Adultery Is In at ABC

Written by PTC | Published May 20, 2013

After Sex and the City, Desperate Housewives, Girls, Girlfriends, Cashmere Mafia, Hot in Cleveland, Pretty Little Liars, Golden Girls, Designing Women, Sisters… what TV has really been lacking is more shows about four girlfriends, “each on her own path to self-discovery.” So ABC is giving us Mistresses. Although the female foursome has been done, and done again, and overdone – always with essentially the same four characters (Was Golden Girls’ Blanche really much different from Sex and the City’s Samantha? Or Designing Women’s Suzanne? Or Hot in Cleveland’s Victoria?), ABC felt the need to bring it back with this unnecessary and entirely gratuitous twist: infidelity, lies, and adultery take center stage. According to ABC’s press release, “In the premiere, Savannah (“Savi”) is a successful career woman working toward the next phase in her life – both professionally and personally – bucking for partner at the law firm where she works while also trying to start a family with her husband, Harry. But when their fertility issues begin to take center stage, Savi finds herself attracted to her flirtatious colleague, Dominic.” Friend Karen is a therapist who had an affair with a wealthy, married, terminally ill patient. Trailers for the series focus on sex – Savi and her husband pretending to be strangers meeting at a bar to spice up their sex-life (because still getting excited by the person you’re married to is apparently unfathomable to the series’ writers), and her flirtatious co-worker staring at the pink ribbon on the garter strap holding up her stockings during a staff meeting; Karen urging her patient/lover not to leave his wife for her – though she’s perfectly okay with them continuing their adulterous fling; and April learning that her husband was cheating on her at the time of his death and fathered a child with his mistress. In our 2008 report “Happily Never After,” the PTC found that on television, references to adultery outnumbered references to sex in marriage 2:1. It is sadly apparent that nothing has changed. Sexual content on television continues to be predominantly extra-marital; the institution of marriage is regularly mocked and denigrated while adulterous relationships are treated sympathetically.

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