Divorce Presents a New Era for Sarah Jessica Parker on HBO

She's back on HBO, but this isn't Sex and the City

By Chris Harnick Oct 07, 2016 3:00 PMTags
Divorce, Sarah Jessica ParkerHBO

Carrie Bradshaw she ain't. In Divorce, Sarah Jessica Parker's new HBO comedy (dramedy?) from Sharon Horgan, Parker expertly sheds her previous HBO image as a woman on the verge of, well, a divorce. It's best you go into the new series without thinking of the cosmo-filled Sex and the City days of yore.

"I don't think that we actually talked a lot about trying to make her different. I think this story is different. I was always interested in the story of marriage," Parker told press at the 2016 Summer TCA Press Tour about the differences between her two HBO characters. "That's how this sort of all started. And by virtue of just that interest alone, it was automatically different. I think the things that—the only time that we really were cognizant of distinction—and feel free to correct me    was when we started talking really about the wardrobe and understanding that there was, you know, an obvious connection between, like, a skeleton and clothing.

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"But really I think Frances was so much her own person from the moment I read the pilot. She was so distinct from not only Carrie, but any other character I have ever played, somebody who had so—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. And I feel like there were just sort of like tropes, as they say, that we were mindful of, but nothing to do in the storytelling," Parker said.


Parker's Frances is a mother of two who seems to snap after a shocking event at a friend's party. She announces she wants a divorce, but isn't quite ready for what happens next. Thomas Haden Church, Molly Shannon, Talia Balsam, Tracy Letts, Sterling Jerins and Charlie Kilgore also star. And just a warning: You will not be prepared for how great Saturday Night Live veteran Shannon is as Diane, Frances' friend whose 50th birthday celebration sets off many key events in the pilot episode.

In terms of anything being off limits for Parker and her character, the actress said she would "like to do interesting, challenging, smart ideas in storytelling."

"I would like to have great words and great actors.  And I think if we're—I don't know the idea of, like, purposefully being, you know, edgy.  I just want to play an interesting role," she said. "I think if I'm with wanting to be one thing and backing into that, that's probably no good for anybody."

Divorce premieres Sunday, Oct. 9 at 10 p.m. on HBO.