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

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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.

DIVORCE
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

I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.