A Friday themeless puzzle, solved together with Hope, is a lovely way to end a workweek. It was a fun and smooth solve, with a number of excellent answers along the way.
It starts with 1A: Leading lady? (ALPHAFEMALE). We're all plenty used to seeing the masculine version of the same, so nice to acknowledge that leadership can arise from the other gender. Having it right above BAHAMAMAMAS and ICANTRESIST paints a picture of group of women CEOs on a corporate retreat at a resort...
Speaking of which, now that I look through the grid, I see MANIPEDI, DEMIGODESS, and Elaine BENES (played by Julia Louis Dreyfus). Not to mention Louise LASSER, Dorothy LAMOUR, Erykah BADU, HEIDI Gardner, and Ayn RAND. That's an impressive amount of female referents, MAAM.
Probably my favorite answer of the day comes at 28D: 13, for many (AWKWARDAGE). My own 13-year old self does not bear thinking about. Hopefully I've matured somewhat over the intervening years.
One answer that took all the crosses and then elicited an aha! was 37A: Complete set in musical comedy? (VOWELS). That includes A, E, I, O, U and even Y. Another one that took the crosses before I understood what was going on was 40D: Houston or Washington vis-à-vis Manhattan (STREET).
Acknowledgements to Hope, who got TUSKS and MADEBANK with almost no crossings.
This was a fun Friday, and so a good turn so far. Let's hope tomorrow's lives up to these standards!