This is a show that I didn't start watching last year until several episodes in, but it steadily grew on me. Although there is a soap opera aspect to some of the situations, there is a contrasting set of conversations between the characters that often feels very real.
The season premiere kicks off with two situations where women feel they are being pushed into a role they don't want to fill:
Kitty, who is engaged to a U.S. Senator running for President, has been relegated from his press secretary to his fiancee, and finds all the questions for her now concern her search for a wedding dress, or her brother Justin, who is serving in Iraq.
Sarah, a successful businesswoman who has recently separated from her husband, finds herself the object of suspicion and pity on the playground, not because of her marital status, but because she has spent so little time there, as her husband had been the primary caretaker. She suffers several digs about her ability to be a good mother "considering she works."
While I often enjoy watching Sally Field on the show, I find her character Nora to be the most melodramatic and over-the-top. Nora spends most of this episode obsessing over her soldier son, Justin, and marking the first anniversary of her husband's death. While I thought the show gave a good view into the weight of the ongoing uncertainty felt by soldiers' families, I didn't buy that Norah and the mistress, Holly, would share a good laugh at the errant husband's grave site.
By the end of the episode, Kitty has asserted herself with her fiancee, but not yet with the press. And Sarah has given in to her errant husband's advances, only to be rebuffed by him later. As the portrayal of their marriage ups and downs has been one I find very honest, I hope that we will continue to see their relationship play out on this new level. I imagine that Sarah will find her mothering obligations playing more heavily against her career now, so we'll see where the writers take that. Hopefully not in a Baby Boom direction...