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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Divorce shows that growing up never really ends

Photos: Craig Blankenhorn/HBO
Photos: Craig Blankenhorn/HBO
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Parenting teens has to be hard enough when you’re still married, but likely kicks up to an exponentially difficult level when you’re divorced. As this Divorce episode indicates, Frances and Robert have to deal with Tom’s brand-new sex life while coming to terms with their own fledgling relationships. After ignoring him for a while, Frances is now off having fun with Andrew, while Robert and Jackie move from the fun stage to the real stage in their relationship, heightened by the fact that Tom is having sex with Jackie’s daughter Ella. As Robert succinctly and hilariously puts it, it’s a real shitbasket.


The way that the parents involved deal with this development may have a lot to do with how things will eventually play out for them in the end. Robert and Jackie, as much as they like each other, are clearly on opposite sides of the fence, even indicated by their guacamole order (Jackie wants the more adventurous “spicy,” while Robert orders the more cautious “mild,” then quickly caves). Jackie doesn’t consider Tom and Ella having sex a big deal, while Robert certainly does. But Robert and also-concerned Frances are so in-tune that they work things out before their post-marriage counselor can even offer one word of advice.


Also in tune: Frances and Sylvia, much to the dismay of feeling-left-out Diane. Honestly, the little country club subplot really didn’t land as well as the main theme of Robert and Frances and their love lives. And Dallas repeatedly pointing out that her membership was just for her recalls a similar scene in Sex And The City many moons ago, when Miranda bought her first condo. At least Dallas’ questioning may have a happy ending though, as her interviewer appeared to have a personal stake in the questions. But I just can’t figure out her reasoning for joining the club in the first place; it seems like an odd setting.

The jealousy theme also seems to be an strange afterthought, with Diane petulant about Sylvia and Frances’ closeness, but thrilled when Nick is childishly jealous after finding her with the tennis pro at the club later. Maybe it’s mean to indicate some tenseness on Robert’s side? He was polite (and funny) upon meeting Andrew, possibly masking a hint of aggression over catching his ex in a compromising position. And after all, he (eventually) told Frances about Jackie; couldn’t his ex have also mentioned that she was seeing someone?


All of that pales next to Lila’s reaction after catching her mom and Andrew on the trampoline, though: Her passive-aggressive rolling up the window at Francis is the funniest I’ve found her, ever. Frances’ embarrassment is palpable, even as she can’t help but caution Lila about her seat belt. For Frances and Robert, that’s the unholy hell of it: They still have to remind their kids about tying their shoes and forgetting their retainer, even as those same kids are preparing to leave the nest (Dallas’ son already has his exit date) and be on their own regardless. It’s especially hard to handle as you’re figuring out your own relationships: Frances decides that Andrew is finally dinner-date-worthy, and Robert and Jackie come together after their first big fight. But the original couple is not only showing the kids some considerable maturity in the post-marriage dealings with each other, they’re also indicating that they don’t have all the answers as they also figure out some of this stuff. Once Tom and Lila get past their mortification, they might see that as a valuable lesson themselves.

Stray observations

  • Barbie Ferreira, who plays Ella, is actually a Wilhelmina “curve” model who refuses to be photoshopped.
  • You guys, if Lila wants purple hair, just have her do Kool-Aid or something on the tips. Did it with my daughter, who’s younger than Lila, and it worked out great.
  • Respect to Sarah Jessica Parker for running like that in heels.
  • “Just to reiterate, man: What the fuck?”
  • I know I’ve said that Frances’ fashion choices sometimes startle, but I loved Dallas’ blue top and striped skirt that she wore to the club. No wonder the guy on the board was smitten.
  • This week in ’70s music: Billy Swan’s “I Can Help” was certainly appropriate for hanging. Tommy James’ biggest solo hit, “Draggin’ The Line” ends the episode. And to no one’s surprise, Frances’ karaoke song is “Seasons In The Sun.”
  • Some of the punchlines landed a little clumsily, like “Are we all going kung fu fighting?” and Diane mistaking “juice” for “Jews” at the club.
  • Next week: We finally see a show opening at Frances’ gallery.

Gwen Ihnat is the Editorial Coordinator for The A.V. Club.

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