The Starter Wife
Created byGigi Levangie
Written by
  • Josann McGibbon
  • Sara Parriott
  • Gigi Levangie (novel)
Directed byJon Avnet
Country of originUnited States
No. of episodes6
  • Jon Avnet
  • Stephanie Davis
  • Howard Klein
  • Gigi Levangie
  • Josann McGibbon
  • Sara Parriott
Production companiesHaypop Productions
3 Arts Entertainment
McGibbon-Parriott Productions
Original release
NetworkUSA Network
ReleaseMay 31 (2007-05-31) –
June 28, 2007 (2007-06-28)

The Starter Wife is a 2007 USA Network television miniseries, based on the 2006 novel of the same name by Gigi Levangie Grazer. Its title is derived from the concept of a starter marriage. Filmed over four months in Queensland, Australia,[1] the plot focuses on Molly Kagan (Debra Messing) who, after years of marriage to a Hollywood film mogul, is forced to redefine herself and her role in society when her husband leaves her for a younger woman.

The mini-series premiered with a two-hour presentation on May 31, 2007 at 9:00 pm ET. The premiere attracted 5.4 million viewers, with 2.8 million of them being adults aged 25–54 (the network's target demographic). Ratings steadily decreased as the series progressed. The series is available for purchase on iTunes (to American customers only) and was available for DVD purchase starting September 11, 2007.

The miniseries was nominated for ten Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Miniseries, Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie (Debra Messing), Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie (Joe Mantegna), Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie (Judy Davis), and Writing for a Miniseries, Movie, or Dramatic Special (Josann McGibbon & Sara Parriott). Davis was the sole winner, while Messing was also nominated for a Golden Globe Award and Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Actress in a Miniseries or TV Movie.

Although initially intended as a one-shot miniseries, USA subsequently ordered The Starter Wife as a new series for the 2008 spring season.[2] Production on the series first ten-episode season was delayed due to the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike, and began airing October 10, 2008.


Nielsen Ratings by episode

Episode # Title Air Date Rating[3] 25–54[4] Viewers Cable Rank[5]
1 & 2 "Premiere" May 31, 2007 3.7 2.8 5.39 #5
3 "Hour 3" June 7, 2007 2.7 ? 3.92 #7
4 "Hour 4" June 14, 2007 2.5 ? 3.55 #9
5 "Hour 5" June 21, 2007 2.2 ? 3.15 #22
6 "Finale" June 28, 2007 1.7 ? 2.82 #29

International broadcasting

Country TV Network(s) Series Premiere Weekly Schedule
United States United States USA Network May 31, 2007
Canada Canada A-Channel September 10, 2007 Mondays at 9:00 pm
Australia Australia Network Ten December 5, 2007 Wednesdays at 8:30 pm
Thailand Thailand Hallmark Channel October 21, 2007 Sundays at 8:00 pm
Malaysia Malaysia Sundays at 9.00 pm
Singapore Singapore
Hong Kong Hong Kong
Philippines Philippines
Portugal Portugal MOV December 2007
TVI November 2009 Thursdays at approximately 00:15 am
Brazil Brazil Rede Telecine / People+Arts October 2007
United Kingdom United Kingdom Sky Movies Drama December 10, 2007 Mondays at 9:40 pm
Turkey Turkey CNBC-e September 18, 2008 Thursdays at 9:00 pm
Sweden Sweden Kanal 5 March 11, 2008 Tuesday at 9:00 pm
Germany Germany Premiere February 19, 2008 Tuesdays at 8:15 pm
Croatia Croatia Nova TV announced TBA
France France Canal+ August 7, 2008 Thursdays at 8:50 pm (2 episodes)
Spain Spain Cosmopolitan TV (cable) February 2, 2009
TVE 2 July 2009
Italy Italy Mya September 4, 2008 Thursdays at 9:00 pm
Switzerland Switzerland SF zwei November 17, 2008 Monday at 8.00 pm
Hungary Hungary TV2 May 26, 2009 Friday at 10.15 pm
Japan Japan Star Channel(CS) October 2008
The Middle East Showseries Showtime Arabia
Netherlands Netherlands RTL8 January 3, 2010 Sundays at 8.00 pm
Republic of Ireland Ireland TG4
Belgium Belgium La Une June 2010 Thursdays at 10:00 pm (2 episodes)
Serbia Serbia Fox Life

