DIVORCE ME FROM THIS SHOW
Sarah Jessica Parker has a penchant for playing characters in shitty relationships. Carrie in Sex and the City set up a domestic catastrofuck with Big, and now in Divorce, well, she’s divorced. In both cases, I’ve liked the men in her life so much more than her characters. Big was unwilling to commit. So what? I’d forgotten what a crime an aversion to marriage was to the four SATC women who pretended to demand freedom from men. The first episode of Divorce introduces us to SJP’s Frances, who contorts her middle-aged face in the bathroom mirror, lamenting aging, while her soon-to-be ex-husband, who NEEDS THE FUCKING BATHROOM, shits in a coffee can in the garage. That’s when I knew I’d like his character Robert infinitely better than her Frances. Anyone willing to poop while holding onto their car bumper rather than face the wrath of SJP gets my vote.
Where in SATC SJP played a highly-overpaid sex columnist whose mode of dress evoked Grey Gardens vomiting on a homeless couture clown after too many Manhattans, Frances might as well be Carrie’s older sister in that every one of her outfits looks like she shot her grandmothers’ couches and turned them into skirts and petticoats. That’s right. Petticoats. Because apparently, she thinks her divorce is taking place in 1870. Carrie had a wildly expensive shoe collection that no local columnist could afford. Frances has an endless coat collection from Anthropologie’s reject pile while she struggles to keep her house. Carrie had wild hairstyles. Frances has perpetual bedhead.
But most of this is nothing more than kooky claptrap. Or it was, until this past Sunday, when the show’s writers, including SJP as its executive producer, included a remark about adjunct college professors that reinforces one of the biggest bullshit misconceptions currently damaging adjuncts across this country. In this episode (season three, episode three), Frances and Robert meet with their ingrate son Tom’s snide college counselor (who looks like Steve Mnuchin’s discarded twin) about his applications, and the counselor reads part of Tom’s essay aloud. When I first heard its title, “Higher Education: Scandal of the Twenty-First Century,” I thought, maybe this kid who, let’s be honest, is not even a viable fetus at 17, is making a necessary point about the broken college and university systems in this country. But then his rat-faced counselor continued with the essay, reading this line, with commentary: “Likening adjunct professors to ‘getting surgery from the guy who mops up the O.R.’ is sublime.” Sublime? Fuck you.
What’s sublime is watching a hack like you only make your way up to middle management in a high school filled with children who believe they can criticize people and systems they don’t know shit about. For your information, Jon Oliver’s shrink-wrapped, schmuck of a doppelgänger, adjunct professors must have a minimum of a master’s degree in their field, and many have MFAs and PhDs. The adjuncts I know generally have more publications than tenured ones because they’re struggling for full-time positions. Adjuncts are fully qualified to teach college students, yet they’re stuck with below poverty-line pay, no benefits like healthcare or retirement pensions, often no paid days off, and no job security beyond the current semester. Most teach at three or four colleges concurrently, meaning they work somewhere between two and three full-time jobs. Tenured professors teach four to five classes per term. I know adjuncts who teach twelve. Many have to decide between keeping their lights on or their phones functioning each month because they can’t have both. Some are homeless and sleep in their old cars that are held together by gum and a prayer. And still, they are experts in their fields, grade papers by candlelight, and work their asses off to teach kids like Tom.
And what in the ever-loving fuck are you doing going after janitors, SJP/Frances? Janitors? The people who mop the floors you damage with your stiletto heels and empty the garbage cans you throw your shit into on the way to freaking out on your ex-husband and his pregnant fiancée? Janitors who keep your dirty little troll of a son’s school clean? And by the way, some of them were surgeons in other countries, but came here and gave up everything to give their kids the chances that your children take for granted, and know more about medicine than you’ll ever know about fashion. Janitorial work is honorable. You know what’s not? Going after people who give up life’s basics to educate your ungrateful kids.
By the way, Frances’ friends are equally insufferable. The company she keeps is trash. The usually wonderful Molly Shannon plays Diane, a formally rich bitch who loses it all when her philandering husband is arrested for financial crimes after she attempts to murder him, and now works in a department store selling clothes she can no longer afford. She whines incessantly, believes work is beneath her, and attacks anyone who tries to offer help. Talia Balsam plays Dallas, a therapist who couldn’t give a rat’s ass about what her patients have to say, and does nothing but bitch about her son, her ex, her job, and everything else. Her character will live forever because we all know some THOT who eats nothing but hate, vinegar, and spiders, and besides osteoporosis eroding them from the inside, will live to be 150 years old. I forgive Balsam for this character because George Clooney divorced her in the 90s, and that’s enough to make anyone a raving c-u-next-Tuesday.
And Frances works as a manager in a bird store and I couldn’t feel worse for the birds. An unsuspecting warbler approaches the store window this week, and Francis is, per usual, irritated. I’m going to start a Go Fund Me page for this bird to see if we can’t home it somewhere far away from the set of this jizz stain of a show, because it surely deserves better.