15 Relatable TV Shows About Divorce

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Numerous films and series depict the rosy side of relationships that lead to a feel-good happily ever after. Perhaps nobody does it better than the Hallmark Channel and its bouquet of Christmas, Valentine, period, and comedy romances, with memorable titles like June in January, Marry Me at Christmas, Royally Ever After, The Lost Valentine, and A Biltmore Christmas. As corny and trope-studded as they may be, they constitute a guilty pleasure that provides a much-needed break from reality.

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And then there is the other side of the coin: releases that revolve around dying passions, gut-wrenching breakups, custody battles, revenge affairs, and loss. As far as divorce statistics in the United States are concerned, 35%-50% of first-time marriages end in divorce, increasing to about 60% for second marriages, according to according to World Population Review. This gives America one of the world’s highest divorce rates, resulting in an increasing demand for separation-themed productions to snuggle up to and gain comfort from.

Here is a selection of 15 shows spanning various genres and centering on divorce or featuring a divorce subplot. They succeed in tackling sensitive and relatable issues like cheating, resentment, forgiveness, mental health, single parenting, substance abuse, and, naturally, carefully returning to the dating scene in the aftermath.

15 Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce (2014-2018)

Based on the book series of the same name by Vicki Iovine, Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce spans five seasons following the personal and professional issues experienced by several divorcées and recently separated women: Abby (Lisa Edelstein), a 40-something self-help book author trying to hide her status so as not to ruin her credibility; Phoebe (Beau Garrett), a free-spirited former model; Lyla (Janeane Garofalo), an entertainment lawyer dealing with her own custody battle; and Jo (Alanna Ubach), Abby’s best friend from college, who has found out her husband has a second family.

Many Different Perspectives on Divorce

The show explores the personal lives of characters from different walks of life; audiences are bound to relate to at least one of them. It also tackles a very common reason for divorce: husbands with mediocre accomplishments whose ego can’t handle their spouses’ brilliant careers.

Buy Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce on Apple TV

14 Happily Divorced (2011-2013)

Happily Divorced Fran and Charles clink champagne glasses together
TV Land

Created by Fran Drescher and Peter Marc Jacobson, who also made the hit sitcom The Nanny, Happily Divorced stars Drescher as Fran, an L.A. florist; John Michael Higgins as Peter, her ex-husband who works in real estate; D. W. Moffett as Elliot, Fran’s on-off love interest; and Colin Ferguson as Chris, Peter’s boyfriend. The premise centers on spouses who separate after 18 years of marriage when the husband admits that he is gay.

Related: 14 Fun Facts About The Nanny to Impress Your Friends With

Based on a True Story

Coming out in a heterosexual marriage is not that uncommon. It’s also not a coincidence that the two leads are named after the show’s creators, as the story is inspired by their own experience, rendering the writing very genuine. It’s a lesson in laughing at one’s personal problems and slowly coming to terms with issues that are beyond one’s control.

Stream Happily Divorced on Paramount+

13 Uncoupled (2022-2024)

Netflix’s romantic dramedy Uncoupled centers on Michael (Neil Patrick Harris), a gay real estate agent who suddenly gets dumped by his partner of 17 years, Colin (Tuc Watkins). He then realizes how hard it is to get back into the dating pool in his 40s, especially in an ever-evolving New York City. Marcia Gay Harden stars as Claire, Michael’s wealthy client who was recently left by her husband.

Uncoupled
Uncoupled

Release Date
July 29, 2022

Rating
TV-MA

Realistic LGBT+ Representation

“Newly Single. Forgot How to Mingle.” – Tagline

The show was nominated in the TV Comedy category at the Queerties Awards. Audiences relate to Michael attending couples’ therapy, awkwardly using a dating app, feeling he is moving on too fast with a new date, or getting drunk upon hearing about Colin’s hot and younger boyfriend. As for Claire’s reluctance to sell her apartment, it perfectly illustrates the struggle of forcing oneself to look for another place to call home in the aftermath of a separation.

Stream Uncoupled on Fubo

12 Divorce (2016-2019)

Starring Sarah Jessica Parker, Thomas Haden Church, Molly Shannon, and Talia Balsam, Divorce is a dramedy centering on middle-aged suburban spouses Frances and Robert, covering not only their long divorce process, but also the issues they face in the aftermath, from finding love again to dealing with their nosy friends and their teenage kids, Lila and Tom.

Slowly Growing Apart

The show explores how couples slowly drift apart when they feel they have nothing else to say to or share with each other, and there is no more excitement or room for personal growth; not to mention how tricky it is to navigate separation with older, more sensitive children. Parker delivers such a convincing performance that she was nominated for a Golden Globe in the Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy.

