Playing House is similar, albeit with slightly older and slightly more put-together women. Sure, Emma and Maggie often talk about the guys in their lives (or fight over a specific guy in their lives), but not once do these men take over the narrative. Everything about it is refreshingly accurate. Their friendship isn’t perfect, and the two argue about everything, but it’s always quickly resolved. Sometimes it’s resolved by an explicit and honest conversation, and sometimes it’s just resolved naturally, because that’s how arguments go with people you love. When Playing House is strongest, Emma and Maggie are the only ones on screen. When it’s weakest, which isn’t often, the two characters are separated into their own plots — though it’s worth mentioning that they always come back together.
In last night’s two-episode finale, Maggie has her baby with Emma by her side — Emma is the only one who is able to fully calm her down and make her feel safe — and it should be the natural ending to the first season, but we’re treated to another episode that hints at what this friendship, this makeshift family, is going to be like from now on. The pilot had a scene where an overwhelmed Maggie breaks down to Emma in the backyard’s play house. The finale bookends the season in the same setting but with the roles reversed. It’s a give-and-take friendship. Neither woman is more important than the other, nor does either want to be.
Playing House hasn’t had the best ratings (despite many efforts; they have a great social media presence, and it’s obvious Parham and St. Clair delight in interacting with fans on Twitter), but if USA is smart, the network will renew it. It should go without saying, but Playing House is consistently funny. The supporting cast includes everyone from Zach Woods to Jane Kaczmarek. There are laughs in both the smallest things, like the pronunciation of the word “cool,” and the bigger moments, like a Magic Mike-inspired strip show featuring the town’s cops. (If Keegan-Michael Key stripping to “Pony” isn’t enough to get you interested in this show, then I give up.)
But also? Playing House is necessary for USA’s slate. It’s only the network’s second original comedy, and it not only sticks out among USA’s offerings of dramas about male lawyers, male cops, and male doctors, but fills a genuine gap on TV as a whole. Television boasting a strong, balanced friendship between women that isn’t based on men or competition but instead on love and respect isn’t just wonderful — it’s incredibly important.