photo courtesy of the Imaginary Bitches MySpace

The opening “credits”, if you will, are airy, fresh-faced shots of series star Eden Riegel; sunny, seemingly innocent images that evoke the openings of long ago sit-coms like That Girl and The Mary Tyler Moore Show. That peaches-and-cream naiveté that is so familiar. That image will be irreverently shattered approximately 2 minutes later…

The episode itself begins with Eden and her friends, Liz, Connie and Brooke, enjoying lunch in a sunny café. Each of her friends are complaining about their significant others while Eden sits in rather uncomfortable silence, either because she has nothing to contribute or because her friends complain incessantly about innocuous things, like boyfriends forgetting dinner parties or only finding interest in blow jobs, which, well, duh, Connie… Eden then finds an interest in “Waiter Guy”, catching his eye for a refill on her water and exchanging wonderfully coy glances with him.

Cut to the next morning, as Eden lies awake in bed with a grin on her face and looks over her shoulder to find “Waiter Guy” confidently drooling a puddle the size of Lake Michigan onto his pillow. Still pleased with herself, she scurries out of the room to call her friends, ostensibly to alert them her dry spell has ended in spectacular fashion.

Sadly, her friends still have those significant others. Liz and Jake are off to Couples Pottery (really? WTF?), Connie and Aaron are having sex, at that very moment (but how typical that a woman would answer the phone during the act, proof that once again, men have no idea what they’re doing), and Brooke apparently regales Eden with yet another “adorable” story about her boyfriend, something that Eden has obviously heard one too many times before, if her scanning through a magazine as Brooke prattles on is any indication.

Excited about the previous night’s activities and with no one to share the story with, Eden hangs up the phone and blurts out: “I had two orgasms!” with a self-satisfied grin (er, no pun intended). Image handily and significantly shattered. But it’s at this exact moment, when Eden so badly wants a friend to confide in, that one shows up for her… Catherine, no, Caitlyn, no, it’s Catherine. Who’s imaginary… Not really there… Made up… Fictitious… And a raging bitch.

Seemingly popping out fully formed from Eden’s subconscious, this “friend” immediately engages Eden in conversation. A bitch from the get-go, Catherine tries mightily to take the bloom off Eden’s rose over the previous night with “Waiter Guy”. Eden, for her part, staunchly defends herself. They argue for a moment, Eden informing Catherine in no uncertain terms that she and “Waiter Guy” had made a connection, both while awake and asleep.

It is at this unfortunate moment that “Waiter Guy” appears, catching Eden in the midst of her confrontation with Catherine, wanting to know who she was talking to. Attempting to cover, Eden flashes a look that mixes pure panic with just a hint of madness. Eventually unable to sell the lie and backed into a corner, she blurts out that she has apparently created an imaginary friend who is, honestly, a bit of a bitch. It’s at this point when Eden really sells it, relaying Catherine’s comments to “Waiter Guy” as if she actually is right there in the room with them.

“Waiter Guy” actually buys into it for a moment, both distressed and appalled that Catherine has remained in the room even after he arrived and is still doling out criticism and snarky attitude! Eden then informs him that Catherine thinks the shirt he wore the previous night was horrible and made him look gay and that he should burn it or come out of the closet. Eden then delivers a wonderful double-take to the pillow and mouths “What the f*ck?” to the obnoxious imaginary friend, knowing suddenly that this is not going to end well. “Waiter Guy” quickly regains himself and the best exchange of the entire show ensues:

WG: Wow… I mean, you’ve gone from really cute to, like, bat-shit crazy in 5 seconds flat!

Eden: Well, that’s two seconds longer than you lasted last night!

Uh-oh… Argument and budding relationship over…

At this point WG calls Eden a freak and storms out of the room. Eden explains in exasperation that it’s not easy to make imaginary new friends and is left alone to wonder what might have been… or what the hell she just did…

And that’s how the first webisode ends. Eden has herself a new friend. And because of that friend, she had a one-night stand instead of the beginnings of a new relationship…

Ain’t that a bitch?

———-

This is a series that shows an inordinate amount of promise, if the premiere episode and two previous teasers are any indication. Too many times we see trailers for shows and movies where the best scenes are included in those previews. Not so this time. The show delivered well beyond what we were teased with in the weeks leading up to its premiere.

It’s well-paced, well-written and directed by Eden’s husband Andrew Miller, and, to this point, wonderfully acted. Eden sells the conversations with Catherine so believably I fully expect to see Catherine sitting there dishing out her opinion. It’s got to be one of the hardest things in acting to do comedy and to do it opposite an empty chair. And make it seem very real. The eye rolls, the indignation, the “That’s bullsh*t” responses bring Eden right down to earth, effectively tearing away the saintly exterior bestowed upon her during her run as the sweet, put-upon Bianca Montgomery on All My Children. Suddenly, she’s human and we can identify with that.

That Catherine made her “appearance” so early was also wonderfully done, seemingly appearing out of necessity. I look forward to Heather’s introduction since bitches like to travel in pairs, it seems.

The dialogue is snappy, snarky and witty. The editing, done by Academy Award ® nominee T.S. Riegel (yes, a relative of Eden’s [her half sister, in fact] – this is, if nothing else, a labor of love and a family affair) is smart and crisp, especially in the scene referenced above and Eden’s well-timed comeback.

There is one drawback to this wonderful little series. The premiere episode was only 5+ minutes long. I could very easily sit and watch another 10 to 15 minutes on my laptop, because when you’re laughing that much, time passes very quickly.

It’s hard to believe this show is being shot on a shoe-string budget (or rather, almost no budget) with its polished look and feel.

What’s not so hard to believe is just how well it’s being done.

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