Critical Condition: Divorce

Divorce (SoHo, 8.30 Thursdays)

“In 1998, playing the relationship columnist Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City, Sarah Jessica Parker helped usher in HBO’s golden age and define a Manhattan gilded age. So it’s unavoidable to wonder if her new HBO series, Divorce, is Sex and the City 18 years later. It is not. It’s more like a comedy about the kind of people who once watched Sex and the City, 18 years later: suburbanites, pushing 50, for whom the sex (at least with their spouses) is nothing to wax literary about, and the city is a long train ride away. Divorce is not as dewy-eyed as its forebear, not as fresh in its material, and in its first outings, not as consistently funny. But it can be a caustic pleasure, a chaser, heavy on the bitters, to Carrie’s fruity cosmo.” — New York Times.

“HBO’s new half-hour comedy tests the limits of when behaviour becomes too obnoxious to be funny or even tolerable. The series stars Sarah Jessica Parker and Thomas Haden Church as a suburban couple whose marriage goes kaflooey after he discovers she’s been having an affair. The series was created by Sharon Horgan, the creator and co-star of the superb comedy Catastrophe, who at least deserves credit for trying something different in crafting a darkly turgid comedy-drama about a tiresome couple behaving badly.” — San Francisco Chronicle.

“The pilot’s outrageous turn of events probably played better on the page than on the screen, but the one thing it does with precision is anchor Divorce as a show that’s difficult to watch if you’ve been through a divorce — and maybe even harder to watch if (like so many people) you’re in an unhappy or crumbling marriage. If Divorce were more of a farce, or if it were angrier and more searingly detailed about the audacity of wanting it all — perfect partner, kids, a big fancy house and all the other calling cards of happiness — and still not being satisfied, maybe it could get more traction than being, at this point, merely good but not great.” —  The Hollywood Reporter.

“I suspect the show might find itself once it gets past the divorce and focuses on Frances and Robert rebooting their lives, or perhaps reconciling. For now, Divorce doesn’t work. It’s fitfully successful at capturing the pain of a broken marriage, but it’s more frequently painful for simply being broken.” — Entertainment Weekly.

Divorce carries the markings of a dark comedy about modern life and marriage, which might matter if the show felt modern or the marriage felt real. Instead, we’re being asked to care about the problems of a well-off, self-deluded woman who’s cheating on her selfish, idiotic husband with a selfish, idiotic lover while turning to two selfish, idiotic friends for help.” — USA Today.

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