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Christina Hendricks on being the one of the ‘Good Girls’ most likely to break bad

Christina Hendricks, star of NBC's "Good Girls," chats about her show's mash-up of genres and tones, and the complexity of her character in this video.

Six-time Emmy nominee Christina Hendricks thought her show “Mad Men” was “hilarious,” but most would probably agree it was a drama with comic moments. Her new show, “Good Girls,” blurs that line even more — to her delight.

“I loved the idea of doing comedy mixed with drama; I think that that’s how life is,” she said on a recent visit to the the Los Angeles Times video studio.

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“We play it very real. There are these very intense, dramatic moments that are sort of heart-wrenching and really hard. But these characters are just weirdos, and they’re out of their element, and so funny things ensue. They’ve known each other their whole lives, so they’ve got this weird-banter … hilarious kind of way that they communicate with each other.”

“Good Girls” is the story of three women who are extremely close (Hendricks as Beth, Mae Whitman as her sister, Annie, and Retta as their friend, Ruby) and are driven by dire financial need to rob the grocery store where Annie works. This sets off a chain of events that drags them deeper and deeper into a life of crime. Sometimes it’s played deadly serious, as when local gang boss Rio (Manny Montana) severely beats and even shoots Beth’s husband, Dean (Matthew Lillard). Sometimes it’s played for laughs as the admittedly amateur crew keeps getting into, and somehow out of, scrapes.

“They keep trying and thinking they know things, and all their experience is from things they’ve seen on TV or things they’ve heard about and every once in a while they pull it off in a way that you can’t believe they pulled it off, and at the same time, there are so many mistakes they have to go back and fix and cover up,” says Hendricks. “It’s an endless circle of mistakes.”

If the two main threads of “Good Girls” are the friendship of the protagonists and the possible incremental breaking bad of Beth, perhaps its greatest unspoken tension is what will happen to the former if the latter comes to fruition. What will happen to that close relationship the women share if Beth continues down the dark path she may be on now?

“I think that’s the fear,” says Hendricks. “I think that’s what this season, for Beth, is about: this sort of constantly trying to go back to her normal life and wondering why she’s attracted to this other thing and why it sort of excites her and feeling ugly for it and feeling ashamed. It’s this push and pull, this internal struggle, which was really emotional to play all year because she’s on the brink of losing it all the time. She knows what she should be doing, but she can’t help herself. She’s confused by it. I think she knows that if she pushes it too far, she might be alone.”

That “push and pull” is embodied in her intense relationship with Rio — a very bad boy for a still somewhat good girl and an apt metaphor for the draw and repulsion she feels to the whole criminal enterprise.

“He’s sort of like the figure that represents everything that’s happening. She’s never had a relationship like this or a person like this in her life and she doesn’t really know what it is. She’s like, ‘Uh oh! … Uh oh! Now what are we? We had sex, but we were business, and now what are we … Do you like me? Do you not like me?’ It’s very confusing.”

Hendricks embraces the complexity of Beth’s choices and the time the show is taking getting her to wherever she’s going to end up.

“There’s a dichotomy of the things that are really Beth, because when you see her with a million cupcakes and cookies out and making perfect sandwiches with faces and getting her kids safely to school, that’s very, very Beth. And then there’s a moment where she says, in Season 1, I think it’s in the pilot: ‘Are we gonna sit around and let people dictate what happens to us or are we gonna take control and do it ourselves?’ And that’s very Beth,” she says.

“She’s on an emotional roller coaster. Even she doesn’t know what defines Beth.”

To watch the entire interview, click on the video below.

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