TV review: Divorce season 3 offers a thoughtful critique of marriage
That’s the question dealing with Frances (Sarah Jessica Parker) and Robert Dufresne (Thomas Haden Church) at each flip in season three of Divorce. Now that the nicely-to-do Westchester County couple has moved directly to other romantic partners, the query keeps popping up. The marriage didn’t work the first time, but they feel the urge to commit once more seriously.
Created by Sharon Horgan (Catastrophe), Divorce debuted quickly after Donald Trump’s victory in 2016, its caustic satire happily plugging into the mood of anger among center-class white men. After a bleak season finale, the show back years later without Horgan in the author’s room and a new showrunner. The tone was a lot lighter – no longer unreasonable, given the Dufresnes had officially broken up – but it felt unearned.
Season 3, the shortest but at six episodes, also doesn’t have season one’s nasty chew. However, it shifts a number of the display’s middle topics around to wrap up the tale and offer a thoughtful critique of marriage as a conservative organization. And it frequently succeeds, no matter some clunky and rushed plotting.
The story choices up with Robert engaged to Jackie (Becki Newton), who’s pregnant and put on mattress relaxation because of complications. He’s balking on the idea of settling down and turning into a dad once more past due in lifestyles. He’s also educating his teen daughter’s basketball team and rankles a fellow teacher (Dominic Fumusa) who disagrees with Robert’s ethical and empowering training ethos.
Meanwhile, Frances has moved to New York City, and her gallery has burned down, leaving her with a tiny insurance payout and uncertain how to continue career-clever. She takes a job with a nitpicky older brother-sister duo who runs a city birding corporation, giving her sufficient financial balance to concentrate on her relationships, inclusive of a brand new man Henry (James Lesure) she is reluctant to call her boyfriend.
Enmeshed in new romances, Robert and Frances are both wondering whether they need to settle all over again. Divorce has usually had a subtheme about running for passion versus operating for necessity, and this season, it nicely collides with the principal plot. Does Frances need to get serious with Henry, regardless of crimson flags, because she lacks job protection? Robert gradually realizes his sense of ethical correctness isn’t always being rewarded. Is he speeding into a lifestyle with Jackie as it seems cozy?
Season 3 largely avoids unpacking these questions didactically; alternatively, the use of comedian set-united states that sometimes border on a screwball to underscore the point that the stress to accomplice up hues predominant existence picks. So the true tension between Robert and Frances in season three isn’t will they reconnect romantically; they will think about the temptation to settle – with every person – duration.
Headed this season using showrunner Liz Tuccillo, Divorce is still full of quippy one-liners and goes a bit similarly into all-out comedy. This season Frances’s BFFs Dallas (Talia Balsam) and Diane (Molly Shannon) face workplace crises, which might also be forcing them to reconsider what they need out of lifestyles.
Diane takes an activity in an upscale branch store now that her husband Nick (Tracy Letts) is at the back of bars for perpetrating a Bernie Madoff-like Ponzi scheme. However, the apparent privileged girl-out-of-water schtick is saved by way of sharp writing and Shannon’s potential to teeter hilariously on a precipice between self-ownership and self-doubt.
In the meantime, Balsam’s Dallas is getting known as out via a litigious patient for no longer listening, and the writer’s room is going all-in developing with ridiculously egregious methods a therapist ought to ignore a purchaser.
Amy Sedaris also returns as Robert’s sister, essentially gambling a version of her insult-comedian personality, hurling positioned-down after positioned-down at Frances, which might be riffing on Parker’s purple-carpet queen photo (“Get over it, Farrah!”). Her scenes enhance the problem of the cost of emotional labor, something Robert can’t hold close. His misogyny becomes placed on a back-burner after season one, and it’s too terrible the display handiest explores it in-jokey and superficial methods in seasons and 3.
Parker is a talented cringe-comedy actor but best receives a handful of moments to shine, along with a clever set-up that requires Frances to creep around to meet a lover like a youngster breaking curfew. She is also saddled with clunky and redundant speechifying around privilege and paintings. And although a scene requiring her to sing empowerment music is supposed to be satirical, it doesn’t quite land given that the show’s tone regularly feels as earnest as Frances’s intentions.
Perhaps due to the season’s brief period, the subplot with Henry also looks like a missed opportunity to interrogate her motivations for wanting to partner up once more. Still, Divorce has sufficient appeal and wit to preserve things exciting. Ultimately, the series lightly shows that although we get divorced, some relationships stay wedded to a much broader monetary order.