TV Review: Divorce doesn’t get as nasty as it should

HBO’s Divorce begins with a 50th birthday party gone bad. The fete is being thrown for Diane, a wine-guzzling Westchester resident played by Molly Shannon. That Shannon was once known for proudly declaring “I’m 50” as Sally O’Malley on Saturday Night Live adds a little bit of meta-textual humor to the scenario. But, unlike Sally, Diane is not proud of her age. This is a gathering filled with middle-age ennui that turns volatile, and the raucous events inspire the protagonist, Diane’s friend Frances (Sarah Jessica Parker), to tell her husband, Robert (Thomas Haden Church), that she wants a divorce, setting the plot in motion. The laugh-out-loud viciousness of the opening, which involves both a gun and vomit, is clearly the work of series’ creator Sharon Horgan, who also co-writes and stars in Amazon’s brilliant Catastrophe. But Divorce isn’t always as biting as it is …

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