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Trio of great actresses team up for drama about older ‘Girlfriends’

From left, Zoë Wanamaker, Miranda Richardson and Phyllis Logan star in “Girlfriends.”
From left, Zoë Wanamaker, Miranda Richardson and Phyllis Logan star in “Girlfriends.” Itvpictures.com

For “Girlfriends,” BAFTA winner Kay Mellor has assembled three great British actresses who are as vital now as they were in their 20s and 30s. Miranda Richardson, Phyllis Logan and Zoë Wanamaker play three friends “of a certain age,” as they put it, who have been close since they were in their teens despite the separate life paths they chose. The first of six episodes is available for streaming on Acorn.TV on Monday.

At this point in their lives, as each woman faces issues beyond her control, they are reminded that the bond they share has gotten them through past difficulties and will do so again.

Sue (Richardson) is the kind of person who commands attention in any room she enters. She has spent her life in love with John (Anthony Head), with whom she co-founded a brides’ magazine called Adorable. They have a son (Philip Cumbus) but have never married, because John won’t leave his wife. Now Sue is facing major changes in her personal and professional lives and seems to have little say in either.

Gail (Wanamaker) and her husband, Dave (Adrian Rawlins), were growing part. Gail was feeling unattractive and uninterested in sex. Now their divorce decree has come through, and Gail is filled with regret. She has a son (Matthew Lewis), just out of jail but required to wear an ankle monitor. Her mother (Valerie Lilly) is in an assisted living center but may need to be moved to another facility.

Linda (Logan) thought her life was nicely settled. But when she and her husband, Micky (Steve Evets), went on a cruise, her life came undone in an instant when Micky was either swept overboard, jumped or was pushed. If it was the latter, Linda is the prime suspect.

There is much to love about this series. The three superb actresses not only are on top of their respective games, but also play brilliantly off one another. More to the point, though, is how Mellor has grounded the humorous miniseries in credible real life.

“Girlfriends” is part mystery, and we’re hooked on wanting to know what happened to Micky. But the more important “mysteries” are the lives of these three women, each heroic in her own way. They all followed prescribed paths in life — even Sue, who was too obsessed with John and her job to realize how much she was neglecting her son and, even more importantly, herself. These are women who sacrificed in one way or another. Now they look back and question whether the sacrifices were ill-considered or even worth it. For a time, each thinks that may have been the case. They retrace their steps and their decisions in an effort to understand how they got to where they are when we meet them.

Those journeys are not easy, but they are empowering. Linda, Sue and Gail may be momentarily gobsmacked by regrets, but those regrets become the fuel for pushing forward on their own terms. Most of all, no one is alone. They have each other, and there is strength in that.

TV review

‘Girlfriends’ premieres on Jan. 29 on Acorn.TV, a streaming service. Subsequent episodes will be available weekly on Mondays. For subscriptions and other information, go to Acorn.TV.

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