“Why Women Kill” returns Thursday (June 3) for Season 2 on a rebranded network — but with the same campy tone courtesy of series creator Marc Cherry.
Season 1 of the anthology, which streamed on CBS All Access (now Paramount+) with stars Lucy Liu, Ginnifer Goodwin and Kirby Howell-Baptiste, followed three women in different time periods (the ’60s, ’80s and 2019) sharing one thing in common: adulterous husbands.
This time around, “Why Women Kill” sticks to one year, 1949, in tracking the parallel stories of frumpy LA housewife Alma Fillcot (Allison Tolman) and glamorous golddigger Rita Castillo (Lana Parrilla).
Alma’s married to beloved, obese veterinarian Dr. Bertram “Bertie” Filcott (Nick Frost), while Rita is fooling around on her much-older, extremely rich husband, the despotic Carlo (Daniel Zacapa), with Scooter (Matthew Daddario), a dim-bulb “aspiring actor” who’s using Rita to get a leg up in Hollywood.
Alma, who feels she’s ignored by everyone — except by Bertie and by their daughter Dee (BK Cannon), a waitress — dreams of being asked to join the local prestigious gardening club, and of making “elegant friends,” including Rita, who’s a member along with other petty society types.
Bertie, meanwhile, is hiding a deep, dark secret that Alma will eventually discover. Dee, like her mother, feels adrift, vulnerable and unseen in her everyday life save for her illicit affair … with Scooter, who’s being tailed by a private investigator (Jordane Christie) hired by the distrustful Rita.
Added to this crisscross plot mix is Catherine (Veronica Falcon), Carlo’s grown daughter who arrives in LA after her father’s stroke leaves him paralyzed and mute — and in Rita’s crosshairs.
The cartoonish situations play out on studio back-lot sets that are supposed to pass for the downtown and suburban streets of LA — you can almost hear someone flipping the switch on those studio rain machines to simulate torrential downpours — and with a heavy-lidded wink to the audience not to take any of it very seriously. I suppose that’s the point of this farcical series, very similar in tone to Cherry’s other shows, particularly ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” and, to a lesser extent “Devious Maids,” which aired on Lifetime.
The performances are fine all-around (particularly Nick Frost as Bertie), and no one here is tasked with any heavy lifting since “Why Women Kill” mixes light, gentle comedy with elements of “the human condition” but isn’t very deep or multi-dimensional. It will please Cherry’s fans — and viewers who need a break from deep drama or who favor lighthearted fare that won’t tax their emotions.