Divorce Songs

in television

HBO’s new series, Divorce finished its 1st season this year, and recently announced that a second season will be picked up. In the realm of all the action-packed excitement of shows that HBO has to offer (Game of Thrones, Westworld, True Detective), it is easy to gloss over some of the simpler, more idiosyncratic shows like Girls or Insecure. Divorce falls into the latter type of HBO program.

Created by Sharon Horgan and starring Sarah Jessica Parker and Thomas Hayden Church, the show takes place in New York, zoomed in on a married couple in their 40’s/50’s. It depicts a major fork in their marriage, and how they navigate through a divorce for the first time. The subject matter is bleak, but there are wonderful moments of humor peppered throughout every episode. Church definitely contributes most to the humor with his odd temper and sometimes inappropriate social awkwardness. Parker plays a very annoyed and very tired wife and mother to perfection. One element of the show that the audience may notice, is that most of the music is straight out of the 70’s. Every closing credit is accompanied by a classic 70’s song by musicians that range from Supertramp to Little River Band.

While Church’s character, Robert, learns that his marriage might be ending, he starts going through his old records. It’s a little cliché to have a man going through a mid-life crisis, re-discover his old records, but there’s a reason that always happens in movies and TV. People resort to music when they cannot express their feelings. When an old song from high school days comes on the radio, it automatically transports the listener back to that time. When Robert finds his old Yes! albums (which is a delightfully hilarious band for his character to love), he remembers what makes him passionate. He remembers what it’s like to feel alive again. The fact that so much of the music comes from the 70’s is a very poignant move by the music supervisor for Divorce, Michael Hill.

In a way, choosing music from this decade makes the audience remember that this is the music that the couple must have listened to all the time when they were younger, more carefree…more in love. It creates a lovely nostalgia in the show that impeccably contrasts with the struggles the couple faces in modern times. There are some rare moments in the show when modern music plays. However, when this happens, it’s usually during an awkward or uncomfortable situation. A great example of that: Parker’s character, Frances, is riding in the car with Robert and Coldplay’s Paradise is on the radio. It is at the part when Chris Martin is singing “para- para- paradise” over and over, and Robert is singing along with it…badly. He just keeps repeating that part over and over and the audience can see that Frances is boiling with irritation. Finally she can’t stand it anymore and abruptly turns off the radio without a word. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with Coldplay, but any time modern music is playing, it’s almost like the couple just doesn’t fit in…much like how they don’t quite gel with the life that they have created for each other. The music in this series echoes the melancholy of this couple’s marriage as well as the grating harshness of their divorce.

Season 2 of Divorce is expected to air this fall.

Main Image Credit: HBO
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Lindsay Wessinger

Managing Editor at Media Foam
Lindsay Wessinger is a writer/musician who resides in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She has been a freelance writer since 2006, whose work has appeared in Square Magazine, The Ink Press and The Women Take Over. She has been a working musician since 2009 and is currently in the band, Girls Club.
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