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
Artios Awards Outstanding Achievement in Casting – Television Mini Series Mary Jo Slater, Steve Brooksbank, and
Tom McSweeney
Won [6]
Online Film & Television Association Awards Best Miniseries Nominated [7]
Best Actress in a Motion Picture or Miniseries Debra Messing Nominated
Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture or Miniseries Joe Mantegna Nominated
Best Costume Design in a Motion Picture or Miniseries Nominated
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Miniseries Josann McGibbon, Sara Parriott,
Jon Avnet, Stephanie Davis,
Howard Klein, Gigi Levangie Grazer,
Jeff Hayes, and Marsha Oglesby
Nominated [8]
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie Debra Messing Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie Joe Mantegna Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie Judy Davis Won
Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special Josann McGibbon and Sara Parriott Nominated
Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards Outstanding Art Direction for a Miniseries or Movie Tracey Gallacher, Brian Edmonds, and
Rolland Pike
Outstanding Casting for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special Mary Jo Slater, Steven Brooksbank, and
Tom McSweeney
Outstanding Costumes for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special Marion Boyce, Debra McGuire, and
Vanessa Loh (for "Part 1")
Outstanding Makeup for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special (Non-Prosthetic) Viv Mepham and Deborah Lanser Nominated
Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Miniseries or a Movie Robert Florio (for "Part 3") Nominated
Satellite Awards Best Miniseries Nominated [9]
Best Actress in a Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television Debra Messing Nominated
Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Miniseries or
Motion Picture Made for Television
Judy Davis Nominated
Art Directors Guild Awards Excellence in Production Design Award – Television Movie or Mini-series Tracey Gallacher, Brian Edmonds, and
Michelle McGahey
Nominated [10]
Australian Film Institute Awards Best Actress Judy Davis Nominated [11]
Costume Designers Guild Awards Outstanding Made for Television Movie or Miniseries Debra McGuire and Marion Boyce Nominated [12]
Directors Guild of America Awards Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Movies for Television or Miniseries Jon Avnet Nominated [13]
Golden Globe Awards Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film Debra Messing Nominated [14]
Gracie Awards Outstanding Female Lead – Mini-Series Won [15]
Outstanding Supporting Actress – Mini-Series Judy Davis Won
NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special Anika Noni Rose Nominated [16]
Producers Guild of America Awards David L. Wolper Award for Outstanding Producer of Long-Form Television Jon Avnet, Josann McGibbon,
Marsha Oglesby, and Sara Parriott
Nominated [17]
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie Debra Messing Nominated [18]
Writers Guild of America Awards Long Form – Adaptation Sara Parriott and Josann McGibbon;
Based on the book by Gigi Levangie Grazer
Nominated [19]


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  3. ^ "TV Ratings ... on Zap2it". Zap2it.
  4. ^ "TV Ratings ... on BroadcastingCable".
  5. ^ "Week of December 11th-17th/2006 complete ratings".
  6. ^ "2007 Artios Awards". Retrieved November 5, 2007.
  7. ^ "11th Annual TV Awards (2006-07)". Online Film & Television Association. Retrieved May 15, 2021.
  8. ^ "The Starter Wife". Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Retrieved July 13, 2017.
  9. ^ "2007 Satellite Awards". Satellite Awards. International Press Academy. Retrieved July 10, 2021.
  10. ^ "Nominees/Winners". Art Directors Guild. Retrieved July 28, 2018.
  11. ^ "Winners & Nominees 2008". AACTA Awards. Retrieved December 6, 2008.
  12. ^ "10th Costume Designers Guild Awards". Costume Designers Guild. Retrieved May 21, 2016.
  13. ^ "60th DGA Awards". Directors Guild of America Awards. Retrieved July 5, 2021.
  14. ^ "The Starter Wife – Golden Globes". HFPA. Retrieved July 5, 2021.
  15. ^ "2008 Gracies Gala Winners". Gracie Awards. October 19, 2016. Retrieved September 11, 2022.
  16. ^ "The 39th NAACP Image Award Nominations". Variety. January 8, 2008. Retrieved January 8, 2008.
  17. ^ DiOrio, Carl (January 21, 2008). "PGA unveils final producer lists". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 3, 2020.
  18. ^ "The 14th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards". Screen Actors Guild Awards. Retrieved May 21, 2016.
  19. ^ "Previous Nominees & Winners: 2007 Awards Winners". Writers Guild Awards. Archived from the original on May 12, 2015. Retrieved May 7, 2014.