Girlfriends are wonderful. "Girlfriends" is not.
Still, it's better than last year's first new series, "The Parkers," a sitcom broader than its stars' waistlines.
Actually, compared to most UPN sitcoms, "Girlfriends" is a peach, but in the larger TV scheme, it's a low-rent, less audacious "Sex and the City." Or a louder, less topical "Living Single."
Four twentysomething women are the girlfriends of the title, with Joan (Tracee Ellis Ross, Diana's daughter) as the clear leader. She's a successful attorney with a more streetwise assistant, Maya (Golden Brooks), who sometimes clashes with sugar-daddy-seeking Toni (Jill Marie Jones). Hippie chick Lynn (Persia White), a college friend of Joan's, lives with Joan while continuing her education.
Tonight, Joan dreads turning 29, especially when she discovers Toni is dating her toe-sucking ex-boyfriend. When he arrives at her apartment, the scene freezes and Joan's face fills the screen as she talks to the audience directly: "OK, ladies, take note: This is where I turn, and he pops a wheelie because he realizes all this booty could have been his."
Somehow, the easy-to-like Ross makes this line loads less egregious than it should sound, but the direct address gimmick is best left to "Malcolm in the Middle."
There's one other cast member worth noting: Reggie Hayes plays William, Joan's co-worker. Hayes has made a favorably funny impression in several past failed series, most notably Fox's "Getting Personal." He gets some choice moments in the "Girlfriends" pilot, too.
In addition to "Girlfriends," UPN also premieres "The Hughleys" (9 p.m.), which aired on ABC the past two seasons. "The Hughleys" was an OK comedy about a black family that moves to the white suburbs, but it never received a fair shake from ABC.
Too bad the show's UPN premiere -- including the first of what will probably be far too many lame "Survivor" parodies -- is so generic.
There's actually more fun to be had spending a half-hour with "Girlfriends" than with "The Hughleys."
Rob Owen can be reached at 412-263-2582 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Post questions or comments about TV to www.post-gazette.com/tv under TV Forum .