October 05, 1987 12:00 PM

Dr. Sonya Friedman

Meet Sarah. Sarah is a drip. She has been put upon so long, she feels like a shelf. She lives with a husband who whines, a teenage daughter who pouts, a divorced mother who henpecks; for her part, sad sack Sarah placates. “Do you feel trapped in a meaningless life?” asks Dr. Sonya Friedman, a CNN TV psychologist and purveyor of platitudes. “I’m going to help you become a smart cookie.” Friedman uses a soap opera format, intercut with comments like “Think of yourself as your own best friend,” to expand on the message of her bestselling book of the same title: A woman’s life doesn’t end at 30. Sarah, played mournfully by actress Audrey Anderson, is on the cusp of 40 and crippled by lack of self-esteem. A job might be just the thing, but she feels she has no skills. “The best way to get your life off hold is to just jump in and do it,” declares Friedman. Sarah leaps into landscaping (for her neighbor) and, within 30 minutes, finds herself at a happy ending. Watching this story unfold is like being trapped in someone else’s therapy session. The problem isn’t that Sarah’s dilemma is uncommon or that Friedman makes you want to toss your cookies; her manner is warmly reassuring. The flaw in this dreary parable is that it is simpleminded. Wishy-washy women must learn to say no, says Friedman, “with no excuses, no apologies, no substitutes.” Smart cookies can start by saying no to this tape. (J2 Communications, $24.95)

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