Sharon Small

'Mistresses' on BBC America

'Mistresses' on BBC America

“Mistresses,” which premieres tonight, takes itself pretty seriously considering its title. Yes, the one-hour BBC drama is a sexual soap opera in which a quartet of lovely and complicated women negotiates alarmingly fraught romantic lives, but honestly, there's not a "mistress" among them.

Adultery abounds, you can be sure, but it's thoroughly democratic -- no one's sitting around on her peignoired fanny awaiting the whim of her rich married lover or flipping open a jeweled ring to dump poison into the foaming latte of said lover's wife. Which is sort of what the term "mistress" still conjures.