Picking Up Where Sarah Jessica Parker Left Off: HBO’s Divorce

Thirteen years ago, we last saw Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie Bradshaw in the arms of Mr. Big in HBO’s Sex and the City. Come 2008, with the release of the Sex and the City movie, Mr. Big and Carrie would solidify their love at the courthouse, marking the beginning of their journey as a hopeful married couple.

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This year, Parker has taken on a new role as Frances in HBO’s new series Divorce. The dark comedy, which showcases the slow, vengeful, and unraveling relationship between Frances and her soon-to-be ex-husband, Robert, tells the story of someone much different than the career-focused, hopeless romantic Carrie Bradshaw. Unfulfilled and unenthused, Frances offers an imaginative glimpse of Bradshaw post-fifteen years of marriage.

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Having seen every episode of Sex and the City and having personally witnessed a divorce all too similar to Frances’s, I can’t help but feel the need to find a connection between the two HBO hits. In many ways, Parker’s presence alone pulls the two shows together—Divorce oddly picking up where Carrie Bradshaw had left off years ago. In a twisted, yet honestly realistic, way, the two act as one; shedding light on very human and familiar themes like age, family, fulfillment, and sex. In her article for Variety, Sonia Saraiya notes this unique continuity between the two shows, specifically addressing how Divorce outlines the inner-dysfunction of modern marriages. While Saraiya argues that Divorce is packed with comedy missteps, I’d argue that the writing is honest and that the seemingly sporadic humor functions as a tool to take the edge off a difficult subject.

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Most significantly, I believe that it is Parker’s method of acting which makes way for this narrative transition. Carrie’s identifiable rationality, generosity, accidental ranting, and frightened squealing remain a crucial part of Frances’s character. Maybe, then, we may understand this bizarre continuity as an inevitable consequence of an actress’s innate acting habits. Perhaps, Parker is sharing a larger, personal story with each character she plays, whether she knows it or not.

  • Lydia Geisel
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3 Responses to Picking Up Where Sarah Jessica Parker Left Off: HBO’s Divorce

  1. mediaphiles says:

    As a fan of Sex in the City, it at first upset me that Sarah Jessica Parker was doing the show Divorce due to all of the points mentioned in your post. I couldn’t help but connect my bubbly, hopeless romantic Bradshaw to the woman in Divorce.

  2. mediaphiles says:

    That’s very interesting that you point out that connection. Many times when I see an actor play a certain role it is hard to accept them in another role on a T.V. show or Movie. Often times they do play a similar role time and time again.When they aren’t planning a role you are used to seeing them in or in a role you see fitting at times its hard to be as engaged. Never seen Sex in the City or Divorce but i’ll be on the look out to try to connect shows with the same actors.
    -Dez Wortham

  3. marymdalton says:

    Excellent post! I, too, have been taken with this new series (though I agree Sex and the City is entertaining, I have issues with that show we can discuss another time). The last episode of this first season left me with my mouth hanging open. It was sort of like rubbernecking at the scene of an accident — horrifying but something keeps you from looking away. (Also, sorry you experienced anything remotely like that in life…)

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