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Divorce - Pilot - Advance Preview

Can a divorce ever be funny? Scrub that. Can a comedy, the premise of which is,
a very very long divorce, ever be funny? I’ll go with a big fat resounding yes. Sarah Jessica Parker returns to our television screens in the new HBO comedy “Divorce” which tells the story of a middle aged couple grappling with a shattered marriage and protracted divorce. Created by Sharon Horgan (“Catastrophe”), this is not sugar coated comedy. It’s as acerbic and razor edged as a divorce can be and it’s very very funny.

In the Pilot "Frances (Sarah Jessica Parker) and Robert (Thomas Haden Church) — a middle-aged couple in the suburbs of New York City — try to figure out if their marriage is worth saving after a shocking event at their friend Diane’s (Molly Shannon) 50th birthday party makes them take a hard look at their own lives.”

Like any pilot episode it needed to land the premise of the series solidly by the end in order to succeed. I’ll say that every thing you need to know you learn within the first five minutes, the first two minutes even. As Frances (Parker) and Robert, played by Oscar® nominee for the movie “Sideways”, Thomas Haden Church present themselves to us in the bathroom of their house in Westchester County NY, you know this couple are in trouble and we’re in for a treat. Everything is exposed with crisp fresh writing. Each character is both a hero and villain. In real life we might find ourselves in the position of needing to take a side when friends go through a divorce and it’s tempting to assume that as a viewer we must do so now. Don’t be drawn in to this. I started on one team, and switched to another then realised that there was equity in the portrayal of the characters. The writers are going to pull us this way and that, find sympathy with both sides and not allow us to play favourites. Parker may be selling the show but it’s definitely the couple that deliver. It takes two to make a marriage and it takes two to break a marriage even when it’s not obvious.

If you watched Horgan’s brilliant comedy “Catastrophe” you will immediately recognise her familiar comic timing and syntax. It’s dark, at times uncomfortable and often hilarious. Her characters have a solid mixture of realness and quirk. This is particularly the case for Church who at the start of the pilot appears to be the naive comedy fool. By the end you know he is no fool.

Much has been written of Sarah Jessica Parker’s return to HBO, deservedly so. She’s been missed. Sex in the City was iconic and of its time. It was a beacon comedy, especially for women. It’s easy to go into the pilot with Carrie Bradshaw in mind, even hoping for her return (if you were a SITC fan) but to make any comparison is unfair both on Parker and Horgan. Frances is not Carrie twelve years later. And Sarah Jessica Parker’s understated portrayal of Frances is a great foil to Church’s beautifully played off beat Robert.

“Divorce” is a comedy for grown-ups, not necessarily in age but in life, in experience. It is dry clever writing with authentic observations of the other side of marriage, a strong cast and a no holds barred attitude.

DIVORCE was created by Sharon Horgan, with Paul Simms serving as a showrunner; executive produced by Paul Simms, Sarah Jessica Parker, Sharon Horgan, Alison Benson and Aaron Kaplan. It starts on SUNDAY, OCT. 9 (10:00-10:30 p.m. ET/PT).

About the Author - Brouhaha
Maxine (aka Brouhaha) is a fan of Grey’s Anatomy and writes episode reviews and occasional articles. Her other TV favourites include Foyle's War, Criminal Minds, Bones, TBBT, Broadchurch, Catastrophe and despite her better judgement Madam Secretary. In real life she's a mum, self-employed and can often be found arguing about politics or current affairs, attempting to write fiction and buying hair products. Got a question - go to Tumblr ask!
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