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The ups and downs of 'Divorce' premiere on HBO

Love and marriage are common themes explored in movies, television programming and books. Divorce is a far less common theme and is often only alluded to in a cursory manner. Usually when we meet characters who have been affected by divorce, they have either already finalized their divorces and are actively single or have already remarried. Rarely does the public ever get a chance to see the nitty-gritty struggles that individuals face when they are in the throes of the divorce process itself.

This is why HBO's new show "Divorce" is such a refreshing programming choice. Although every divorce is unique in its emotional, physical and financial impacts, many of the challenges that divorcing couples tend to weather are similar. As a result, millions of Americans will almost certainly relate to the "Divorce" characters portrayed by Sarah Jessica Parker and Thomas Haden Church.

The premise

Parker's character is a working woman with two teenage children. She and her husband seem to have a lovely home and plenty of friends. But something is missing in their marriage. The pilot opens with the two spouses bickering about bathroom etiquette. Parker makes a rude gesture behind Church's back at the end of that disagreement.

Not all marriages end simply because one or both spouses have outgrown one another. Marriages end due to abuse, infidelity, dishonesty and a host of other reasons. But in nearly all cases, marriage has proven to be an unhealthier option than divorce for at least one spouse. How that transition from an unhealthy married life to healthy single lives plays out is what makes each divorce unique. "Divorce" promises to illustrate both the wider and specific journeys of one interesting couple. And because the show is on HBO, the aspects of the process that are especially raw will likely not be glossed over.

The impact

It is never easy to predict just how an audience will receive a new project. But if "Divorce" is received even marginally as well as Parker's last major project ("Sex in the City") it has the potential to become a cultural phenomenon. At very least, it is likely to touch the lives of numerous individuals who are weathering or have weathered the process of ending a marriage.

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Commandments of Family Law

  1. The only truth your children need to know is that you both love them unconditionally, and that this isn't their fault.
  2. Take the high road — everyone wins when you do what's best for your kids.
  3. Negotiate but don't capitulate — if you are being pushed toward something detrimental for your children, stand your ground.
  4. You can only control yourself and how you respond. Don't engage.
  5. Do set up rules and responsibilities. Kids feel better when routine is continued.
  6. You are still their parent — don't be afraid to be one.
  7. Disneyland is in California, not in your home. Don't set up unreasonable expectations.
  8. It is not their job to take care of you. Repeat that to them. Often.
  9. Yelling is for sports — not court. Good lawyers strongly advocate without being disrespectful to opposing parties.
  10. Fair is a place you go to get cheese curds. Aside from that, nothing in life is fair.

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