Michigan-set show ‘Good Girls’ gears up for a third season

Kurt Anthony Krug
Special to The Detroit News

Mae Whitman is excited about the upcoming season of the dramedy “Good Girls,” which is set in an unspecified Detroit suburb.

  Not only will her character, Annie Marks – one of three moms who turn to a life of crime, experience plenty of development as “Good Girls” returns for its third season on Sunday, Whitman will also make her directorial debut.

“Annie’s always floated around and not been sure about who she is and what she wants to do and what her contribution is and how she wants to make her mark on the world," said Whitman. "She’s always been letting the wave carry her along instead of riding it and taking her where she wants to go.

 “This season, we’ll see her becoming more introspective and come into herself as an adult and realize what her purpose might be… how she wants to operate in this world as a grown-up, as someone who’s mature and responsible. It’s a beautiful journey. Journeys like that are always long and heartbreaking and full of conflict.”

Retta as Ruby Hill, left, Mae Whitman as Annie Marks and Christina Hendricks as Beth Bolandin "Good Girls."

Toward the end of this season, Whitman will direct her first episode.

“Having been in this industry since I was 2, I don’t know anything else other than being on the set of a movie or TV show," she said. "This has been something I wanted to do for such a long time. To finally be able to actualize this dream on a set where I’m so close to (the cast and crew), everyone’s really been encouraging and positive. I’m just honored they’d trust me enough and be instrumental in helping me realize this dream.” 

Created by Jenna Bans (“Grey’s Anatomy”), “Good Girls” follows Annie, her older sister Beth Boland (Christina Hendricks, “Mad Men”), and friend Ruby Hill (Retta, “Parks and Recreation”), who are all in financial dire straits. In desperation, they rob a grocery store, stealing $500,000. Each spends a large amount of her cut before discovering local gang leader Rio (Manny Montana, “Graceland”) was laundering money through that store. They have no choice but to do jobs for Rio in order to reimburse him. Though they are incompetent, they always manage to pull it off through sheer dumb luck – and often with hilarious results.

Mae Whitman as Annie Marks in "Good Girls."

However, they learn that the life of a criminal is more complicated and nerve-wracking than expected. Despite that, Beth – the de facto leader of the trio and mother of four – enjoys being a criminal, thus attracting the FBI’s attention. At the end of last season, Beth shot Rio three times, leaving him for dead. However, Rio shows up alive this season.

Whitman – perhaps best known as Amber on “Parenthood” and who, as a child actor, appeared in “Independence Day” and “One Fine Day” – spoke about working with Hendricks and Retta.

“Every single day, I thank my lucky stars that I get to work with these ladies,” she said. “I can’t even explain how close we are. I was given a family in a wrapped-up package – it’s crazy. It extends all the way to the crew, too. Everybody who works on this show, we all love each other so much. There’s such a positive vibe. The day is filled with jokes. There’s no negativity. Everybody respects and trusts each other. It’s rare when that happens.”

“Good Girls” allows Whitman to portray an adult. Annie has a transgendered teen named Ben (Isaiah Stannard, “Party Dress”), formerly called Sadie.

“I’ve been so used to playing a child. It really hit me that I was playing a mom for the first time when we did our first scene in the car together. I was so used to sitting in the passenger seat and looking up to the left to see who was playing my fake parent. This time, I got to look to my right on the driver’s side and was like, ‘Whoa! This is really happening!’” she said, laughing.

At its core, “Good Girls” is about family and the great lengths these three women will go for them.

“It really is… a show about family, even though we’re doing all this crazy (expletive),” said Whitman. “Crime is the fantastical element of the show… The concept is being backed into a corner and breaking out of that to re-examine your life and take your power back and choose who you want to be. That’s something that resonates with everyone, especially at the core of it is such a deep familial love and loyalty in making sure that your family’s gonna be okay and what that feels like when everything and everyone you care about is put on the line and you have to keep fighting for it.”

'Good Girls'

 10 p.m. Sunday