There's a scene from CBS All Access's new dark comedy, Why Women Kill, that I just can't get out of my head. It's when Simone (played with delicious camp by Lucy Liu) walks in on her husband, who's overdosed on pills. Only an hour before, she discovered he was cheating on her with another man. So when she finds him slumped over his chair and incoherent, she isn't sad or concerned. She's livid. "You think you're going to get out of this by dying? Fuck you!" she screams. "I want to see you suffer in a one-bedroom apartment next to the airport, and you will not deny me that pleasure!"
The situation is so extreme you can't help but laugh...and cringe at the same time. This man is overdosing, after all, but the tragedy of that is cut by Simone's over-the-top reaction. It's a one-two punch of emotion I haven't experienced since Desperate Housewives, another show that effortlessly blends shock and slapstick. Humor and horror. And all with a glossy finish.
The similarities between the two series aren't a coincidence. Why Women Kill comes from the mind of Marc Cherry, who created and executive-produced Desperate Housewives. So if you were a fan of Wisteria Lane, you absolutely can't miss this new series. It centers on three women from different eras—Simone (Liu), Beth Ann (Ginnifer Goodwin), and Taylor (Kirby Howell-Baptiste)—who all find out their husbands have been unfaithful in some way. How they each choose to deal with this varies. Beth Ann, a 1960s homemaker, vows to become even more devoted to her marriage. Simone, an '80s socialite, can't see past her rage. As for Taylor, well, we don't know how her husband betrays her by the end of episode one—or how she reacts.
Regardless of what happens, viewers can expect this Desperate Housewives blend of darkness and delight to permeate the whole season. It's what attracted Liu to the project in the first place. "I thought there was so much comedy in it," she tells Glamour. "[Simone is] very indulgent with her words, and I find, for me, comedy is really what I want to do, and it’s my forte. And so to be able to blend the drama in that moment and make it funny is, to me, why this show works.
Goodwin feels similarly, though she says Why Women Kill is even more macabre than Desperate Housewives ever was. "Marc is his own tone and his own world of dramatic comedy, and his flavor is all over this," she says. "That being said, because it’s 2019, and because this is streaming, it seems, to me, he’s going much further. Things can be much darker and less palatable."
Less palatable, maybe, but definitely not less watchable. Why Women Kill is an absurdly binge-able series for many reasons. The end of the pilot, for example, leads viewers to think each of these women will actually attempt to murder their husbands. "For the women who kills, only one question really matters," Taylor says directly to the camera before Beth Ann chimes in with "Does she get away with it?"
"It’s going to be unexpected," Goodwin says. "My favorite thing is that we give the audience a false sense of security and then drop them on their asses. We’re showing you this world of candy, and because it’s stylized, it feels safe. The fourth wall is solid, and then we’re going to turn it all upside down."
But underneath all the twists, turns, and murder is a story about the way men treat women. In all three of these narratives, we see how the husbands abuse and take advantage of their wife's good will. Yes, the circumstances are different because of the time periods, but the root is the same.
"I think we’re going to sneakily make people really focus on the things brought to light very recently about gender relations," Goodwin says. "And these are timeless issues, but now that we’re really talking about it, I feel like the show can really be part of the conversation."
And that conversation will be nuanced. Goodwin tells Glamour that while Beth Ann's husband, Rob (Sam Jaeger), is presented as misogynistic, there's more to him—and all these male characters—than meets the eye. "There’s something about the way Marc writes that things start out feeling really black-and-white, but really they’re going to become more and more gray, messier and messier, more and more complicated," she says. "I think that there will be real love, for instance, for Beth Ann’s husband before, hopefully, the audience all commits in a really messy way of writing him off."
Liu hopes viewers don't write her character off. Simone's "one-bedroom apartment" line is pretty indicative of her essence: She's unapologetically outlandish, over-the-top, and extravagant. Liu loves those qualities about her but urges fans to look below the surface. "I think [Simone's] journey has got a far-reaching, emotional aspect to it that I’m enjoying, and I hope [viewers] enjoy it, as well, because there’s a lot of distance for her to go," she says.
Liu actually helped mold Simone's journey by directing an episode of Why Women Kill. The actor's manager put her up for the job, which she says has been a "great" process overall. Adds Goodwin, "[Liu] is a baller director. She is spectacular. I’m so blown away by her. I want to be in far more than she directs. She’s so good."
Why Women Kill is also so good, point-blank. Goodwin, Liu, and Howell-Baptiste deliver knockout performances; the dialogue is rich and witty; and the storyline is relevant and poignant while still remaining incredibly fun. But be warned: Lots of people maybe-probably-definitely will die, and not in the cleanest of ways. "We go to some horrible places in terms of how humans treat other humans," Goodwin says. "And we’re going to do that graphically."
Why Women Kill starts streaming on CBS All Access on Thursday, August 15.
Originally Appeared on Glamour