This show is a powerhouse of fizzy fun mixed with drama and heartbreak, a scintillating look at the players whom the history books never mention, the wives. Behind every great man you’ll usually find a greater woman and this is most definitely the case here. These women are strong each in their own way, with their husbands occasionally jaunting into space as the glue that holds them together, à la The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Dominique McElligott as Louise Shepard (wife of Alan Shepard) embodies the ideals of the era with great determination and any tiny urge to acknowledge unsightly emotion is quickly squelched. It’s no joke when the other wives call her Queen Louise and the shot of her standing next to First Lady Jackie Kennedy (a nifty trick, if I may say!) shows the strong resemblance. In contrast, Yvonne Strahovski plays Rene Carpenter, a bubbly blond bombshell whose platinum hair and lipstick conceal an extremely intelligent mind with her own sorrows and grief.
The focus of the show is on the seven unique marriages, which each operates in a completely different groove than the others and work with varying degrees of success, as well as the relationships between the wives. Every one of these women isn’t quite what she appears to be, each damaged in some way but striving towards the goal of the American ideal. Saying the show is moving is an understatement. It will reach out and pull visceral reactions out of you, leaving you helpless to do anything but sit and experience their courage to carry on as well as the faulty steps that plague any normal human being. Deeply personal tragedies, the secrets kept behind closed doors are what makes these women who they are.
Odette Annable plays Trudy Cooper, a wife who would rather be an astronaut herself and chafes at society’s restrictions regarding women. She has her own reasons for being involved in the Wives Club, a very complicated character with an insensitive husband who is completely oblivious to the gender inequality of the times. The sweetest couple has to be the Glenns. Annie Glenn (Azure Parsons) is lovely and demure, her secret trial a terrible speech impediment. Her husband, John Glenn (Sam Reid) loves her very much and the two of them support one another with such dreamy innocence, inspiring those around to protect them to a rather fierce degree. I was drawn deep into the show within the first episode and was very glad I had three of them stacked up on Hulu to watch in order to furnish you with this review. It’s a personal goal of mine to one day see our planet from space and thus was entranced hearing Scott Carpenter (Wilson Bethel) say “Being up there, it felt as — as close to heaven as I was ever going to get.”
And can I just say, the wardrobe department for this show should win many awards for their stellar work here. The clothes, makeup and gorgeous set furnishings make this an addictive feast for the senses as well as the mind. The spectacular dresses, the perfect hats, the hairstyles, the makeup jobs, and the shrewdly chosen music makes the world of The Astronaut Wives Club one you will happily fall into. It captures the spirit of the times but does so in a subtle way, making it seem effortless but never stooping to the more obvious stereotypical fashion of the period because then they would be trying too hard. This show is amazing, worth every single one of those five stars just for the first three episodes. I’m an instant fan and will leave you with Louise’s words. “We don’t know what our path will be or what toll this journey will take on each of us. But we have to trust that it will be successful and if we ever feel lost, all we need to do is look around and see that we’re not traveling alone.” – BETHANY
For more on this insanely attractive cast (seriously!), visit: The Internet Movie Database
Alan Shepard (Desmond Harrington) shows us early in the first episode that he is hardly the picture of a faithful husband. The pretty little thing he’s with is not his wife.
Brigitte Bardot made the cover of LIFE magazine and not one of us? I mean, one of our husbands?
Queen Louise Shepard and her husband, what’s his name?
Glued to the television when something goes terribly wrong on a mission. Max Kaplan (far right, played by Luke Kirby) is the liaison for LIFE magazine.
Rene Carpenter can’t help but stand out from the crowd, but she’s so oblivious to her own siren’s allure that she’s unassumingly friendly and not intimidating to the other wives.
But she certainly has the va-va-voom factor going for her.
Annie (who looks fabulous in red) and Betty Grissom (played with heart and grace by JoAnna Garcia Swisher), getting ready for a ticker tape parade.
The girl can’t help it, she lights up a room with her presence, making it all the more shocking when you learn of her secret tragedy that instantly moved me to tears.
And of course I never miss an opportunity for an appropriate cartoon. This is one of my favorites from The Far Side by Gary Larson.
Photos courtesy of Fake Empire, Groundswell Productions, ABC Studios and ABC. Cartoon credits can be found by clicking on it.
Where you can watch this show: Hulu, ABC and YouTube to catch up, then watch on ABC on an actual television. Or you can wait until Netflix has it available. Sidereel is also a great resource for watching shows for free online. Here’s a link for Amazon Prime and iTunes.