I love a good, juicy primetime soap opera. I’m not sure if ABC’s new drama, “Queens,” is what I would call good, but it is definitely juicy and a whole lot of fun.
The queens of the title are four women who ruled the music charts as an R&B rap group back in 1999. But jealousy and other behind-the-scenes drama split them up and the ladies went their separate ways and moved on with their lives.
Brianna (Eve) is a mother of five struggling to keep her family together. Jill (Naturi Naughton) has the perfect life and marriage — or so it appears. Valeria (Nadine Velazquez) is an ambitious TV morning show host, while Naomi (Brandy) is a struggling singer/songwriter in Nashville.
When an up-and-coming rapper (Pepi Sonuga) covers the group’s smash hit, “Nasty Girl,” the ladies are thrust back into the spotlight. Soon, their former manager, Eric (Taylor Sele), presents an opportunity to bring the group back together. Now nothing like their ‘90s personas, the quartet sets out to put their differences aside and recapture the magic.
Very little of the drama on “Queens” is original. Cheating, love triangles, estranged children and secrets galore dominate the first hour. But the cast gels from the first moment you see the group perform together, and so you’re instantly sucked into their lives. And since we don’t learn much about why the group broke up, you can’t help but keep watching for more details about what happened. That persistence pays off with a triumphant ending to the premiere that beautifully sets up the rest of the series.
All four leading ladies are solid, and it’s pretty awesome when they unleash their enormous musical talents. But Brandy really stands out as the angry, struggling Naomi. It’s also fantastic to see Precious Way (whom I adored on “Days of Our Lives”) as Naomi’s spirited daughter.
The show is not going to win any Emmys, but it’s perfect as a fun escape. And a little female empowerment is never a bad thing.
“Queens” premieres at 10 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 19, on ABC. You’ll notice I left out the name of the group, as it — and the show — contain some strong language.