There is something both very familiar and very alien about the characters and the world of AOL's Little Women, Big Cars.
We all know a group of soccer moms with a dynamic like the one depicted in this AOL scripted series. There's Meg (the supermom) and her cohorts Barbara (the feminist divorcée, played by Julie Warner), Rocky (the diva), and Connie (the diva's BFF). But through the eyes of outsiders, the world they inhabit is often perceived as small, driven by overprotective, neurotic tendencies.
The Vuguru-produced Little Women invites the audience to experience that world's intricacies as a way to cast away any preconceived notions about the difficulties of being a mother while also gently poking fun at that sub-culture. However, despite the creators’ best intentions, the shallowness with which the show treated that world in its first season disappoints; the potential is there, but often falls flat.
This is mostly due to weak directing—the overall vision of Season 1 feels superficial, while the performances lack heart. All too often, great lines of dialogue lack emotional punch.
This is particularly true of the protagonist Meg (Amy Yasbeck) and her interactions with her husband. In an early episode, Meg is complaining to her husband, who is clearly not paying attention. She sounds like an adult in a Peanuts show, and he answers her as if she were speaking normally. That's not entirely original, but it is well written. There is just something off about it.
Plus, too often Little Women's main characters are just too one-dimensional, particularly compared to more entertaining secondary counterparts (The show's comic relief, Connie and Meg, remind me of both C3PO and R2D2 from Star Wars and Lumiere and Cogsworth from Beauty and the Beast). However, the one thing I was impressed by was the creators' gutsy choice to never really show the children's faces throughout the season. It's a powerful narrative choice: This world is about the (sometimes selfish) mothers.
This being said, the second season of AOL's "Little Women, Big Cars" is a monumental improvement on its first. The performances, production values, and storylines have all been taken to another, more mature level. For example, when Rocky (Kristy Swanson) enters her daughter Rhiannon into a beauty pageant, each member of the group takes a position on it. The choices each make are familiar but complex, and smartly cover real-world parenting struggles.
Another great moment is when Rocky and Connie argue about the snacks each brought for their daughters to have after practice. Rocky warns Connie that feeding her daughter meatball subs and cake after soccer practice will eventually make her chubby, while Connie warns Rocky that feeding her daughter only a handful of baby carrots after practice leaves her hungry and prone to bad eating habits. It's a small argument that gets resolved rather quickly, but that nonetheless resonates in the way these two women are shaping their daughters' lives.
Overall, Little Women Big Cars has improved exponentially, but still needs a little work to elevate the show from OK to great.