It’s the oldest story in the book: Girl meets casting agent, girl joins female-centric ensemble TV show, girl becomes part of salacious rumors about how all the women resent each others’ fame and want to toss each other into the nearest lily pond. First it was Sex and the City, then Desperate Housewives and Brothers and Sisters; now, the awkwardly titled Women’s Murder Club is getting into the action despite not having even aired yet. Take any show starring more than one woman, and lather, rinse, repeat.
We are, of course, aware of the perception that girls would rather stab a bitch in the back than pat her on it, and, sure, Hollywood probably has a higher number of knife-wielders than your average town. But what we can’t fathom is the glee with which people report on, and play into, this myth that a gaggle of ladies can’t share air for two hours without it turning into junior high writ large: “Isn’t the lead actress a nasty cow? Yes/No/Maybe/Don’t Know. Circle one.” Newsflash: Most adult women are, in fact, capable of acting like professionals rather than eighth graders. And yet you never catch them nosing around the set of dude-heavy dramas for rumors about, say, Big Shots co-stars Michael Vartan and Dylan McDermott fighting for the sleekest suits, or the Entourage boys elbowing each other out of the best lighting. The rags seem to think nothing makes a better story than dueling divas in a good old-fashioned bitch fight — emphasis on “bitch.”
But gender politics aside, the essential problem with stories like these is that they’re boring. We’ve all had a co-worker we don’t like, and whether that aggravation festers on a sound stage or in a cubicle, it’s still the same-old, same-old. Just as your spouse could thrive until the end of time without hearing another complaint about that asshat Bruce in Legal, so too could we live happily ever after without reading another story about Teri Hatcher wanting to smack the red out of Marcia Cross’s hair. Yawn. No wonder Isaiah Washington’s infamous dustup on the Grey’s Anatomy set had so much traction: When a bigoted rageaholic actually tries to strangle a co-worker, that’s some good gossip.
Not that we’re longing for things to turn violent in the name of variety. We just want the money-hungry Hollywood machine to stop grinding out any news it can find — good, bad, fake — in the name of generating buzz. Housewives stayed in the press during its sagging second season thanks to reports of set-side squabbling. We thought the Sex and the City movie was a nonstarter, but rumored tension between Kim Cattrall and Sarah Jessica Parker kept the project alive in the media for years; we wouldn’t be surprised if half the reason it got resurrected for real was to put that infernal gossip to bed. And we envision the Murder Club PR executive rubbing his or her hands together Mr. Burns style, crowing that all this dismal dish should be ratings gold.
Indeed, its biggest star, Angie Harmon, watched her last lady drama — the fertility-clinic show Inconceivable — die a quick, painful death without the merest hint of behind-the-scenes jealousy. Maybe that was her mistake. Maybe if Harmon had played the role and “accidentally” stabbed co-star Ming-Na in the arm with a prop needle, they’d have had a hit on their hands. But unless she’s embraced that and has begun openly sprinkling her new colleagues’ costumes with itching powder, let’s let Women’s Murder Club live or die on its own idiotically monikered merits and sate our catfight cravings with Dynasty reruns instead. —The Fug Girls