HBO’s ‘Divorce’ episode 2 review: The search for joy

Divorce -

Divorce” remains in some ways a frustrating comedy, largely because it’s barely a comedy at all. There are funny moments throughout the first two episodes, but in watching them you suddenly feel washed away more in the depression and some of the heartbreaking things that happened to these people. Frances and Robert both came across as pretty terrible in the pilot, but we did get a little more of a sense as to their redeeming qualities in this past episode.

For Robert, this is clearly just a man who was deeply hurt, and rather than taking responsibility for his own actions that led to Frances’ affair, he felt it easier to pass all of the blame on her and push her away. That’s why he ignored her, locked her out of their home, and refused to speak with her in public in a sensible way. It eventually took a misunderstanding over a dog that she was taking care of to even get her back in the house, and at that point the two started to work things out a little bit further. Yet, we’re still far from being out of the woods.

Meanwhile, through Frances we did get a feeling that she did love and care about Robert, and wasn’t just trying to keep the marriage together for the sake of the children. Even though she cheated on him a number of times with Julian, we still feel like Robert was almost even more in the wrong for threatening to make her look like a villain in front of the kids. Maybe in not doing it, he earns a little more redemption.

This episode opened up the window somewhat to these characters’ professional lives, and we saw how Robert can use construction and renovation as an escape. Meanwhile, Frances is clinging to a gallery dream that has yet to happen, and maybe in not working to fulfill that further, we’re looking at one of the sources of conflict in her life. She’s trying to fill an art-related void in her heart, and that plus marital problems may have led her to “Divorce.”

At the moment, “Divorce” is best viewed as a character study in how certain people think an act; they’re not generalizations, and they all feel fascinating and real. Yet, there’s still work to be done in the supporting cast, and we’d like to have a little more in the way of memorable humor. Episode Grade: B-.

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