I’ve always been one to look to television shows for life advice. Little House on the Prairie shaped my childhood. I was a little precocious, believe it or not, and Laura Ingalls was something of a spirit animal. She was feisty and smart, always up for adventure.
Another show which came along at the right time was Mad About You, an American sitcom starring Helen Hunt and Paul Raiser about a young married couple in those pre-child still mad about you days. I read the other day there’s a chance of a reboot, the series ended in 1999 just as they had their first child, Mabel, and now Mabel is a 17-year-old off to college. The right time again in a few regards at least.
While I loved Sex and the City, by the time it aired in 1998 (20 years ago this month) I was well past my carefree single days, and my wardrobe was never that flash, so it missed its mark a little. I mean, I wanted to be Carrie, living the life she did and only having to write that one insipid little column a week for the New York Star. I couldn’t help but wonder …
But now I’m back living my carefree single days - ha - and find I’m drawn to shows about divorce.
Here’s my pick and why I love them and hate them at the same time. A little like marriage.
Ironically starring Carrie Bradshaw, well Sarah Jessica Parker at least. Frances has some similarities to Carrie, a little neurotic, somehow making a living from running a small art gallery, good wardrobe. She has an affair, her husband Robert, Thomas Haden Church, isn’t too happy and they divorce.
There are a few things I love about this show. Firstly it’s the most realistic of the three I’m analysing here. There’s an undercurrent of real loneliness and despair, from how they deal with their teenage children, to the anger, to the heartache to the raised middle fingers as they pass each other in the hall.
But there’s also a sense of hope. Frances has fantastic girlfriends, they care about the kids, Frances and Robert are learning to work together, separately, and both have a few fun adventures.
There isn’t much I don’t like about Divorce apart from the fact it is a little close to home.
Watch it on Foxtel via Showcase. Two seasons ready to go.
Girlfriends Guide to Divorce
Abby McCarthy (played by Lisa Edelstein) is a self-help author who’s written a book called The Girlfriend’s Guide to Getting Your Groove Back: How to love your husband and your family (based on a real-life series written by Vicki Iovine). Trouble is her husband is having an affair with a 20-something actress and she too isn’t wholly invested in the marriage. At her press conference for the new book in series one, episode one, she says something along the lines of “If he would just die it would be so much easier” and her world falls apart.
Or does it?
This show is fun, and sexy, and built around a core group of beautiful successful women. It addresses issues applicable to the situation, from how to deal with co-parenting to how a 40-something-year-old woman finds love again, or even indeed just a hook-up if that’s what she’s after.
What I hate about this show is how glamorous and fun it makes divorce look. There’s a scene where Abby goes to pitch a new column to a magazine about how divorce can be fun (1000 words twice a week for a huge salary - hello management, are you interested?) and a divorced colleague turns on her. Divorce is not fun. No matter how many young men and high heels you throw at it.
Four seasons ready to go on Fox 8, via cocktail
Here, recently separated 40-something Liza Miller has to lie about her age to find a job. Suddenly she’s 26 with a daughter about to head off to college and new friends and work colleagues who all believe she’s a millennial.
I love it. I hate it. Again.
I hate it because Sutton Foster looks 26 (she’s actually 43). Life would be so much easier as a divorced woman if you looked 26. I hate it because a woman should not have to lie about her age to get a job, or be penalised because she took 15 years off to raise a child. I hate it because the 40-something woman who is not lying, Diana Trout, is painted as being a characterture of a desperate high-maintenance workaholic.
But mainly I love it. It’s created by Darren Star who created by SATC and there’s the same sense of optimism among all the flawed characters. It’s a coming of age story that’s blurred and flawed. A little like life post divorce.
On Stan now.