Sarah Jessica Parker is returning to HBO after a 12-year absence, but Carrie Bradshaw isn't coming with her.
If you're one of those people who has never gotten over Carrie's cheating on Aidan (John Corbett) in Sex and the City, Parker's new show, Divorce, could be a tough half-hour. But maybe it's time to let all that go. The actress has.
A comedy from Sharon Horgan (Catastrophe) about something that should be hard to laugh about, Divorce (10 p.m.) is one of two new shows premiering Sunday after Westworld. Parker stars as Frances, whose decision to end her marriage, after 17 years and two children, appears to her husband, Robert (Thomas Haden Church), to come out of nowhere.
Turns out it hasn't, but that doesn't make the situation any less painful.
The original idea for Divorce came, funnily enough, from Parker's interest in the institution Frances is so eager to escape.
"I think I just wanted to tell the story of marriage," the actress and producer said this summer during an HBO media event.
She had been working on the project about four years, even before Horgan - whose Amazon series is a brutally funny take on marriage - entered the picture.
"I didn't care about people responding well to choices Frances made. I think marriages are incredibly complicated, and smart, thoughtful, evolved people make choices that are not necessarily smart," Parker said.
"She makes some choices that some of us might not. But she's very real. . . . I think the more you spend time with her, the more you'll learn about who she is."
The same is true of Divorce, whose first episode left me a little cold. I don't need to like all the people on TV, but don't expect me to care (or laugh) when nasty people part.
It grows into something less brittle - and funnier - over the six I've seen, as the couple explore their increasingly unpalatable options and we get to know them better.
The actors are well-matched, even if their characters aren't, and no one projects might-be-just-a-little-crazy like Church.
Still, the best thing about Divorce is that Parker's star power could bring viewers to Insecure, the smart and funny show that follows it.
I'd call it Sex and the City 2.0, but Los Angeles is a very different city, and friends Issa (Issa Rae) and Molly (Yvonne Orji) aren't Carrie and Miranda, even if one has an internal monologue and the other's a lawyer.
Created by Rae with Larry Wilmore, the veteran producer who until recently hosted Comedy Central's Nightly Show, Insecure was inspired by Rae's YouTube series, Awkward Black Girl, the project that also led to her best seller, The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl.
The series hits some of the same notes as SATC - female friendship, the longing for (and fear of) commitment, and, yes, sex - while touching on things that show never could, such as what it's like to be black in a workplace that's predominantly white.
And, of course, Carrie never rapped.
Insecure is secure enough to show empathy for some of the men who disappoint Issa and Molly, including Issa's underachieving boyfriend, Lawrence (Jay Ellis).
It can be gentle, too, with characters like Frieda (Lisa Joyce), who works with Issa at a nonprofit serving at-risk children, and whose heart's probably in the right place, even when her foot's jammed halfway down her throat.
That's not weakness. That's strength.
Issa the character may be a work in progress, but the woman writing and playing her knows exactly what she's doing.