Sharon Horgan's 'Divorce': the dark side of married life

Sarah Jessica Parker has found a new groove in this dark comedy written by Sharon Horgan

Thomas Haden Church as Robert and  Sarah Jessica Parker as Frances in Divorce.

Thomas Haden Church as Robert and Sarah Jessica Parker as Frances in Divorce.

 

How do you reinvent yourself on TV when the whole world knows you as Carrie Bradshaw, journalist, fashionista and seeker after love in Sex and the City? Sarah Jessica Parker has found a nifty way to make her small screen comeback: hook up with Irish writer, actor and comedian Sharon Horgan and come up with something dark, witty, a bit sad and scarily on the nose. Divorce (Tuesday, Sky Atlantic) is the story of Frances (Parker), a wife and mother hitting 50 who realises she no longer loves her husband Robert (Thomas Haden Church), and decides she still has time to save her own life. She wants an amicable split for the sake of the kids; Robert (a drink of water with a moustache) refuses to make it easy for her, and promises to “make your kids hate you”.

Forget everything you knew from Sex and the City – Horgan and Parker are not going for gags and wisecracking observations about relationships - they’re going straight for the dark side of married life and finding even richer comedy veins lurking there. Men squirmed during Sex and the City - with Divorce, we’ll want to short-circuit the TV just so our partner doesn’t have her own epiphany and realise we’re a waste of space.

Frances has her moment of awakening at her friend Diane’s 50th birthday party. When Diane drunkenly tries to shoot her husband Nick, causing him to have a massive coronary, the light goes on in Frances’s head, and while the medics and police are swarming around the house, she grabs her opportunity to drop the D-bomb on Robert. It’s a superb set-piece and showcases Horgan as the master of the party-gone-wrong scenario.

Haden Church is great as the solipsistic Robert, who handles this delicate situation with big baseball mitts. But Parker has really found herself a new groove here - we’ve almost forgotten about Carrie whatshername.

Looking forward to a long, drawn-out and messy breakup.

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