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Sarah Jessica Parker Says Her HBO 'Divorce' Character is the Anti-Carrie
July 31, 2016  | By David Hinckley

BEVERLY HILLS -- In the first episode of HBO’s new comedy Divorce, Sarah Jessica Parker’s Frances tells her best girlfriend how good the sex has been with her illicit boyfriend.

Fans of Sex and The City, Parker’s last HBO series, might want to mark that moment, because that naughty little confidence is as close as Frances gets to Carrie Bradshaw.

"From the moment I read the pilot, I thought Frances was her own person," Parker told TV critics in Beverly Hills Saturday. "She was so distinct from not only Carrie, but any other character I have ever played."

In Divorce, which premieres Oct. 9 at 10 p.m. ET, Frances is a suburban wife and mother who realizes she has fallen out of love with her husband Robert (Thomas Haden Church, top, with Parker).

She launches the affair, and then tells Robert she wants a divorce. She tells him she doesn’t love him any more. She tells her friends she simply finds nothing interesting about him. She wants to break free and live her life, she explains, while she still cares about it.

Not something Carrie would ever have said.

Frances finds, however, that a clean, easy divorce is about as likely as disengaging the peanut butter from the jelly in your 8-year-old’s sandwich.

For starters, she and Robert have two children, Lila (Sterling Jerins) and Tom (Charlie Kilgore, right, with Jerins and Parker), who were in full adolescent sullen mode even before it became clear Mom and Dad were falling apart.

"The reason that I was so interested in this landscape," Parker said, "is because there’s so much to say about this period in a life, this attempt at divorce.

"There are things that are hilarious and devastating and disappointing, and people make bad choices and listen to bad counsel. They’re their own bad counsel.

"People are parasites on divorce. People live off it. They relish it. Friendships shift and change. Children are hurt, ruined. People behave in ways that are surprising and awful to themselves."

While divorce is not an unknown topic on television, Parker said it has rarely been treated with this show’s blend of seriousness and humor, which in turn reflect the impact it would have on "a real family like this."

A family whose world has no intersections with the world of Carrie Bradshaw.

"I don’t think we talked a lot about trying to make Frances different [from Carrie]," said Parker. "I was interested in the story of marriage, and by virtue of just that interest alone, the story was automatically different.

"Frances was so weary in ways that I had not seen or had a chance to play, and used language in a way I hadn’t ever, and had a relationship with a man and children in a way I’d never had a chance to do."

Parker’s divorce from Carrie extends to the look and ambience of the show, she says, and even – gasp – what she wears.

"I really wanted the look of cinema in the ’70s," she said. "And that aesthetic, whether it was production design or costume design or the stock of film and music.

"Pretty much everything Frances wears is used, whether it’s from Etsy Vintage or thrift shops along the Northeast Corridor.

"She has an aesthetic that will be revealed more during the season, but fashion doesn’t dictate. She has to dress. For the most part, it’s required by law that when you walk into your place of work, to be dressed. So everything is utilitarian.

"And I think you see it in everything, in Thomas’ character, in our children’s clothing. The family is sort of isolated in a period without it being a period piece."

Mañana to you, Manolo.

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