“Divorce” (HBO) pilot preview: what happens 10 years after the “Sex” in the city?

sarah jessica parker glee

Written by Sharon Horgan (Dead Boss, Pulling, Catastrophe…) Executive produced by Sharon Horgan, Paul Simms (Girls, Bored to Death, NewsRadio) & Alison Benson. For HBO, Merman Films, Kapital Entertainment & Pretty Matches Prods.

Description: The story of a very, very long divorce, told through the eyes of 45 newyorker Frances, married for 15 years, with kids, before realizing there’s more to life than this relationship where there is no love anymore. With the help of her crazy friends Dallas and Diane, she’s decided to start over, if only her husband lets her...

With Sarah Jessica Parker, Thomas Haden Church, Molly Shannon, Jermaine Clement

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Successful English writer and actress Sharon Horgan is definitely not a quitter. Against all odds, she’s pursuing her American dream, even if it means writing a script every year that is always picked up to pilot but never picked-up to series. The list is quite impressive: Pulling (made twice for ABC), Bad Management and Bad Mom (still at ABC) and Dead Boss for FOX. Maybe she should stop giving such generic names to them? Sometimes they are adaptations of UK shows she did (and starred in), sometimes they are totally new ideas. This is the case of Divorce, entirely created for HBO. Is her style better suited for cable? It could be the key to finally go on air! What might also help is Sarah Jessica Parker who accepted the lead role. Apart from her guest appearances on Glee, it could be her big comeback on TV. Well, even if “It’s not TV, it’s HBO”.

Let’s just start with the giant elephant in the room: “Sex & The City“. It’s impossible not to compare Divorce to the iconic show. Everybody will. Because Sarah Jessica Parker IS Carrie Bradshaw. Because it is also set in New York (probably because the actress won’t leave). Because it could be considered as some sort of spiritual sequel to Sex & The City, a few years after the end of the second movie. Except Frances is not Carrie; her husband Robert is no Mr Big (and I was never a fan of him to be clear); there are teenage kids involved; but the writing is not that different. I’m even suspecting Sharon Horgan did it on purpose. In the end, the most obvious similarity is coming from Frances’ friends. Diane is batshit crazy. Or just momentaneously. I’m still undecided. She kills her husband. There, I said it! But she didn’t do it on purpose. Not really. We don’t really know in fact. The scene is outrageously fun, and I can totally picture Molly Shannon doing her magic with it, and then it’s sad. And heavy. And profound. It’s British! This is the moment when Frances realizes she’s not happy with her husband anymore. The moment when she tells him she wants a divorce. The moment when the show really starts.

I didn’t tell you about the other friend, Dallas. She’s already divorced (three times if I remember correctly) and she sounds more like a Samantha than a Charlotte. She may not be as sexually charged, but she’s fun and she gets the best lines. It’s impossible not to love her instantly. That’s pretty much it about the secondary characters. But last but not least: Julian. He’s 25 and Frances sleeps with him since an unspecified amount of time, at least just enough for her to feel like there could be more between them. I won’t tell you what happens next but it gets more and more complicated and the woman we felt compassion for is not a saint anymore. Honestly, that’s a relief. She’s way more interesting with her dirty little secret. I’m hoping she has many more. And her husband too. He’s just an ass for now. What if he’s more of a victim? Is there always a good guy and a bad guy on a relationship? Look at me. I’m going all Carrie Bradshaw with my computer and my little stupid but essential questions.

Divorce is not a departure from what HBO signature dramedies has offered us for the last five years and since pretty much all of them are good (Girls, Looking, I’m especially thinking about you) we won’t complain. But there’s also a Showtime vibe, reminiscent of strong female-led shows like Nurse Jackie, United States Of Tara or The Big C. And a tiny bit of Sex & The City, the One which paved the way. I’m not sure Divorce can become an HBO must-see, but it’s definitely something I want to watch. And we miss Sarah Jessica Parker badly, don’t we?

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