Words || Aylish Dowsett
Do you have an annoying man in your life? Don’t know what to do with him? This is the show for you.
Why Women Kill has finally hit the shores of Australia, and my, was it worth the wait. Made by the creator of Desperate Housewives, Marc Cherry, the show weaves together sex, adultery and death to create this dark comedic drama.
Aside from giving me murderous ideas, Why Women Kill hooked me straight away. The show follows three women across three different decades (1963, 1984, 2019), all living in the same house. (A huge house, I might add. It’s pretty much a mansion.) Add to that a cheating husband or two, and your best friend’s hot son, and there’s bound to be some action. And I loved it.
But what actually goes on behind closed doors? Should these secrets really be revealed?
Of course they should. Give me that drama.
One of the first things that struck me about the show is its design and production. Why Women Kill opens with a bright and colourful title sequence reminiscent of the Pop Art movement. In an interview with IndieWire, Cherry says this did influence him, as well as his love for comic books. “I grew up in the ’60s, so what I was really trying was to get them to capture that particular era,” he says. “There was something about that old-fashioned style that I was going for, mixing that comedic look with the dire circumstances of various murders.”
Alongside these quirky killings plays a remix of the classic 60’s song ‘L-O-V-E’ by Nat King Cole. This song is the perfect fit for the show, and I adore it. With cheesy lyrics like “Love was made for me and you,” whilst a woman sets her husband on fire, what’s not to love? Cherry is amazing.
After bopping along to the title sequence, I then fell in love with the show’s transitions and breaking of the fourth wall. As husband Eli says “I’ll order pizza” in 2019, we are then smoothly transitioned to a new scene where 1963 Beth Anne walks past a stack of pizzas in a supermarket. Then after all the drama, the episodes usually end with the fourth wall being broken (think flashy dance routines and dark confessionals). This technique is a particular favourite of mine and adds to the show’s brilliant ironic atmosphere.
But of course, Why Women Kill wouldn’t exist without its strong female characters. I love them all, but my two favourites (as well as my fave time periods), are Beth Anne and 80’s socialite Simone. In episode one, Karl describes when he first saw Simone in a “designer gown dripping in diamonds” and goes on to say, with a smile, “you could tell by the way she walked that she thought she was fabulous.” Beth Anne’s modest yet colourful dresses are also exquisite and often “relate to her emotional state,” says Janie Bryant, costume designer for the show. “All three of these women are putting up different facades, so they definitely have that in common,” she continues. “It comes through in the costume design in the sense that we’re creating a character, and then that character is creating a character for herself. They’re all putting up a fashion front.”
Paired with the beautiful costumes is a diverse cast which, predominantly, features people of colour. “It was something that was brought up early, which is, I think for a lot of people, white characters are the default,” says Cherry. It was important for Cherry to create “equal opportunity murder” in the show with race and sexual orientation reflecting real society. “I want people to see themselves reflected in my work,” he continues, “and why should only white women be killing their husbands? I’m sure there’s women of many different creeds and colours who would love to take out the man they married. So I want to honour that.”
Diverse representation is clearly important in the show, but it doesn’t just stop with race and sexuality. Issues like the 1980’s HIV/AIDS epidemic, polyamory, domestic abuse, the changing roles of women and drug addiction, are just some of the struggles the characters are faced with. Being a 90’s baby has meant that I know little about some of these issues, in particular, the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The show allowed me to experience, if only a fraction, the fear people would have felt at the time. I also definitely cried. You’ll see why.
Why Women Kill is such a great show and I hope you’ve added it to your watch list. And if, by some strange reason, you’re not entertained, at least you’ll learn some fun ways to dispose of the ungrateful man in your life. But heed the character’s words for the only “question [that] really matters [is]…does she get away with it?” We hope so.