I love Sex and The City. I may not be the biggest fan out there, but I’ve definitely seen every single episode, many more than once. So, when I heard about Sarah Jessica Parker’s newest HBO show, Divorce, I was pretty excited to watch.
I was into the first episode, fine with the second, and done by the third. Something about it, the plot, the characters, the themes, wasn’t doing it for me. It wasn’t just that Parker subbed out her Blahniks for a slightly more sensible footwear option, or that her glamorous Manhattan life was now playing out in a Westchester suburb; Divorce was unpleasant to watch, which was perhaps the show’s greatest departure from SATC.
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The show’s lukewarm reception led me to believe that most people, like me, gave up on Divorce early on. But during a weekly check-in with my parents, they threw me a curveball: Not only do they watch they show together (aw!), they both love it. “Do millennials watch this show?” my dad asked. When I told him no, he wasn’t surprised: “It’s for boomers and Gen X.”
My parents explained that reason Divorce didn’t grab me is because it’s not for me. Even though the show’s themes didn’t speak to me, I now wanted to know why they resonated with my parents. After all, wouldn’t a show about two unhappily married people navigating the pitfalls of divorce be kind of a buzzkill to watch?
My parents had a sunnier outlook: “We like SJP, plus we know so many people getting divorced we thought it would be interesting and entertaining to watch the show,” my mom said. “We were hoping to see a good, realistic dramatization of divorce, and so far the show has delivered.” And what about the show had them coming back episode after episode? “Great acting, great story line, great characters,” they said. Plus they love Molly Shannon’s “hot mess of a character.” (Truth be told, Shannon’s character was my favorite part of the show before I gave up.)
My father reserved his searing criticism for Parker’s onscreen husband, Robert, played by Thomas Haden Church: “He’s kind of a loser, not sure how he got her in the first place, but you can’t blame him for kicking her out.” Something else my parents can’t understand is Frances’s bad taste in men: “Her husband is a dork and her lover was even worse.” (My parents don’t mince words.)
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The plotpoints I deemed as depressing and unappealing ended up being what my parents liked most about the show. “The characters are all about our age, so its fun to watch them deal with the same things we deal with,” my mom said. “Raising kids, managing money, nurturing adult friendships.” When I asked if they plan on watching season two, the answer was also straight forward: “Absolutely.”