The Other Woman
Move over, Carrie Bradshaw. There's a new dame on TV, and she's earned every bit of my adoration, and not because she offers easy wish fulfillment in a tidy 30 minutes. No, this woman is a woman's woman. Beautiful, smart, not so hot with men, a better friend to her gal pal than she is to herself. Talented, and yet not quite grasping that brass ring. The woman is Jackie Woodman, as played by Laura Kightlinger in The Minor Accomplishments of Jackie Woodman.
Some may know Kightlinger from her stand-up act and specials on HBO and Comedy Central. Most likely, you've seen her on Will & Grace as the blazingly funny Sheila, the nurse with the nonexistent bedside manner. Kightlinger currently appears on the HBO series Lucky Louie, playing the impossibly bodacious wife to the schlubby Mike (Michael G. Hagerty). Now, Kightlinger stars front and center in her own series, right where she belongs. That's the good news. The bad news is that it appears on IFC, meaning that if you don't have cable, you're out of luck. If you're smart, you'll spring to catch this limited, eight-episode series about a struggling screenwriter created by Kightlinger.
The long-legged, dark-haired beauty could have taken the easy route, playing off her obvious sex appeal. Instead, she goes for broke, playing a strong woman with some real, oh-so-familiar issues. Unlike Carrie, Jackie's life is not all about shopping sprees, going to fabulous parties, and bedding intriguing men, though, hey, I have to confess, that part of the Sex and the City fantasy was just too delicious to resist.
Sure, Jackie has a fabulous Los Angeles apartment that's humorously accessible to just about anyone who needs to drop by, but that's where the similarity with Carrie stops. Abruptly. When it's revealed that Jackie doesn't have a car and shows no intention of getting one, I knew she was my kind of woman.
"You don't have a car? What do you do? You just walk up to places?" the prissy, sycophantic assistant to Jackie's editor chortles.
Jackie doesn't need a car because she mostly works from home, and Tara, her best friend from high school, has the wheels. Nicholle Tom, who played the eldest daughter on The Nanny, stars as Tara, all grown up and more than able to fling back the sass the more-jaded Jackie dishes out. As a low-level assistant at a film-production company, Tara's the go-getter in the pair, schmoozing to meet the right people, not just for her own career, but because she believes in her friend's work (Jackie is trying to finish a screenplay on the early days of the Roller Derby). While Jackie loathes every moment of each "important" party she finds herself at, Tara is striking up breathless small talk with power brokers who will forget her name as soon as their cell phones ring. As gal pals, Jackie and Tara's bond is built on devotion. They are Laverne and Shirley, without the wide-eyed pretense. They are not always nice to each other in fact, they can be downright bitchy to each other but they are there for each other when it matters. When all the crap jobs, the lousy men, and the dashed hopes fall away, they remain. And that is the most realistic element of this witty, hard-edged view of two aging women trying to make it in the boys' club of Hollywood.
But this is not simply a buddy sitcom. Like other Hollywood-insider series (Action, Entourage), Minor Accomplishments is an unflinching look at the Hollywood machine from those living on its fringes. Jackie and Tara still have souls: Battered and bitter, they are still human. The world they hope to enter into seems hopelessly cruel. And, while you worry for them, you still root for them, hoping that maybe they will be the ones to see their dreams realized without losing what makes them admirable.
The Minor Accomplishments of Jackie Woodman premieres on IFC Friday, Aug. 4, 10pm. Encores follow on Sundays. Check local listings.
Project Pinway now under way
The folks who brought you First Night Austin need your help cleaning house and want to make it fun. Due to a printing error, 5,000 buttons from last year's extravaganza are taking up space at First Night headquarters. Instead of adding to the landfills, some First Night volunteers have turned to their DIY spirit (and the reality series Project Runway) for inspiration. "Project Pinway challenges Austin fashionistas professional, amateur, closeted, whatever to design and make clothing and/or accessories featuring last year's First Night Austin button," says Project Pinway co-coordinator Ginny Sanders. Judging, prizes, and a good time are promised, coinciding with the finale of Project Runway in September. Find details at www.myspace.com/fashionaustin.