Studio: CBS Television Studios
US Rating: Not Rated
Film Length: 7 Hours 40 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 – Enhanced for 16X9 TVs
Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound, English Stereo
Release Date: October 13, 2009
Review Date: October 13, 2009
Maya: "You did what? With the who-who?"
Joan: "Ohh! I slept with a married man on and off for 6 months. And he happens to be friends with Aaron. And we're supposed to have dinner with him and his wife on Saturday. Help!"
(Lynn stands up to leave the room)
Joan: "Where are you going?"
Lynn: "To get a step-stool. It's gonna be a mother on your ankles when you jump down off your high horse."
The Show: 3.5 out of 5
I am perpetually disappointed by the lack of diversity on television and in film. From what we are presented with on network television, and on cinema screens from Tacoma, Washington to Trenton, New Jersey, it would seem to suggest that America is made up of 98% white folk, most of who have multiple white friends, with a token black guy or Asian girl. That may seem a little hyperbolic, but seriously – what’s the deal? A show like Girlfriends, while not the best written or performed show that even an upstart, mini-network like the CW has aired, is such a rare gem – sharing the antics and anguish of four African American woman – that it must be celebrated just for making it to the air – and sticking around. Sure, you can find a show here and there that focuses on an African American cast – but if you can count them on more than one hand, you have access to more channels than I do – and I don’t count Martin reruns either.
The show, a standard sitcom formula – sets, audience, predictable shenanigans, in its seventh season follows Joan Clayton (Tracee Ellis Ross), a by-the-book type A personality with a penchant for getting in too deep with men too quickly, Maya Wilkes (Golden Brooks), a feisty, self-help author (her book was called “Oh Hell Yeah”) who has a hard time ‘keeping up with the joneses, and Lynn Searcy (Persia White) – a hopeless unemployable free-spirit with a PhD in mooching. The fourth ‘girlfriend’, the inexorable self-serving Toni Childs (Jill Marie Jones), exited the show at the end of the sixth season following a spat with Joan. Their friend, William Dent, a proud a geek and a typical man (with an innate ability to associate everything back to money or sex) provides a little testosterone balance to the mix – though not much. The other major male cast member, Maya’s mechanic husband Darnell (Khalil Kain), provides the real masculine balance.
This season was a little out of balance with a quarter of the female lead cast missing, but after several episodes it manages to get back into the swing of things, once William’s fiancé Monica (Keesha Sharp), is brought deeper into the storylines. Familiar ground is explored, with tensions in Maya’s marriage, falling in love too quickly for Joan (or rather fighting against that tendency), and the ups-and –downs of finding a paying job for Lynn, ebbing and flowing into the plot lines. The marriage and abrupt breakdown between William and Monica is handled well, giving the audience a newfound opportunity to soften to the less-likable Monica, who, for many years, was a rival of sorts to Joan.
Girlfriends works on a number of levels. It never seems to want to be taken too seriously, until far more serious topics are explored – and then it knows exactly how to weave its comfortable comedic sensibilities into the far more dramatic ends. The cast are adequate to their roles, though Tracee Ellis Ross, as the unofficial series lead, fills her character’s shoes the most comfortably, and Reginald Hayes as William Dent displays the most enjoyable comic timing (and, this being a little bias, the very best lines).
Episode 1 – After the Storm
Episode 2 – In Too Deep
Episode 3 – Bad Blood
Episode 4 – Hustle & Dough
Episode 5 – Everybody Hates Monica
Episode 6 – If You Can’t Stand the Heat…Get Out Of the Boonies
Episode 7 – Just Joan
Episode 8 – Karaoke-Dokee
Episode 9 – He Had a Dream
Episode 10 – I’ll Have a Blue Line Christmas
Episode 11 – Wrong Side of the Tracks
Episode 12 – I Want My Baby Back
Episode 13 – Hot For Preacher
Episode 14 – Time To Man Up
Episode 15 – Willie Or Won’t He III: This Time It’s Personal
Episode 16 – What Had Happened Was
Episode 17 – Church Lady
Episode 18 – Operation Does She Yield
Episode 19 – A Dingo Ate My Baby
Episode 20 – A House Divided
Episode 21 – To Be Determined…It’s Been Determined (Double Episode)
The Video: 3.5 out of 5
CBS Television Studios presents this seventh season of the popular CW Network comedy in its filmed aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16X9 and enhanced for widescreen televisions. I have seen each season of this show, and consistency is certainly a strong suit. This latest season again appears without image issues, bright, reasonably sharp, and clean throughout.
The Sound: 3.5 out of 5
This 21-Episode, three-disc set comes with both a Dolby Digital 5.1 and English Stereo surround option. Besides the music used (incidental, not songs) frequently throughout, the 5.1 doesn’t get much opportunity to shine. Rather, what we have is good levels across the front speakers, solid quality from the center channel with the dialogue, and no issues to report.
The Extras: 2 out of 5
Mara Brock Akil (Producer) Comments on Selected Episodes: Disappointingly, the only special feature we have is the passionate producer providing insight and anecdotes on the following episodes:
- I Want My Baby Back
- Hot For Preacher
- Time To Man Up
- Willie Or Won’t He III: This Time It’s Personal
- What Had Happened Was
The seventh year of this long-running and highly successful sit-com wobbled a little out of the gate. In addition to Jill Marie Jones’ exit, the young actor portraying Maya’s son, Jabari, was replaced by a more experienced actor as that character saw his presence on the show grow (perhaps to help offset the absence of Jones). However, by the end of the season, concluding with a delightful double episode (and a sweet 42 minutes of comedy and chaos), it had found its footing once again. For fans of the show, picking up this very reasonably priced 21 episode set should be a given – for others interested in the concept, I suggest giving it a spin.
Overall Score 3.5 out of 5