When we first saw the trailer for “Divorce,” the initial thought that entered our mind was that maybe this would be a tongue-in-cheek comedy, a chance to see Sarah Jessica Parker break away from Carrie Bradshaw into a different sort of character study. Our feeling was that of excitement.
After watching the debate play out, that said feeling may have shifted ever so slightly into that of depression. This was a premiere episode that was funny at times, but also incredibly sad at others. Nobody on this show is establishing themselves as particularly likable: We’ve got a husband passive-aggressively bashing his wife during a birthday toast, said wife later shooting at him, Parker’s Frances cheating on Robert (Thomas Haden Church) both before and after telling him that she wants a divorce, and then Robert locking her out of the house when he hears about it.
The biggest strength of “Divorce” is in its reality. There are plenty of unlikable people out there who think and act this way, especially when you start to settle in to a life and realize you’re unhappy with it. This show tries its best to reflect that with mustache jokes here and there thrown in. There are situations and feelings that some out there can relate to. Yet, at the same time is it too close to reality? People watch television more to avoid the conflicts of life, and this may remind you of almost every relationship disagreement you’ve ever had. The closest comparison we can draw is between this show and “Girls,” which also features characters who are often not likable, but over time, you start to appreciate many of them because of their flaws. If “Divorce” eventually makes it to that point, there may be a time where we sit back, watch this pilot, and realize that it was going to an incredibly enjoyable place.
Episode Grade: B-. For now, we’d say that the pilot episode didn’t do enough to really make us invested in this world, and while it was grounded at times, it also went over-the-top at others, such as the whole shooting situation. There is humor to be found here, but it needs more time to breathe. Maybe the upcoming episodes will accomplish that now that the exposition is set in stone.
Next week – For more on the future of “Divorce,” head over to this link — we’re going to have a preview up shortly for some of what’s coming this season. (Photo: HBO.)