The Starter Wife
Created byJosann McGibbon and Sara Parriott
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes10
  • Gigi Levangie Grazer
  • Debra Messing
  • Josann McGibbon
  • Sara Parriott
Running time1 hour
Production companies
Original release
NetworkUSA Network
ReleaseOctober 10 (2008-10-10) –
December 12, 2008 (2008-12-12)

The Starter Wife is a USA Network romantic comedy television series based on the miniseries of the same name, and the novel of the same name by Gigi Levangie Grazer. It premiered on October 10, 2008 and ended on December 12, 2008, lasting one season. The series starred Debra Messing as Molly Kagan, the ex-wife of a former studio executive named Kenny Kagan (David Alan Basche).

Picking up where the mini-series left off, Molly finds herself trying to carve out a new life as a single mother raising her daughter Jaden in the middle of the dysfunctional world surrounding the film industry. Molly has vowed to swear off men after the failure of her "happy ending" relationship with a homeless man, and soon finds herself developing as a writer even as her relationship develops with her writing group leader.

The series ran one season and was cancelled by USA in February 2009.[1] In regard to the show's cancellation, Debra Messing, during a conference in 2012, told reporters: "We were finishing the first season right when the economy collapsed." She added, "We were the most expensive show the network had ever had...I heard rumors about we doing half the original budget ($1 million per episode), but that couldn't work because it was about the brand, and that luxurious world. And when you take that away from it, it stops being the show what it is. The dark humor, and comedy won't land."[2]


Recurring characters

Hollywood metaphors

The series uses extensive Hollywood metaphors as part of its narrative structure. Each episode includes two or more fantasy sequences, featuring Molly as the lead character in a well-known, generally big box-office film. Every episode opens with the first of these, which takes place in the form of Molly's dreams about recent events in her life. Typical of this is the fantasy from the opening episode, a play on the end of the film Elizabeth. In the fantasy Molly swears off men in the manner of Elizabeth I declaring herself married to England at the film's end. Other fantasy sequences punctuate important story points. Similarly, episode titles are corruptions of film titles (as with "The French Disconnection" and "Look Who's Stalking") or suggestive of Hollywood phenomena (such as "Mollywood", a play on "Hollywood".)


No.TitleFantasy sequence(s)Original air date
1"The Forty Year Old Virgin Queen"Elizabeth (opening)October 10, 2008 (2008-10-10)
2"The Diary of a Mad Ex-Housewife"Mission Impossible (opening)October 10, 2008 (2008-10-10)
3"The Remains of the Snow Day"Blair Witch Project (opening)October 17, 2008 (2008-10-17)
4"Mollywood"Castaway (opening); The Deer HunterOctober 24, 2008 (2008-10-24)
5"Das Booty Call"Body Heat (opening)October 31, 2008 (2008-10-31)
6"The Ex-Files"Hello, Dolly! (opening)November 7, 2008 (2008-11-07)
7"The French Disconnection"Scream (opening)November 14, 2008 (2008-11-14)
8"Look Who's Stalking"The Godfather (opening), Dirty HarryNovember 21, 2008 (2008-11-21)
9"Her Old Man & the Sea"Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (opening), A Few Good MenDecember 5, 2008 (2008-12-05)
10"A Woman Over the Influence"The Green Mile (opening), Basic InstinctDecember 12, 2008 (2008-12-12)

Home media

On March 10, 2009, Universal Studios Home Entertainment released the full series on DVD in Region 1. The DVD includes audio commentary on two episodes and a segment on the creation of the fantasy sequences.

International broadcast

The Starter Wife was shown on Irish TV Channel 3e[3] It was shown for a time on TV3 in New Zealand on Saturdays at 3:00pm.


  1. ^ "USA Network's leaving 'Wife' - Entertainment News, TV News, Media - Variety". Archived from the original on 2009-02-16.
  2. ^ Video on YouTube
  3. ^ "The Starter Wife - TV3". Archived from the original on 2009-10-26.