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    TV Critic’s Corner

    In ‘American Woman,’ the real housewife of Beverly Hills

    From left: Mena Suvari, Alicia Silverstone, and Jennifer Bartels in “American Woman.”
    Paramount Network
    From left: Mena Suvari, Alicia Silverstone, and Jennifer Bartels in “American Woman.”

    So y’all who watched the CMT Awards the other night, did you catch that Kelly Clarkson performance of the Guess Who’s “American Woman”? That wasn’t just CMT experiencing a sudden onset of decent taste in music; it was a not-so-subtle promotional push for the new Paramount (f.k.a. Spike) series, “American Woman,” airing at 10 p.m. on Thursday.

    It’s going to seem like I’m switching topics here, but are you a “Real Housewives” fan? You don’t have to say it out loud. Me too. So you may just flip a dinner table over to learn that “American Woman” takes as its focus the upbringing of “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” star (after a fashion) Kyle Richards — you know, the one who was disinvited to Nicky’s wedding! I KNOW, RIGHT?!

    This new scripted series follows sisters Kim and Kyle coming of age in 1975 Beverly Hills but centers on Alicia Silverstone as Bonnie, the fabulously struggling single mother of our future Housewives. So while “American Woman” may seem like an exercise in metagarbage — the half-true tale of the faux Real Housewives! — it actually offers a compelling dip into a strange niche in Hollywood history, when the only thing spreading faster than coke was second-wave feminism. (Mena Suvari and Jennifer Bartels play Bonnie’s BFFs and support system Kathleen and Diana, rounding out the refreshing no-man’s-land of the cast.)


    In the midst of #MeToo, this glimpse into the primordial pool of powerful creeps and the women who had to paddle through it feels worthwhile. 

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    But even if you boo at all things Bravo, “American Woman” may be worth a watch: The hair, the music, the sets, the fabrics, my god the fabrics, all sumptuously on point. And if, like me, your formative years developed within you an ability to sit and watch and re-watch Alicia Silverstone do just about anything, you’ll welcome her return to the spotlight (though Bonnie is a touch sharper than “Clueless” daughter Cher).

    Of course, if you need a dose of the raw stuff, there’s a new episode of “Real Housewives of New York City” next Wednesday. The ladies are still picking up the pieces after Countess Luann was charged with disorderly intoxication, battery on an officer, violently resisting arrest, threatening a public servant, and admittedly looking amazing doing it. Progress, I guess? 

    Michael Andor Brodeur can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @MBrodeur.