American Woman is a sassy dramedy on feminism with a dash of grandeur: What to expect from the show

The sassy dramedy primarily follows Alicia Silverstone's character Bonnie Nolan who is catapulted into the face of adversity in the very first episode.


                            American Woman is a sassy dramedy on feminism with a dash of grandeur: What to expect from the show
Alicia Silverstone (Source : Getty Images)

The first thing you must know about Paramount's upcoming series 'American Woman' is that you must be ready to have your minds slightly blown by it. The scene opens and the very first thing you see is the number '1975', but don't let it fool you into thinking stereotypical imagery of a television show set before the 90s.

The American woman in TV-personality Kyle Richards' debut venture is layered, vulnerable, compassionate, yet so strong and empowered in her own faith that you're almost spoilt for choice in deciding on the aspect of her character that you most want to admire.

The sassy dramedy that stars Alicia Silverstone, Mena Suvari, Jennifer Bartels, and Cheyenne Jackson, primarily follows Silverstone's character Bonnie Nolan who is faced with an adverse situation in the very first episode.

Spoiler alert, but this woman tells off eve teasers in a manner that would scare goons to make them crawl back into the hole they came from, yet there's more. This scary trophy-wife-slash-mama does it all with a great sense of fashion too!

So what can one expect from this dramedy that takes us through the journey of an aspiring model in the 70s, who leaves her cheating husband and has to fend for herself and her two daughters, after being told they are getting evicted? Lots and lots of sass and no trash taken from anybody who tries to make her feel dependent.

In the very first episode, Bonnie Nolan tells her daughters "never let a man intimidate you" and she does abide by that. The 1975's American woman is just as much about her perfectly shiny hair and elaborate wardrobe as she is about establishing and exploring her independence. There's a vivid fight for gender equality in a domestic environment, while several other minor, yet significant fights for the same in terms of jobs and relationships. 

So to play a character this cutthroat while maintaining her poised demeanor was clearly something, as Alicia Silverstone will have you know. Especially since this was a time when “women couldn’t even get a loan without a man," she told Entertainment Weekly.

And the little perks that are surely going to keep you hooked on the series as the drama unfolds are aplenty too. “You’re going to be excited and turned on by the period, [with] the clothes, the music, the hair, and the jewels… [but] women still haven’t found equal footing, 40 years later,” the actress shared with the outlet about how contemporary the portrayal of feminism is in American Woman's setting.

“We’re still talking about equal pay and [asking] how sexy women are allowed to be. Even though we’ve come a long way, it’s cool to see where some of this [liberation] started [with this show].”

John Riggi, the producer of 30 Rock, co-created the series with Shameless developer John Wells, which came out on June 7. It is said that much inspiration has been drawn from the early life of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' Kyle Richards - and in that, Richards based a lot of it on her late mother, who was a single mother raising three daughters back in the day.

Whether it's a complete biographical representation or not, is yet to be confirmed, but if you take Alicia Silverstone's word for it, there's a lot to look out for in terms of the woman who seems to be running it.

“I play the American Woman, Bonnie Nolan, and she’s a firecracker of a woman. She’s a trailblazer of her time… the period is so vibrant,” Silverstone shared with EW. “Sex is oozing out, and everything [for women’s liberation] is bubbling up; they’re burning their bras, and two years before our story [takes place] was Roe v. Wade… One of our teases is ‘Liberation is a bitch.’ [We’re observing] liberation, and then [asking]: How do you deal with it?”

The answer lies in the unfolding of Bonnie's journey of course - through getting rid of household help to raise her daughters closer and also trying to acquire a job so she can make ends meet.

But of course, there are things to know about Bonnie before you can start judging her too soon for being so comfortably nestled in the laps of luxury. It might be a bit of a spoiler alert, but if you have to be told what to expect, you need to go through what makes Bonnie, Bonnie.

“Bonnie is sort of a trophy wife. Her job is to be the mommy… she’s a devoted mother and spends her day looking beautiful for her husband when he comes home. That’s what she chose to do. She’s a Beverly Hills woman in a sexy time, but then something happens and everything goes wrong,” Silverstone explains. “Even though she’s a trophy wife, she’s smart and feisty, but once she’s crossed, be careful. She’s really dangerous and incredibly unpredictable. That’s what I love: She’s complex.”

But hey, that isn't something that hasn't been done before. Bonnie brings back flashbacks of Meg Ryan's character Mary Haines (The Women), who was troubled with the top layer of Bonnie's troubles. Rich husband cheats on attractive wife while she's left alone trying to raise a child.

Sure all went sunshine and rainbows for Mary eventually, but Bonnie's fate is seemingly different. Her character has been showcased and explored endlessly before but Silverstone believes it's an amalgamation of several real-life characters. “My character is inspired by Kyle Richards’ mother, but she’s also inspired by our creator John Riggi’s mom," she said. "Like any art form, it then became about everybody’s mom. John Wells, the producer, it’s about his mom, and I used my mom as inspiration. Bonnie is this collective [mother].”

And that is what there is to look out for the most part here. It is Bonnie's love for her kids that drives her to kick her cheating husband out, to do whatever she needs to do to gain their trust - and surprisingly enough, her kids understand. They know mommy's got it all sorted.

“There’s relief watching her,” Silverstone concludes. “Because this woman loves her kids ferociously, but she’s also really reckless and does really bad things. She’s a contradiction: she’s a wild, ferocious creature, and she’s a badass, but she’s also terrified underneath.”

And the Paramount network agrees with it. They believe the series is set “amid the sexual revolution and the rise of second-wave feminism.” They label trophy-wife-turned-badass-mom is an “unconventional mother”.

But at the same time, Bonnie's best friends are the ones that seem to be unconventionally mothering her too. Be it her filthy rich but inherently insecure friend Kathleen (Suvari), who actually plants the seed of the prospect of her husband's infidelity in her mind; or the sarcastic but practical Diana (Bartels), who tells her what she should expect out in the real world - there's nurturing everywhere and all different kinds of it.

But what really does one have to look out for in terms of striking differences between the American Woman of 1975 and those of today? “So much has changed, but nothing really changed at all,” Kyle Richards said, as Deadline reported. “What my mom [who the show is inspired by] was going through is still prevalent today.”

And Richards credits this perspective from Real Housewives, which she believes is a franchise full of women trying to “do it all” - and that is to be a mom, a wife and a businesswoman too. 

So be prepared to notice the subtle changes and the fierce expressions of the overall concept of American Woman via the half-hour series, packed with 12 episodes full of addictive drama.