After a few years of ending shows and lackluster premieres, HBO is dropping two brand new series this month. One is the glitzy and expensive sci fi drama Westworld and the other is a brand new comedy about a relationship falling apart, aptly titled Divorce. The half-hour comedy stars Sarah Jessica Parker and Thomas Haden Church as two individuals who are just beginning to hate one another. Is Divorce watchable? Very. Is it funny? Hardly.
From its first few minutes, Sharon Horgan's brand new comedy introduces us to a world of miserable people, of friends who aren't really supportive and of couples whose relationships are falling apart. Sarah Jessica Parker's Frances and Thomas Haden Church's Robert are at the center of this story, playing a couple who is just coming to the realization that they are bored and that maybe they don't really like one another all that much. They aren't the only unhappy people in Divorce. Dallas (Talia Balsam) is a recent divorcee, and her main purpose is to relate that life after divorce isn't exactly full of freedom. Frances' other friend, Diane (Molly Shannon), is also in an unhappy marriage and it's an action from Diane that really sets Divorce on its course.
I've said already that Divorce is more watchable than it is funny, but this doesn't mean that every single joke is lame in the comedy. A recurring gag about who will take over the care of one rather large and fluffy dog had me smiling. And the dark humor involved in a few of the show's biggest scenes is certainly unexpected and even enjoyable. It's just that often Divorce feels more like a serious drama with a few comedic moments than it feels like a comedy with a few serious ones. This doesn't lend itself to the half-hour format and it may not be the type of show that everyone who thought they were signing up for a comedy gets excited for.
Through the first few episodes that HBO made available, Frances and Robert do have a relationship that we want to know more about. Sarah Jessica Parker and Thomas Haden Church play off one another like two people who know each other very well. Their verbal rapport is great, even when their words are positively hateful toward one another. That tone only begins to change a little bit as the series wears on.
Many people out there can relate to monotony in their home lives. Many viewers can relate to how relationships change and how divorce really happens when the people involved in a relationship start making selfish decisions. Many viewers will totally get the direction the more dramatic aspects of Divorce's storyline take. But many of those aspects are at the worst, positively grim, and at the best, completely exhausting. Although there are plenty of absurd situations that might inspire a smile, I don't know if this one will be sunny enough to last over the long haul.
You can test Divorce out for yourself when the new series premieres on Sunday night at 10 p.m. ET, following the second episode of Westworld. HBO is also using its fall schedule to launch new comedy Insecure, starring Issa Rae at 10:30 p.m. ET. To find out what else is still premiering this fall, take a look at our fall TV premiere schedule.