Here’s a little insider tip—if you want to annoy an agent or broadcast network executive, or hell, even a writer who’s had a rough week, use the word ‘dramedy’. Say something like, “No, it’s not like, funny, like it’s not three jokes per page, but it’s a comedy. It is!” Hand in a first draft that is 51 pages…too long by half for a ‘traditional’ comedy and way too short for a prestige drama unless that drama has a whole lot of vehicle chases, one after another.
Or, for shorthand, just say, “You know, like that new HBO show Divorce that Sarah Jessica Parker is in?” A new trailer, which just dropped, has TV-friendly buzzword jokes like “Are you drunk?” and “You packed a shopping bag full of bras”, “You’re WELCOME!”. But the overall sentiment, at least to me, is still pretty light on the supposed comedy.
It does have a lot of stars people love watching. Thomas Hayden Church and Talia Balsam and Molly Shannon and yes, Sarah Jessica Parker, who to me is kind of the key to selling what could otherwise be a tough project.
Not everyone likes her, obviously, but I partly think this is because she’s not a TV star, she’s an actress. She’s always come across as very open and very authentic, and to me, that’s the basis of her appeal. I mean, if you’re in the sh-t, you want other people to be in the sh-t with you, and Sarah Jessica Parker is always able to go there – to let you know she’s almost incapable of sugarcoating the rough parts. That’s why she’s sympathetic even when playing uptight bitches, as she did in The Family Stone, and that’s why Sex And The City, which has been much maligned the last 10 years, retains resonance in her performances, in which she was unafraid to be raw or selfish or ugly. (Cue up a rough fight with one of the relationships that mattered on that show, and I bet she’ll make you feel something real, even though the obsession with expensive shoes now reads as obviously pathological.)
So the question is whether or not we need our comedy to be funny, or whether, in the vein of Louie and Better Things and Transparent, we’re past labels, and just need a new word for ‘sometimes we laugh because what else can we do?’
Divorce premieres on HBO and HBO Canada on October 9.