When it comes to gal pals on the small screen, there are some clear winners: Eddy and Patsy (Absolutely Fabulous), Lucy and Ethel (I Love Lucy), Will and Grace, and of course, my all-time favorites, that foursome from Sex and the City. Now, you can add this gal-pal pair to the list: Jackie and Tara from The Minor Accomplishments of Jackie Woodman. They're not entirely new. Minor Accomplishments premiered last year on IFC to a small but hearty response, and that's too bad. Minor Accomplishments deserves a much wider audience.
Laura Kightlinger (Lucky Louie, Will & Grace) and Nicholle Tom (The Nanny, The Book of Ruth) play Jackie and Tara, respectively, two "aging" women in Hollywood trying to make it in "the business." Though they've been compared to Laverne and Shirley, they lean toward the more vodka-soaked Eddy and Patsy on Ab Fab, lighter on the physical humor, heavier on the whip-smart writing. Sardonic, intelligent, and totally without pretense, Minor Accomplishments is also extraordinarily down-to-earth. Even the revered Sex and the City was not without its lapses into "girl talk" -- those fluffy moments of self-reflection couched in pink feathers. Instead, Jackie Woodman is served neat with a distinctive bite.
Jackie's knack for undermining herself is tempered by her determination. While she does bully herself for all the wrong turns, she takes them in stride, a refreshing change from the whiny-girl angst that seems to be the norm elsewhere (Grace Adler of Will & Grace and Marin Frist of Men in Trees leap to mind). As Tara, that gangly schoolgirl Tom played on The Nanny is long dead and buried thanks to her turn in this series. How she veers from kitten to hurricane-strength bitch is as astonishing as it is funny.
Mary Kay Place joins the series in its second season in front of and behind the camera as Jackie's mother and as a director. Azura Skye and Patrick Bristow co-star as Jackie's haughty boss and her sycophantic assistant. For those who want to see the series from the beginning, the first season is now available on DVD.
The second season of The Minor Accomplishments of Jackie Woodman premieres Sunday, Aug. 5, at 10:30pm on IFC.
Also on IFC
The Business: Kathleen Robertson stars as a type-A-personality producer working for an accidental indie film company. Originally producing smut films but now with an indie hit on her hands, Julia Sullivan (Robertson) works to find Vic's Flicks' next hit, in spite of a surly staff and co-producers with questionable credentials. The Business returns Aug. 5 at 10pm.
Indie Sex: A four-part miniseries exploring how sex has been portrayed in film over time. Films that "push the envelope" bookend each episode of the miniseries. The lineup:
Aug. 1, "Censored" (11pm): Censorship, the Hayes Code, and the inception of the rating system are a few of the landmark moments in this provocative documentary that asks who decides what is "indecent," "adult," or "too explicit." Preceded by Boogie Nights at 8:15pm and followed by The Incredibly True Adventures of Two Girls in Love at 12:15am.
Aug. 2, "Taboos" (11pm): A look at sexual expression from the romantic to the startling. Preceded by The Dreamers at 9pm and followed by The Business at 11:55pm.
Aug. 3, "Teens" (11pm): With 70% of teens saying they get their sex ed from the media, this installment looks at various coming-of-age films and depictions of teen sex from tender moments of self-discovery to raunchy comedies. Preceded by Havoc at 9:30pm and followed by Spanking the Monkey at 12:15pm.
Aug. 4, "Extremes" (11pm): Indie films have always been about pushing boundaries. How far is too far? Is the difference between art and pornography merely lighting? Preceded by Kinsey at 9pm and followed by This Film Is Not Yet Rated at 12:15pm.
Check local listings to confirm airtimes.