There are two kinds of people in this world: Those who have experienced the post-breakup insanity phase, and those who are liars. This week on “Divorce,” our soon-to-be divorcees act on the worst of their impulses — and it turns out it’s just as gut-wrenchingly embarrassing to watch someone else do it as it is to do it yourself.
That Frances (Sarah Jessica Parker) and Robert (Thomas Hayden Church) are beyond the point of reconciliation is clear, so they both attempt to move on with their lives — Frances by snagging her dream job at Sotheby’s in a way that would make Dick Cheney proud, and Robert by throwing himself into parenting his kids.
And for a moment, the future seems bright. Frances gets the job — and a serious pay boost to match — and Robert seems genuinely content with his kids and a church group he’s been attending. And then, as things are wont to do when they start looking good, it all goes off the rails
Frances and Robert are both struggling with the same thing: Something has broken, and they both feel the need to fix it. The relationship can’t be saved, so they decide to fix themselves. For Frances, that means throwing out all of Robert’s stuff — including his sexy folder of fully-clothed photographs of Julia Roberts — and turning his old office into her new reading room. She puts herself up for her dream job after she’s hired to field candidates for the position, and then she actually gets it. But when she realizes she’ll have to split the salary with her soon-to-be ex she loses the plot, as one does in the post-breakup insanity phase.
Here’s what she doesn’t do: Weigh the actual cost-benefit analysis. She and Robert are deeply in debt; as the current sole breadwinner she’ll be paying Robert out anyway; and the new position means more money for her and a day job she actually enjoys. A rational person would take the damn job and figure out the divorce settlement later. Instead, she shoots herself in the foot to spite her arm, with an ill-conceived plan that would require her new boss to become an accessory in a scheme to hide her finances from Robert. Bossman’s not a fan, if you can believe it, and Frances realizes immediately she’s made a mistake from which she cannot recover. She tries to save face by withdrawing herself from the position which she clearly isn’t going to get, and ends up losing the account to another recruiting company, a double-fuckup that’s bound to come back to haunt her later in the season.
Meanwhile, across town, Robert is subtly engaging in his own post-breakup insanity phase. Again, on the surface, things look great — he’s taking the kids to church, spending quality time with them at the archery range; he buys his son a snake, a wonderful bribe that also serves to punish his soon-to-be ex… And then he injects himself with some bootleg testosterone and corners his wife’s boyfriend with a gun in a deeply unsettling scene that just goes to show that 30-minute shows do not a comedy make.
There are some darkly funny scenes: Diane gives Nick a sexy sponge bath, which he finds deeply maternal, prompting him to bring up kids; she calmly deflects the discussion by explaining “I just grabbed you by the dick, that’s not the kind of thing you do to a baby.” Dallas watches in disgusted silence as her son’s girlfriend parades around the house in his boxers. “Slut rubbing her scent on everything,” she hisses. “Drinking water because she’s so thirsty from the good fucking.” (Give Talia Balsam more screentime!)
As with every breakup, these crazy kids will eventually find their footing. And as with every breakup, they’ll learn their lesson and regain their sanity—until the next breakup.
“Divorce” airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on HBO; there are two episodes remaining in the season, and a Season 2 has been commissioned.