'Mistresses' Matched Up With the Best Mistresses From Books
Just as we love our summer reads, there are certain TV shows perfectly designed for the summertime. Take ABC's primetime soap "Mistresses," which centers around four lifelong friends and their messy romantic entanglements. Each episode is filled with interoffice affairs, blackmail schemes and plenty of mystery from beyond the grave. Despite plotlines that stretch the limits of plausibility, it's addictively watchable.
As we delved into the lives of Savi, Joss, April and Karen this season, we realized that each woman owes many of her characteristics to unforgettable literary mistresses from fiction and romance. Court ladies and concubines alike, they were initially defined by their men but then established themselves as separate from their lovers. Check out the "mistress math" we did to match up each "Mistresses" character with protagonists such as the uncompromising Emma Bovary or Amanda Quick's savvy Iphiginia Bright. [Warning: Key "Mistresses" plot points ahead.]
Savannah "Savi" Davis (Alyssa Milano)
Savi isn't a "mistress" in the technical sense, since her coworker Dominic--with whom she has a late-night tryst--is single. But she is very much married, and that one-night stand gets her pregnant with a child who may not belong to her husband Harry. Like Savi, Emma Bovary and Katherine Swynford are powerful women who engage in extramarital affairs, prompting shock and scorn from their peers. But it's only when their husbands are unwilling or unable to understand them that these women can rediscover their passions.
April Malloy (Rochelle Aytes)
April's greatest flaw is that she's too giving--of her time, attention and money when she thinks she can right her deceased husband's wrongs. Like Petra, who inspires crops to grow when she and her lover go to bed, April keeps her store afloat despite all the craziness in her life.
And things certainly get tangled: Her husband's mistress shows up with a little boy in tow, demanding child support. However, her story's pretty fishy. We would love to see April take a page from Iphiginia and go undercover to figure out her scammer's real sob story.
Karen Kim (Yunjin Kim)
Karen's story is the most heartbreaking of the four TV "Mistresses": She falls in love with her therapy patient Thomas Grey and helps him kill himself when he discovers that he has terminal cancer. However, Thomas' passing only further entwines Karen with his oblivious wife and son, as they all try to hide the circumstances of his death from the authorities. Her complicated identity as psychiatrist, lover and confidante brings to mind Margaret Atwood's multifaceted heroine Offred. Yet, we can never forget that in his final days Thomas chose his wife over Karen, a dilemma similar to the one that befalls poor Susanna.
Josslyn Carver (Jes Macallan)
Helen's was "the face that launched a thousand ships," and certain parts of Joss' anatomy have been known to inspire just as many admirers. Yet while Helen glibly sets off the Trojan War, Joss feels true remorse when she lets her libido endanger her job and especially her friendships.
In that, she reminds us of Balogh's heroine Priss, a prostitute who meets her soul mate but struggles with trust issues. However, the defining characteristic these mistresses share is redemption--something we definitely predict for Joss by the season's end.