Creator/executive producer/writer Marc Cherry’s “Why Women Kill” starts streaming Thursday on CBS All Access, and it is delicious. It’s not one, not two, but three parallel stories about three couples who all live in the same posh Pasadena home — one couple in the 1960s, one in the 1980s and one in the present day.
It began with an idea Cherry (“Golden Girls,” “Devious Maids”) said he’d been “carrying around for years” about a ’60s homemaker who, upon learning her husband is having an affair, “befriends his mistress, and that starts her on a journey of self-discovery.” But he wasn’t sure if that was enough to carry a 10-episode series until he “suddenly became kind of entranced” with three-parallel-stories idea:
• In 1963, Beth Ann (Ginnifer Goodwin, “Big Love”) is married to an exec (Sam Jaeger, “Parenthood”) who’s seeing a waitress, April (Sadie Calvano, “Mom”), on the side. (Cherry said that in conceiving Beth Ann, he imagined sitcom moms Donna Reed and Harriet Nelson.)
• In 1984, wealthy socialite Simone (Lucy Liu, “Elementary”) is married to Karl (Jack Davenport, “Smash”), who’s cheating on her with other men. (Cherry imagined Simone as Joan Collins and Linda Evans from the original “Dynasty.”)
• In 2019, high-powered lawyer Taylor (Kirby Howell-Baptiste, “Downward Dog”) is in an open marriage with screenwriter Eli (Reid Scott, “Veep”) — but things get awkward when they’re joined by Jade (Alexandra Daddario) in a throuple. (Cherry “went a little weird,” with lawyer Gloria Allred in mind for Taylor.)
All three of these stories will end in murder. All three murders will be committed by women. But the murderers are “not necessarily” the wives; the victims are “not necessarily” the husbands; and “not one person will be killed because of infidelity,” Cherry said. “Infidelity is just the starting point for these journeys.”
Don’t be deceived by all the talk of murder and self-discovery. “Why Women Kill” is often amusing, and sometimes downright hilarious. Liu, in particular, is a hoot as a diva who tells her husband, “F--- you! I want to see you suffer in a one-bedroom apartment next to the airport. And you will not deny me that pleasure!”
(Yes, this is CBS All Access, not the broadcast network, so there are F-bombs. “I get to swear. I feel like such a child. I’m just embarrassed for myself,” Cherry said, adding, “We’re trying to use it judiciously.”)
How, exactly, this all will end is a well-guarded secret. But the three stories will tie together in the finale “in a really glorious, surprising way that I’m so excited for everyone to see,” Cherry said. “I don’t want to spoil that because it’s delicious.”
And the end of the season will be the definitive end of the story. If there is a second season of “Why Women Kill,” it will be a different narrative with different characters.
“I already have an idea in place of how there will be women and there would be murder, but it would be a totally new way to do it,” Cherry said.
But maybe some of the same actors. “I’m absolutely going to try to bring back as many people as I can,” he said.
And, clearly, he’s chomping at the bit to do a second season for CBS All Access. Cherry gushed about having more freedom, time and money to create “a richer kind of storytelling” for the streaming series.
“Doing 10 episodes at a time feels like a much more manageable prospect,” Cherry said. “It’s great. You go — just let me figure out where I’m writing to and work backwards. So it was a blast. This has been the nicest, most wonderful experience of my career.”
Episode 1 of “Why Women Kill” begins streaming Thursday, Aug. 15, on CBS All Access; the nine remaining episodes will go online on successive Thursdays.