Sarah Jessica Parker has been synonymous with her Sex And The City alter-ego Carrie Bradshaw since the series ended well over a decade ago. She took a break from her medium of choice and focused on other projects; a shoe line, a range of perfumes and raising a family. So it makes sense that many are anticipating her return to the small screen – her first project after such an iconic series was always going to be a big deal.
And out of the ashes and the brilliant mind of IMAGE-favourite Sharon Horgan comes ‘Divorce,‘ the HBO-produced new series detailing the life of a couple whose relationship reaches crisis point. Parker stars as the 50-something Frances, a dissatisfied woman seeking a divorce from her husband and the father of her children (played by the hugely likeable, if craggy Thomas Hayden Church) after 18 years of marriage. This is, the polar opposite of the mostly optimistic SATC; the setting doesn’t pretend to be anything other than what it is – a realistic (if peppered with gloss), darkly comic look at the pain of two people having to separate lives so closely intertwined. There’s anger, hurt and even vomiting into wine glasses, all with plenty of humour, as is Horgan’s forte.
Her previous cult comedies Pulling and Catastrophe explored single life, marriage and parenthood. This one takes a closer look at what happens when the latter goes belly-up, which she said she had to research. Horgan writes about what she knows; comedy, relationships and parenting so writing about divorce were new to her – “well, I’m Irish,” she quipped in an interview.
It’s a brave subject matter to tackle in such a manner; Horgan has stepped away from the cliché – two angry people fighting and throwing bitter blows – and looks intimately at both the highs and lows that come with drawn out, painful breakup. This is what happens after Happily Ever After; when the rushes and glow of love can turn into indifference and contempt. It’s world-weary, but that is the allure of the eight-part series, an insight into something that offers real life perspective as opposed to a Hollywood romance (which ironically, always seem to end in divorce these days).
And Horgan, as usual, has avoided stereotyping the “traditional roles.” It’s Parker that has an affair and wants the marriage to end, yet it’s a relief that she remains hugely likeable. As Francis, she is much like Bradshaw; warm, witty, if occasionally self-centered and daft; Horgan was careful when writing for Parker (anyone but someone as likeable as she couldn’t have pulled it off), but it shows, and from what yours truly has seen, it works.
The series premieres tonight on Sky Atlantic, and we’re expecting great things, so make sure you tune in.