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Season 3 Brings on the Fallout of 'Divorce'
July 1, 2019  | By David Hinckley

For those who might see the termination of a marriage as a means of making life less uncomfortable and stressful for all concerned, HBO’s Divorce continues to argue that it doesn’t necessarily work out that way. 

The third season of Divorce, which kicks off Monday at 10 p.m. ET, has Frances Dufresne (Sarah Jessica Parker, top) and her ex-husband Robert (Thomas Haden Church, top) successfully settled into their uncoupled lives.

Since that whole messy, protracted and more than occasionally amusing divorce process was the original focal point of the show, creator Sharon Horgan has redirected her focus to the suggestion that two people whose marriage didn’t work will also likely find their post-marriage lives won’t be perfectly smooth, either. 

The six-episode third season still relies extensively on the fallout from the separation and divorce. Still, the show now focuses on the untidy and, yes, sometimes amusing lives of two neurotic middle-aged people who are, borrowing the classic phrase of the late Carrie Fisher from When Harry Met Sally, “out there” again. 

Middle-aged people looking for their next chapter isn’t quite as fresh or unique a concept as the unpolished nuts and bolts of divorce. But Horgan has her own sharp view of middle-age relationships, most prominently on display in the late irresistible series Catastrophe, so Frances and Robert don’t come off as just two more forty-somethings seeking one last shot. 

Okay, there’s some of that. At the very least, though, Horgan never gets sentimental. Both Frances and Robert plow forward toward whatever lies ahead and sometimes smash into it at a brisk pace. 

On the surface, Frances has a harder time than Robert, which may simply reflect the fact that women often do. 

When the divorce hit, she was moving toward her lifelong dream of opening her own gallery in her affluent suburb of Hastings-on-Hudson. That dream seemed to be coming true until a fire, whose consequences turn out to be as debilitating as, well, the consequences of the divorce. 

Now Frances must hunt for a job, a depressing pursuit leavened for viewers by Horgan’s spot-on portrayal of interviewers. Hint: It’s not always flattering.  

Frances also gets to ruminate on her new downsized life by bouncing it off her best friends Diane (Molly Shannon) and Dallas (Talia Balsam). Their bonding scenes are as close as Divorce comes to evoking Parker’s Carrie from back in Sex and the City, and even those scenes underscore how Parker has taken a sharply different turn this time. 

Diane, who’s wound pretty tight to begin with, has been wound tighter by the fact her husband Nick (Tracy Letts) is now in prison. Letts plays Nick for clueless laughs, at least on the outside. Diane is thinking more along the lines of the show’s title.

Robert, meanwhile, seems to have moved on. He met a measurably younger woman, Jackie Giannopolis (Becki Newton), and things are moving ahead. If you think that makes Robert 100% happy, you have not been paying attention to Horgan 101. 

Robert’s life does, however, make Frances more anxious about her own. And so it continues. Perhaps if there’s a season 4, Divorce could probably be renamed Dominoes.

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