SEX AND THE SUBURBS

divorce

After three season, HBO has pulled the plug on its uneven, but entertaining series Divorce. Revolving around divorced parents Frances (Sarah Jessica Parker) and Robert Dufresne  (Thomas Hayden Church), Divorce is a study in suburban, mid life crisis and what those pressures can do to a family when the ‘D’ word becomes reality.

In a nutshell, suburban art gallery owner Frances is languishing in the doldrums of suburban, long term married life and feels like her life needs a spark. She finds that spark in artist Julian (Jermain Clement) and dark hilarity ensues as the Dufresne family unravels once her affair is discovered. As Frances and Robert struggle to redefine themselves in their fifties, Frances is aided in her journey by friends Diane (Molly Shannon) and Dallas (Talia Balsam) while Robert is accompanied by a slew of suburban woman who are not saddened that he is now single.

On the surface, Divorce appears to be a light hearted romp through the suburbs of New York. However, once you dive a little deeper, the series touches on how divorce can skew the self worth and identities of all involved

My main complaint is that Divorce doesn’t seem to know what lane it is in. Is it a comedy or a drama? Does it touch on deeper issues or does it wilt under the weight of its lightness? Is the audience invited to laugh at a bunch of Viagra jokes or are we supposed to evaluate our society’s obsessions with staying young, keeping up with the Joneses, and  and maintaining social status?

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One aspect that certainly doesn’t warrant complaint is the chemistry between leads Sarah Jessica Parker and Thomas Haden Church. Admittedly, I have never been much of a SJP fan (more ambivalence than any real complaint), but she really shines in this role, even if her character can be described as an adult version of Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City.

As for THC, he plays his usual lumbering, kind hearted, stupid-as-a-fox character and does it well. Whether playing plane mechanic Lowell Mather in the criminally underrated 90’s classic Wings or cheating groom-to-be Jack Cole in Sideways, THC does awkward charm as well as anyone in the business and Divorce is no different. If you like this shtick, you won’t be disappointed.

Another area in which Divorce should be lauded is in it’s choice in music. Music director Michael Hill really hit’s it out of the park with playing selections that mirror the characters and their stations in life. For example, Robert listens to a lot of 70’s country/prog/classic rock (Poco, Yes, Supertramp) which makes sense for a man who leads a complicated life. Frances, on the other hand, is more introspective and cranks up the Coldplay, Al Jarreau, Walter Egan and Robert John. Well done.

In a nutshell, if you are a fan of SJP or THC, you are going to like this show. These two fine actors don’t stray far from the characters they have portrayed for the majority of their professional careers and don’t have to do to a well rounded cast, solid writing, and seamless chemistry.

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Divorce is the first entry where I introduce my ratings: PASS, BINGE, or WATCH. Divorce earns a solid WATCH as it isn’t a show you need to ignore, but it shouldn’t bump other shows in your queue, especially with new seasons of GLOW and Mind Hunter right around the corner. Pop some popcorn, take it slow, and enjoy.

DEPOSITIONS & SWORN STATEMENTS

  • Molly Shannon steals every scene she is in and it was great to see her land a role she could work with over multiple seasons. While I am not sure that she can carry a whole series by her self, she has established her self as a solid supporting actor and hopefully we see more of her soon.
  • The series ends on a somewhat ambiguous note, somewhere in between the ambiguity of Fleabag and The Americans. I always enjoy well done ambiguity.
  • The series clocks in at 24 episodes, each around 30 minutes, which is the perfect itinerary for watching in a month.
  • I would have been happy with more Jermain Clement. Who wouldn’t?

 

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