The Ending of ‘Divorce’ is Better Than Its Beginning

Divorce wraps up its freshman season finale tonight and Joey has the season review

The bleak and tangled ending of HBO’s Divorce is oddly satisfying. Even though divorces are messy and complicated, the comedy has kept the edges relatively light throughout its freshman outing. Thanks to its skilled cast and layered tone, Divorce finds its stride and delivers a strong finale to its first season.

In the back end of the episodes, Frances and Robert become more comfortable navigating away from each other. He becomes more ambitious with his business venture, and she finally opens her gallery. She’s been so busy with lawyers and proceedings that the opening comes a bit out of nowhere, but that’s a minor quibble. They begin to settle into a routine, and it allows both characters to loosen up a bit. Divorce began with everyone so bottled up and emotional, but these last few weeks have been better since everyone can breathe in their scenes.

When Divorce initially premiered, it felt like people didn’t know what to make of it. I’ve personally mentioned the mixed tone every time I’ve talked about the show, but it’s actually one of the best things about the series. It slides in and out of comedy and drama, but it never feels broad or not grounded. The chemistry between Sarah Jessica Parker and Thomas Haden Church feels dulled from time spent with one another. Parker can have chemistry with almost anyone, but hers with Church aches and is never absent. Look at Parker any time Church leaves her in a scene. You can see the history of their relationship on her face.

The other actors explore juicier topics and contribute more than just providing commentary on the leads’ lives. Molly Shannon and Tracy Letts get to be lighter in a few scenes as they rekindle the heat in their marriage, and Talia Balsam has a fling with Robert’s lawyer. I want more of her Dallas. Hear that, Sharon Horgan? Give me more Talia Balsam!

Divorce has never been a bad show, but it might have just had the wrong starting off point. I’ve personally always thought the show was enjoyable, and detailing the marriage between Frances and Robert earlier might have led to the show being slow paced and boring. It succeeds because we know who some of these people are, or maybe we are them. Life feels messy and complicated. Comedies shouldn’t be penalized for trying to showcase that.

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