Molly Kagan, the ex-wife of a thoughtless movie mogul who dumps her for a younger model, was supposed to be just a summer fling for Debra Messing.
Ms. Messing, casting about for a new challenge after the long-running NBC sitcom "Will & Grace" concluded in 2006, took on the role of Molly in "The Starter Wife," a six-part mini-series in May and June of last year on the USA Network. Ms. Messing's character, informed by cellphone that her husband wants a divorce, soon finds herself rejected by her (fake) friends, her country club and her charities, and seeks to remake herself as a writer and a single mother without cachet in Brentwood and Malibu.
Molly struck such a chord with both audiences and critics, garnering high ratings, good reviews and 10 Emmy nominations, that beginning Friday night "The Starter Wife" is back -- this time as a regular series.
Molly resonated with viewers, Ms. Messing said, because many women (men too) know a thing or two about reinventing themselves because spouses find them too familiar or too (fill in the blank). "The choices you make as a woman inevitably are messy, and no choice brings pure happiness," Ms. Messing said in an interview on a soundstage in this corner of the San Fernando Valley, perched on a tacky sofa squeezed between dangling cords and huge lights, an electric chair (a prop for a fantasy sequence) lurking in the distance. Thin, her auburn hair fluffed around her face, Ms. Messing, 40, was taking a break last month from filming a segment of the 10-episode season.