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Sarah Jessica Parker makes television return in Divorce

Sarah Jessica Parker as Frances, Thomas Haden Church as Robert (Credit: Courtesy of HBO).

Sarah Jessica Parker as Frances, Thomas Haden Church as Robert (Credit: Courtesy of HBO).

Sarah Jessica Parker has for many years been the personification of a modern-day Cinderella. Exploring the vagaries of life as a single gal in Sex and the City, SJP was defined as much by the shoes she wore as the men she loved. Portraying the fictionalized Carrie Bradshaw, her Manolo and Manhattan escapades were, for devotees of the HBO show, a match made in heaven.

In the series premier of Divorce, the cable network invited fans of the charismatic actress to begin another romance with Parker as she tried on some stylistically different shoes as Frances, a middle-aged housewife and mom. Lacking sartorial splendor the fashion-icon tread through neighborhoods of new emotional challenges in the 30-minute dram-edy. Used as functional wedges into plot lines of middle-aged muddle, the series premiere moved Frances through the landscape of mid-life wearing decidedly un-sexy snow boots and chunky heels.

Divorce replaces a stiletto’ed broad-squad of Sex and the City with wing-man husband Robert, played by Thomas Haden Church, two middle school-aged kids, played by Sterling Jerins and Charlie Kilgore, as wells as a cohort of sexually repressed pals clinging to middle-class manners in various shades of winter-colored marriages. In the new HBO series Francis lives in a Westchester County bedroom community, a train ride away from the city, her job and a bohemian lover who subliminally feeds her body with guilty pleasures.

Reminiscent of an Amtrak-ed scene in the 2002 film, Unfaithful, Frances contemplates the direction of her marriage reliving blush-inducing satisfactions of sex-capades with her semi-sympathetic, steel-eyed friend tempering the full-speed-ahead impulses of the star. Written by Sharon Horgan and directed by Jesse Peretz, the premiere laid a colorful foundation of plots lines which seem to foreshadow what lies ahead in the next nine episodes. Snow shoveling, Robert axes a robin’s nest outside their tidy craftsman-styled home. Frequently accessorized in shades of green Frances’ wrappings suggest she embodies a naive emergence of spring even as she serves her kids an impromptu take-out bag of Greek food. Is she serving the family a bag filled with myth of a happy self-contained life or tragedy?

Living in a glass house, wine-soaked Diane, played by comedian Molly Shannon, is the moral equivalent of a dirty dancing flash-point as the series kicks off. Self absorbed and reckless she epitomizes the sour grapes of a vapid life. Hedonism her heroine she hears what she cares to, missing the meaning of marriage and comforts of companionship.

Divorce of course represents the end of a fairy tale. In this context it’s also the hashtag to exploring an emotionally challenging story with the hope of sure-footing. Sarah Jessica Parker’s new shoes are sure to be scuffed hiking unfamiliar terrain in the series of relatable matrimonial missteps. Fans of Sex in the City may want to try the new series on for size, with SJP’s talents Divorce is likely to tell imaginative tales of intimacy with modern-day meaningfulness written into the heart and ‘sole’ of the message.

Divorce airs on HBO at 10 p.m. and is also available on HBO NOW, HBO GO, and HBO on Demand.




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