June 3, 2013 at 12:59 PM ET
"I can't believe I did what I did," says Alyssa Milano in a scene from Mistresses, ABC's newest nighttime soap (Mondays at 10 p.m. ET).
"Do you want to talk about it?" asks Yunjin Kim (who's best known as Sun, on ABC's Lost).
"No," Milano replies. "Yes."
The scene—which arrives halfway through ABC's trailer—sums up the essence of this guilty pleasure TV show. Four stylish women in their late 30s (Milano, Kim, Jes Macallan and Rochelle Aytes) give in to forbidden desires, and then indulge in the extra pleasure of hashing it all out, ad nauseum, with their girlfriends. Watch here:
There's nothing new about TV producers appealing to bored housewives, and this show's not aiming to reinvent the wheel. It just wants to deliver some relatable fantasy, and on that account, it works. Milano plays a childless attorney named Savi, whose hunky husband hasn't been able to give her the baby she desires. Predictably, fruitless baby-making attempts have turned their sex life mechanical. "I want to be treated like a sexual being, you know?" Savi tells him. "I miss that." Cue the broad-shouldered lawyer at her firm who's all-too-ready to provide that service. And it's not long before Savi just can't believe what she's done. Watch a more in-depth clip here:
As you can see, viewers also get alternative (not-so-steamy) views of what happens when people cheat. Aytes is a widow whose philandering late husband has left behind a child with another woman. Macallan is a wild child who's obviously working hard to convince everyone (herself included) that she's okay with being the other woman—and that she even prefers it that way. We give her two episodes before she falls apart. When she does, though, she'll have her friends to fall back on.
Sex & The City—the original, groundbreaking forerunner to all the campy, glitzy, girl-powered sex dramas that have followed—established that credo way back when Carrie Bradshaw was traipsing around Manhattan. Guys come and go, but girlfriends are forever. (Of course, when you're with your girlfriends, you discuss one thing: guys.) This promo for Mistresses shamelessly steals this Sex & the City-inspired message:
But here's the problem: When it comes to shows that purport to be about sex—but are really about female friendship—there's just no topping Sex & the City. Just check out this naughty clip from that beloved, groundbreaking show. You'll soon remember why everything that's arrived since, including Mistresses, is just kind of tepid:
A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.