I flushed my morals down the toilet to ship Beth and Rio on ‘Good Girls’

A woman (Christina Hendricks as Beth Boland on

If you asked one of my loved ones whether I’m a “good girl” or a “bad girl,” they’d probably laugh in your face. As in, it’s hilarious to imagine me doing anything worthy of a “bad girl” title.

I’ve always been a rule follower with ridiculously high moral standards. But in 2018, the NBC crime-dramedy Good Girls started bringing out the bad girl in me — if only for 40 minutes a week.

The four-season series, created by Jenna Bans, follows best friends and suburban moms Beth Boland (Christina Hendricks), Annie Marks (Mae Whitman), and Ruby Hill (Retta) as they attempt to figure out their family’s financial struggles. After a desperate decision to hold up a grocery store, the moms wind up navigating a life of crime under Rio (Manny Montana), a ruthless gang leader who’s into money laundering and a slew of other illegal activities.

Now, despite having a kid of his own and enjoying the occasional trip to Legoland, Rio is genuinely a bad boy. He’s not one of those harmless, leather jacket-wearing, good-hair-having bad boys like Jess Mariano on Gilmore Girls. Rio is the type of guy who will hold you at gunpoint, shoot your family members, and kill your friends right in front of you. He’s a hardened criminal, who commits truly atrocious acts, but unfortunately, he’s also incredibly sexy, intelligent, charming, and has a sweet spot for Beth.

Ugh.

A man (Manny Montana as Rio in "Good Girls") staring at a woman (Christina Hendricks as Beth Boland) while they sit at a bar together.
Just look at that stare. Credit: Jordin Althaus / NBCU Photo Bank / NBCUniversal via Getty Images

As a logical human being, I know Rio is bad news. I know that Beth should stay away from him at all costs. And I know that any sort of relationship between the two — be it business or personal — would be problematic. But I also know that their chemistry is magnetic, their sparks are undeniable, and the sexual tension in the air every time they share a scene is so thick that I can’t help but ship them at all costs.

As a certified “good girl,” rooting for Brio is admittedly nonsensical. But with each new episode Good Girls made me scream “to hell with right and wrong!” and flush my morals down the toilet.

A woman (Christina Hendricks as Beth Boland in "Good Girls") staring at a man (Manny Montana as Rio).
While you’re at it, look at THAT stare! Credit: Jordin Althaus / NBCU Photo Bank / NBCUniversal via Getty Images

In Season 1, Episode 5, “Taking Care of Business,” the FBI starts circling in on Beth and questioning her involvement with Rio. “They’re gonna wanna know what someone like me is doing with someone like you,” Beth tells Rio during a cash exchange. “What are you doing with someone like me?” Rio asks in his raspy voice. He then suggests that Beth tell the FBI agents she was having an affair with him to throw them off the trail.

Initially, Beth scoffs at the idea and says she wouldn’t even know how to say such a thing. But the episode ends with her sharing an elaborate work of fanfiction that detailed her and Rio’s first sexual encounter. It’s a made-up retelling so believable that —by the end — I’m sure the FBI agent was shipping Brio too.

When I try to determine what exactly made Beth and Rio tick, I can’t single out any one thing.

Their sparks are an amalgamation of his tattoos, his ability to flawlessly rock a beanie as a grown man, his predominantly black wardrobe, and his refusal to call Beth by her nickname like everyone else who knew her. (To him, she was Mrs. Boland, or mama, or more often than not, Elizabeth.) He made her feel alive. The fact that she took his operations to new levels, wasn’t afraid to challenge him, and realized the cover her ordinary lifestyle gave his business was invaluable made him feel the same. Though her husband was a banal, unfaithful man who lost the family’s money, Beth was technically a married woman, which made a romance between her and Rio all the more forbidden and exciting.

I won’t spoil the entire series, but I will say that after many episodes filled with clandestine meetings in cars, playgrounds, parking lots, and park benches; day-drinking whisky together at bars; and Rio repeatedly using a single finger to move Beth’s hair out of her face, the two do act on their feelings for each other. To say the scenes were steamy would be an understatement. 

Over the course of the show’s 50 episodes, Beth and Rio betrayed each other more times than I could track. I know it’s ridiculous and wrong, but after all the chaos, the backstabbing, the cheating, the lives lost, the money laundered, the figurative red flags, and the literal shots fired, I shipped them until the very last second of the series finale. And I wasn’t alone.

Brio inspired fan accounts across TikTok, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, along with a plethora of fan edits on YouTube. Even NBC’s official Good Girls YouTube channel made a series of Beth and Rio compilations with titles like “Beth and Rio: The History of Hotness” and “Rio’s Got a Way with Words.” But even those mashups don’t do Brio’s hotness justice.

Good Girls was unexpectedly canceled in 2021 after its fourth season due to financial and scheduling issues. There was also speculation that a rocky working relationship between Hendricks and Montana, who portrayed Beth and Rio, played some role in the show’s early departure.

Though Brio fans would have loved to explore the relationship further, the series finale offered the two characters an open ending that was satisfying enough. Their lightning-in-a-bottle chemistry will live on in rewatches. But it’s time I call a plumber to help me fish my morals out of the toilet.

The first three seasons of Good Girls are now streaming on Netflix.

Leave a Reply