For better or worse – Sarah Jessica Parker returns to HBO with so-so drama ‘DIVORCE’


Preston Barta // Features Editor

It’s been over 13 years since the era-defining series SEX AND THE CITY ended on HBO. While we’re not getting a reunion anytime soon after the franchise’s second film in 2010, some may find comfort in knowing Sarah Jessica Parker has returned to the network that made her a star with a new series.

TV-MA, about 300 minutes.
Creator: Sharon Horgan
Cast: Sarah Jessica Parker, Thomas Haden Church, Charlie KilgoreMolly ShannonTalia BalsamSterling JerinsTracy LettsJemaine ClementJeffrey DeMunn and Dean Winters
Available today on DVD, Blu-ray and Digital HD.

HBO’s DIVORCE stars Parker as Frances, the soon-to-be ex-wife of Robert, played by Thomas Haden Church. Frances has grown disillusioned with her marriage and has taken a liking to a pretentious college professor (Jemaine Clement). From here, Robert and Frances’ love is put on the rocks and the end result doesn’t look pretty.

DIVORCE had the potential to be an exhilarating show about fading love, but instead feels too out of touch with reality and doesn’t take many risks to approach the subject from a fresh perspective. There are moments of candor, especially from Church’s character, who provides the story some warmth and laughter, but not enough to be excited about future seasons.

Most of my negativity toward the show could come from a mistake I made putting in the second disc of the two-disc set (perhaps a fault in the packaging?). I managed to watch the last five episodes of the 10-episode series first, which, to my surprise, still gave me a firm understanding of each of the characters and their relationships with other characters, including friends of the couple Diane and Nick (Molly Shannon and Tracy Letts).

Of course, there were a few head scratching moments that were later cleared up by watching the former episodes, but how bold the show could have been by skipping all the sad, mopey and cheating stuff to dive straight in, or use all of what came before as a parallel storyline.

But alas, DIVORCE is a classic case of same story, different show.

Grade: C+

Extras: Audio commentaries with Parker, executive producer/writer Paul Simms, and writers Tom Scharpling and Adam Resnick.

About author

Preston Barta

Hello, there! My name is Preston Barta, and I am the features editor of Fresh Fiction and senior film critic at the Denton Record-Chronicle. My cinematic love story began where I was born: off planet on the isolated desert world of the Jakku system. It's there I passed the time scavenging for loose parts with my good friend Rey. One day I found an old film projector and a dusty reel of the 1975 film JAWS. It rocked my world so much that I left my kinfolk in the rearview (I so miss their morning cups of green milk) to pursue my dreams of writing about film. It wasn't long until I met two gents who said they would give me a lift. I can't recall their names, but one was an older man who liked to point a lot and the other was a tall, hairy fella. They got me as far as one of Jupiter's moons where we crossed paths with the U.S.S. Enterprise. Some pointy-eared bastard said I was clear to come aboard. He saw that I was clutching my beloved shark movie and invited me to the "moving pictures room" where he was screening the 1993 film JURASSIC PARK to his crew. He said my life would be much more prosperous if I were familiar with more work by the god named Steven Spielberg. From there, my love for cinema blossomed. Once we reached planet Earth, everything changed. I found the small town of Denton, TX, and was welcomed into the Barta family. They showed me the writings of local film critic Boo Allen. He became my hero and caused me to chase a degree in film and journalism. After my studies at graduate of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I met some film critics who showed me the ropes and got me into my first press screening: 2011's THE GREEN LANTERN. Don't worry; I recovered just fine. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was only four years away.