My husband and I have always gotten hooked watching HBO Original Series shows. Our first was probably Sex and the City, then Six Feet Under, The Sopranos, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Flight of the Conchords to round out a great mix of comedy and drama. Watching them live and dying for the next episode, we couldn’t wait to buy them when the DVD or Blu-ray came out in stores to binge watch them all over again! Although we don’t subscribe to the channel anymore, we had heard of HBO’s Divorce through a friend. With a cast that included Sarah Jessica Parker, Thomas Hayden Church, Molly Shannon, and Jemaine Clement and our love for the shows they’re known for (who remembers Ned and Stacey?!), we were intrigued! I happened to receive an email opportunity to review season 1 of the series and jumped on it so quickly.
Let me premise this review by saying my husband and I have been married happily for almost 21 years. College sweethearts, we are in no way thinking about divorce with one another. When I got the Blu-ray in the mail, my children looked at us quizzically and worried why we’d be interested in something with the title of Divorce. It’s television, it’s fiction, it’s entertainment, although it can be very real. We have friends and family who have been divorced, or close to it, and the interest in watching has nothing to do with following through with the action. That being said, the series is somewhat a comedy. Not laugh-out-loud comedy though, it’s more awkward funny. Where we found ourselves smirking and smiling where the characters were making light of tough situations but only in few scenes in the 10 episodes did I laugh whole-heartedly.
Sarah Jessica Parker stars as Frances who is married to Robert, played by Thomas Hayden Church. Following a party of close friend Diane (Molly Shannon) which ends in her husband Nick’s massive stroke, Frances takes a second look at her own strained marriage and wants a divorce. Envisioning a smoother path, the episodes show Frances encountering many struggles revealing there’s nothing easy about ending a marriage.
Frances and Robert both have dreams of starting new businesses but their journey with counselors, lawyers, and money leaves them both slapped in the face. With common friends, two children, and in-laws to deal with, lies, infidelity, and deceit become prominent throughout the ten episodes. At a few moments like in the Christmas episode, I had high hopes the couple would reconcile. I’m not sure if that is me personally looking for a happy ending because I have a good marriage, but I see they don’t belong together.
The characters flip flop at being the stronger person and power player in the separation and the struggle is something I’ve seen personally around me. The acting is raw and real and even the frustration that comes in the finger flipping can express a million emotions. Check out this short video of the stars talking about the show!
The show includes very important situations regarding the children and how they can be lost in the shuffle of angry parents or miscommunication. When Lila ends up in the hospital, focus needs to be on how the kids play a role in all of the commotion. Just when you feel like everything is working out, a new move by a shark of a lawyer has the couple playing Russian roulette once again.
HBO’s Divorce is intense, I love the characters individually but know they shouldn’t be together. I looked forward to each episode, but felt sad and angry throughout the series. I have to be honest and say it scared me sometimes, especially when one partner can say they had no idea the other was so unhappy or that infidelity was never suspected. I do miss the happy squeals of Sarah Jessica Parker that I’m used to when watching reruns of Sex and the City. Molly Shannon plays a great role in the show, while I can’t say that I’m happy to see Jemaine Clement in his. I’m used to his silly humor, there’s little in Divorce.
The show can truly be a reality series that hooks you to watch and learn and I look to Season 2 to see where the story leads next. At the end, I’m asking myself, did Frances know what her lawyer did? Did you think that Robert was going to end it all? What is Frances’ mother’s secret? What will happen with Dallas? What will become of Nick and Diane? Own Divorce season 1 on DVD & Blu-ray, in stores now! It includes 3 exclusive commentaries with Sarah Jessica Parker and more.
Blu-ray was sent for honest review.