'Divorce' season 2 explores complexity of love and emotion
"Divorce" star Thomas Haden Church stopped by BUILD Series NYC to talk about the lows and lower lows of the series' very long divorce. Church plays Robert DuFresne, a former Wall Street executive who is going through a divorce from Frances, his wife of 17 years played by Sarah Jessica Parker.
In season 1 of the show, Frances and Robert DuFresne navigated the end of their marriage without the grace, tact or emotional maturity we expect of adults. The demise of their union was messy, at times profound and trivial. Frances revealed an ongoing affair with a man named Julian but also expressed disdain for Robert's mustache. Robert was genuinely hurt and angry but often responded in childish ways (i.e. locking her out of their home).
But underneath the dark comedy, there was a bitter truth: People fall out of love with each other, and the world doesn't stop to let them mourn. In the case of the DuFresnes, that means their friends' lives are still moving full tilt, and their children are still growing and changing right before their eyes.
Where season 1 was essentially a battle royale between Frances and Robert, season 2 ratchets up the drama, albeit with a lighter touch. The new episodes dive deeper into the intricacies of everyday life as the newly minted divorcees adjust to their new reality.
Their family dynamic shifts, as well. Though it's Frances who often acts in her children's best interests, they resent her and favor time with Robert. "I feel like I won sole custody of Lila's inner b--ch," Frances gripes about her preteen daughter.
Speaking of teenagers, during the BUILD interview, the actor shared some personal stories of his own two daughters who are growing into teenagers and how that is changing the dynamic of their father-daughter relationship.
"It was really in the 7th grade when my daughter started claiming her independence," he remembered. "She didn't want my hugs anymore, or for me to walk her to school after I'd drop her off in my truck, but they are a blessing."
As the series also touches on the attempt to find meaning in their lives outside of their relationships, one question hangs over everything they do: Can they find meaning and happiness after divorce? Can they find some semblance of purpose and normalcy when everything they've ever known has fallen apart?
This scenario somewhat resembles Thomas Haden's real life. Although the actor has never been married, his take on marriage itself is that he is not opposed to it, it just hasn't happened yet, and even if it doesn't, the show will go on. When an audience member asked Thomas was about his take on marriage as someone who plays a divorcee but has never been married.
"It's a tricky thing for me to be a middle-aged guy who has produces children, but it has never been something that I felt was necessary," he said. "And there were a couple engagements on the way that seemed to bring a host of problems that haven't been there beforehand."
In the end -- married or not -- "Divorce" is both funny and poignant. More than just a comedy, it's ultimately an exploration of the complexity of human emotion and the process of building a life that isn't dependent on another person.
"Divorce" airs on HBO on Sundays at 10 p.m. EST