Divorce: “Counseling”

Last week, Frances (Sarah Jessica Parker) and Robert (Thomas Haden Church) were dealing with the immediate aftermath of Frances’ affair with Julien (Jermaine Clement of HBO’s Flight of the Conchords).  Robert was obviously not doing okay, and Frances was on her toes wondering what he would do next.


This week finds the couple heading to counseling to see if they can repair the damage from the affair. It’s clear that both Frances and Robert are tense. Frances goes off on a client who is career transitioning and how there may not be any options out there. It’s so obvious I don’t know if that even counts as a Freudian slip. Meanwhile, Robert has no one to talk to since his one friend is in a coma and his work buddies barely speak the same language. “Making the fuck with a French pendejo…” freaking priceless.

Once they get into counseling, Robert wants to know all the details of the affair. He states he wants to know everything so it is not like he’s waiting for another shoe to drop. Which is a totally fair point, but also really awful and painful; like when he finds out the French pendejo and Frances had sex 32 times. Ouch. But then Robert admits to nearly having an affair with an old college friend, and gets caught in a lie. Probably the first time I actually felt sadness for Frances.  Because while I get Robert’s point that he never had sex with his friend, emotional cheating can be just as damaging as physical cheating. Which do you think is worse?

The two of them are still trying to keep the issue under wraps from the kids. But Robert is still sleeping in the daughter’s room claiming an allergy to pet dander. You have to wonder how much the kids are picking up on with all the tension around them. Meanwhile, Frances is trying to get her gallery started though Robert says it is poor timing. This spurs Frances to admit that they can’t come back from this and that she needs to move on and pursue her own passions.

One part of the episode that really upset me was in the counseling office. When they first arrive for counseling, Frances makes eye contact with a woman sitting across from her. The woman has a bruised eye and the man sitting beside her has his arm around her, both looking very serious. It is, to me implying that he is an abusive husband and that they are going to counseling together.  A little while later, we see them again and they are both smiling and laughing with her bruised eye healing. While I understand that some couples experiencing domestic violence go to counseling, it felt more to me that this was an abused woman being persuaded to stay with her abusive spouse. The smiling and laughing later is a honeymoon period in a domestic violence relationship where the survivor is trusting of the abuser because they are sweet and caring before the violence escalates. Domestic violence as a plot device is not always bad, but feeling like the abused is being persuaded to stay with her abuser made me very uncomfortable as a viewer. I’m wondering if anyone else felt the same? Or perceived the scenes differently? In any case, here’s what is next for Frances and Robert.

Next week puts us in the mediation office as Robert and Frances try to calmly end their marriage.  But Frances seems to be thinking about intimacy, so that could be interesting.  Meanwhile, Robert is considering mediation as divorce school and I couldn’t help but chuckle.  I really do think Church is getting all the best lines so far. What do you think mediation has in store for the pair? I guess we will find out next week. 

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