they work so well together. I’m sure that’s true because Retta’s character is more of a contemporary and deals with more of the same issues. They also have a lot more in common.
“Phoebe, she has to really reckon with how impulsive she is. She has to reckon with, yeah, you can go with the flow, but there are always going to be consequences. Even though she is taking more responsibility for herself and her life, I think she’s still ultimately kind of a moon child who tries to leave as many options as possible open and I’m not sure how well that’s going to work for her this season.
“Jo is able to see more clearly in part because she has this new person in her life who’s fun and who really kind of fills her up and isn’t super complicated. Frumpkis is complicated — every last bit of it. We are going to also address the challenges of being an older woman dating a very much younger guy — that’s going to cause some complications as well.
“Part of Delia’s journey is going to be figuring out that not all of us need or want the picture that everybody else has. Some of it is that and some of it is negotiating. I will say this, we have another big twist coming in the whole Albert arena. That’s all I can really say about it. I just really love the actor who plays Albert [Brian Markinson] and I was sort of operating on that thesis that there can be a little flirtation with your work husband — but usually you have the good sense not to act on that. Much to our own surprise, we suddenly have Albert as a romantic leading man. Yeah, there’s going to be some twists and turns in those relationships for sure!”
The Girlfriends’ girls are growing up, too. Edelstein says that Conor Dwelly, who plays Jake and Abby’s observant teen daughter Lily, and Alison Thornton, who plays Jo’s equally savvy daughter Zooey get to spread their wings in the GGTD world, too.
“Lilly and Zooey have a lot this season. It is really exciting to see,” says Edelstein. “First of all, just as actresses, these little girls that came on our show are growing up really fast. It’s wonderful to see them become women. They’re both really excited about being given the tasks that they’re given this season, and their performances have been deep and emotional and funny. And the content is challenging — content that I don’t know if I could have handled when I was their age without being incredibly embarrassed. I’m just really impressed with them. It’s been beautiful to see that. There’s some incredible stuff that they get to do!”
Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce Season 3 airs Wednesdays at 10/9CT on Bravo beginning Jan. 11