Sex and the City star Sarah Jessica Parker’s new HBO comedy Divorce is more like No Sex and the Suburbs. Her character Frances is stuck in a loveless marriage… and she’ll need more than a new pair of shoes and a Cosmo to feel better about it.
In Sunday’s series premiere, Frances is increasingly irritated with her husband, Robert (Thomas Haden Church); she scowls at him while he hums along with Coldplay in the car, then finally shuts it off. They’re headed to a birthday party for their friend Diane (SNL alum Molly Shannon), and her marriage isn’t in any better shape. When they arrive, Diane’s husband Nick (Homeland‘s Tracy Letts) greets them by saying, “I’d offer you some wine, but Diane’s already sucked most of it up.”
Diane is a bit of a party girl, sloppily pouring tequila and cackling loudly at the dinner table. She complains to Frances about Nick’s middle-aged weight gain: “He did it on purpose.” And later on, when she dirty-dances with another man, Nick hauls her away to the bedroom for a nasty argument. Then things get crazy: She pulls a gun on him (!) and fires a shot that nearly hits Robert. The scare is enough to give Nick a heart attack, and he’s carried away by paramedics while Diane is placed in handcuffs. You know, typical marriage stuff.
The ugly scene forces Frances to take a hard look at her own marriage. Talking with Robert, she remembers a recent Christmas that the two of them spent apart: “It was the best Christmas I have had in years.” (Ouch.) She tells Robert she doesn’t love him anymore, and she wants a divorce. And Robert’s reaction? He promptly throws up.
The next day, Frances’ divorced friend Dallas (Mad Men‘s Talia Balsam) warns her not to get too excited about being single again: “If you think you’re going to find something better out there, you’re going to be disappointed.” But Frances already thinks she has something better: her art-professor lover Julian, played by Jemaine Clement from Flight of the Conchords. (He makes his own granola!) We see the two share an afternoon tryst, but he’s not really ready for a commitment. When Frances tells him she loves him, he responds with, “Wanna get a pizza?”
In fact, she kind of scares Julian off by telling him she’s getting a divorce. So when she comes home to find Robert sulking in the dark, she softens her stance a bit. They come to a mutual understanding and agree to start fresh. (She still doesn’t like his mustache, for the record.) That fresh start doesn’t last long, though. The next morning, when Frances is out walking their kids to the school bus, she comes back to find the door locked. It’s no mistake: Robert has locked her out.
She asks him through the window to let her in, but he refuses. He tells her he found a mysterious number on her phone and dialed it — and it was Julian. He knows she’s cheating on him, and he wants her out of the house. The divorce is back on, and now Robert has the upper hand, he says: “You’re Jesse James, and I’m Sandra Bullock.” He vows to make this divorce as long and contentious as possible… and to make their kids hate her. Looks like this War of the Roses is just getting started.
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