Divorce: Sarah Jessica Parker and Thomas Haden Church uncouple in HBO dramedy

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03 October 2016

HBO, Sunday, Oct. 9, 10 PM ET

By Lori Acken

Ah, the midlife marriage crisis. Happens to a lot of us. One day you wake up and realize the kids are growing up fast, the finances aren’t where you hoped, your best days (and best looks) are likely behind you and your better half doesn’t seem that great after all.

So it goes for Frances Dufresne on Divorce, HBO’s achingly poignant, fiercely funny dramedy from Sarah Jessica Parker’s Pretty Matches Productions, which premieres Sunday.

In her first televised lead role since Sex and the City, Parker dazzles as Frances, whose life in the NYC suburbs isn’t so bad — but it isn’t so satisfying either. When her splashy pal Diane (a made-for-the-role Molly Shannon) goes briefly off the rails, Frances takes it as a sign to free herself from domestic boredom with her bland but loving husband Robert (Thomas Haden Church) and chase what dreams she has left.

“I knew we could talk about being single at a certain age,” says the happily wed Parker, who for years longed to develop a show about a troubled union and connected with Divorce creator Sharon Horgan (Catastrophe) in 2014 via Parker’s partnership with HBO. “I knew we could talk about how complicated the finances are — and those very complications allowing people to behave very badly, because these lines of combat are drawn. Smart people making really not-smart choices, and behavior that’s almost unrecognizable to yourself, from yourself, by yourself. …There’s so much that’s rich with potential.”

And so much that’s recognizable for folks who’ve been in the Dufresnes’ shoes. Furtive glances at each other’s cellphones. Disastrous counseling sessions. Telling the kids. Shock at your partner’s rage. Rage at your partner’s actions. Wondering if any of this is really worth the promise of greener grass.

What makes Divorce so appealing is that it refuses to assign hero or villain. Frances can be self-absorbed and imperceptive. Robert, humorless and work-obsessed. Neither knows what the hell they’re doing as their union falls apart.

“What is it that allows you to love somebody and actually hate them sometimes?” Parker muses. “Why it all hurts so much is because you love them. It’s the love, and it’s the time spent and the commitments that have been made that kill you.”

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