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Thomas Haden Church Keeps Divorce Afloat

Thomas Haden Church is what keeps us glued to Divorce.

Divorce is a messy concept, and so it is only appropriate that the series bearing the same name is also messy. Divorce is not a perfect show — it is, in fact, far from it. But that’s part of what makes it so charming. Frances, played by Sarah Jessica Parker, isn’t exactly the most interesting character. She’s also not all that likable, though recent episodes have worked on that problem. What does work, however, is the dynamic between her and Robert, played brilliantly by Thomas Hayden Church.

Thomas Hayden Church is what makes Divorce work. He brings a dark, immature humor the to series that it needs. And when we saw immature, we don’t mean fart jokes; we mean emotional immaturity. Robert’s clueless one-liners are often gold, and they help elevate the character from just another TV husband. In a recent (and robust) interview with Collider, Church opened up about the dark joys of playing Robert and how he had some creative control:

“…And I made some pretty dark suggestions that they embraced and they’re in the show. There were some malevolent things, particularly with Jemaine. And poor Jemaine. He’s such a sweetheart.”

The Jemaine he’s referring to is Jemaine Clement, the Flight of the Concords actor who plays Julian.  We haven’t seen the full darkness of Robert, though it’s obvious at this point that he’s capable of it. He has a dark cloud floating inside him that Frances doesn’t, and it’s not something created by the divorce. We get a good sense that it has always been there.

This isn’t all to say that Divorce wouldn’t work at all without Church, but it works so much better with him. Even in slower, duller episodes, Church as Robert is often a highlight. And if there is any single reason why Divorce deserves to get renewed, it’s Thomas Haden Church. We just need more Robert in our lives.