With the drama surrounding their impending divorce now behind them, Thomas Haden Church’s Robert and Sarah Jessica Parker’s Frances pick up with an eerie silence of sorts in the second season of “Divorce.” But it doesn’t last long.
“The storm, for the most part, has passed,” Church, 57, said at HBO’s midtown offices last week. “They’ve moved past the legal part of it pretty quickly, but then, as with any storm, there’s still an aftermath.”
The HBO drama, which bounces its time between Manhattan and Westchester, spent its entire first season toying with the proposed split between its two main characters. Wasting no time, the second season begins with Robert and Frances separated by a lengthy conference-room table, lawyers and legal papers in tow.
“So much of season 1 was about Robert and Frances. We wanted to broaden the stories we were going to tell this season because they really are moving on,” Church said. “But, they’re never going to be apart completely.”
“Divorce” switches tone in its second season to find a squandering Robert crashing on an air mattress and an off-course Frances popping back pills to help fill her sleepless nights. After ditching his Wall Street gig for the expected promise of a home-flipping profit, Robert tries to balance his time between construction work and bonding with the two children he no longer lives with.
Though things don’t exactly start off in a positive place for the exes, Church said the season is laced with an underlying “sense of hope” still to come.
“Now that he’s completely alone, there’s a lot of time spent reflecting on everything that he could have done different and didn’t. How do I rebuild who I am?” he said. The season’s drama picks up “once he has to confront loneliness and really be completely honest with himself.”
For Frances, that familiar sense of shedding the old comes with a switch back to her maiden name, some interior decorating and a trip down memory lane with a trampoline; for Robert, it’s a razor and some shaving cream.
Though Church’s mustache had become symbolic of sorts for his character, Robert heads for a bold new look to “rebuild his confidence.”
“It was like, ‘OK, I was confident as a married man, as a dad in a marriage. Now, I have to find it as a single man.’ That doesn’t get easier the older you get,” Church said. “After his career on Wall Street was over and he decided to get into home construction, it’s like ‘OK, what’s a new masculine vision for him?’”
Along with a new look, post-divorce life comes with a new love interest for Church’s character. Former “Ugly Betty” actress Becki Newton pops up early in the season as a realtor (Jackie) who sparks a relationship with Robert despite their age difference.
“It’s one of those opposites attract cliches,” Church said. Frances also sparks up a new relationship of her own, leaving the season to toy with the troubling dynamic of the exes balancing romance, co-parenting and more.
New episodes of “Divorce” air Sundays at 10 p.m. on HBO.