Couples making a pilgrimage through low places and returning home with a strengthened relationship is a staple of the romantic comedy genre. But HBO’s Divorce appears to be turning the genre on its head, mining jokes–and even some sentimentality—from a couple that is decidedly not getting back together.
The trailer sets up Sarah Jessica Parker as Frances, a wife who wants to find happiness in a new, single, chapter in her life, Thomas Hayden Church plays Robert, the unsuspecting husband who doesn’t appreciate having a monkey wrench thrown into the life he’s built. “As lousy as marriage is; the divorce is going to be much worse,” a friend advises him before explaining just how worse. “You are going to get cock-fucked on this, Robert.” That scorched-earth prognosis probably explains why Frances is struggling to forge a respectful parting of ways, but Robert is shoring up his defenses. Specifically, the future ex-husband is lawyering up with Dean Winters, gleefully channeling his “Mayhem” character from the Allstate ads as a cutthroat divorce attorney.
As the rest of Divorce’s trailer unfolds, Frances struggles to understand how she, Robert, her children, and the entire family will exist after the marriage sinks. Robert seems content simply with making his wife as miserable as possible, but divorce is rarely that simple, especially on HBO. And the trailer ends in a more complex emotional space, with Frances and Robert sharing intimate, honest moments that border on tenderness. Are these softer scenes culled from the pilot, documenting the lead up to Frances’ opening declaration? Or are they part of a schmaltzy road to reconciliation in season two?
The series title suggests it shouldn’t be the latter, but we’ll find out when HBO premieres Divorce on October 9.