As a review by The Guardian said:

“The elegant Parker, a better comic actor than she’s often given credit for, plays along gamely, giving us a portrait of a woman who is determined, despite everything, to endure. Her Frances is outwardly pinched and pursed of lip, yet with intriguing hints of something warmer and more vital lurking within.”

Stream Divorce on Max

11 Cougar Town (2009-2015)

Cougar Town is a sitcom set in a fictional Californian town where the high-school team mascot is a cougar — hence the name. It stars Courteney Cox as Jules, a recently divorced, single mom juggling real estate work, wine-drinking, fear of aging and abandonment, and dating younger men.

Also starring in the show is Christa Miller as Ellie, her headstrong, sarcastic, and loyal neighbor and best friend; Josh Hopkins as Grayson, a newly divorced pub owner who leaves his breezy, younger hookups for Jules; and Brian Van Holt as Bobby, Jules’ cheating ex-husband who lives on a boat.

Married Too Young

Critics weren’t all that impressed with the show, but audiences appreciate the fact that it deals with three common issues that often lead to divorce: getting married too young because of an unexpected pregnancy; a spouse being adamant on not wanting children, and the resulting friction; and the indisputable classic, multiple extramarital affairs.

Stream Cougar Town on Hulu

10 Once and Again (1999-2002)

Once and Again on ABC Still shot of the family together
ABC

ABC’s drama Once and Again revolves around the romance between Lily (Sela Ward), a single suburban mother of two girls, and Rick (Billy Campbell), an architect and single father of a teenage basketball player with a learning disability and a sensitive daughter (Evan Rachel Wood) who wants her parents to get back together. At the beginning of the show, Rick has been divorced for three years from his emotionally distant wife, Karen, but Lily’s papers aren’t finalized until the second season.

Delicate Subjects on Mental Health

The show explores extramarital affairs, financial and legal issues, and having to start over in the workforce in your 40s, as well as the challenges facing a blended family with troubled children. It also tackles delicate mental issues, including the signs of Alzheimer’s disease and features Patrick Dempsey as Lily’s younger brother who is diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Stream Once and Again on Plex

9 Better Things (2016-2022)

FX’s dramedy Better Things features Pamela Adlon as Sam, a divorced actress who is navigating the glamor and challenges of Hollywood while raising three daughters: the perpetually angry Max (Mikey Madison), the determined Frankie (Hannah Alligood), and the gentle Duke (Olivia Edward). Also starring are Diedrich Bader as Rich, Sam’s struggling gay friend; Alysia Reiner as Sunny, her newly divorced best friend; and Greg Cromer as Jeff, her lazy ex-husband.

Better Things
Better Things

Release Date
September 8, 2016

Cast
Pamela Adlon , Celia Imrie

Seasons
3

Real and Raw Depiction of Divorce

The show earned a Peabody Award in 2017, and for her raw and rousing performance, Adlon was nominated twice for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. Reviewers on IMDB find it “Funny, real, and inspiring,” “Insightful and bone-raw, with lovable characters,” and “An accurate and modern representation of single motherhood, parenting girls, and being divorced.”

Stream Better Things on Hulu

8 The New Adventures of Old Christine (2006-2010)

CBS’ sitcom The New Adventures of Old Christine stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Christine, a divorced and highly insecure mother who owns a women’s gym and lives with her son Ritchie (Trevor Gagnon) and her brother Matthew (Hamish Linklater).

Despite her contradicting psychological issues, she is tight with her ex-husband Richard (Clark Gregg), whose new girlfriend is also called Christine (hence the title of the show). As for Wanda Sykes, she portrays Barb, her witty and supportive best friend and business partner. The sitcom was canceled after five seasons and ended with Old Christine getting engaged to her therapist.

Hilarious and Endearing

“There’s something about lying on the floor, hiding from our lovers, that’s telling me we’re not in control of our lives as we should be.” – Christine

The show is a roller-coaster of emotions and explores mental health problems with humor, as well as the delicate issue of occasionally hooking up with an ex-husband and constantly comparing oneself with his new, much younger love interest. Louis-Dreyfus steals every scene with her hilarious physical comedy and facial expressions.

Buy The New Adventures of Old Christine on Apple TV

7 Fisk (2021-)

Fisk on ABC TV poster image of Fisk against a wall
 ABC TV

Fisk is a fast-paced Australian comedy series starring Kitty Flanagan as Helen Tudor-Fisk, a quirky corporate contract lawyer in Sydney who takes a smaller job in her hometown when her marriage and her career fall apart. Marty Sheargold and Julia Zemiro portray Ray and Roz, the partners in the little shabby firm she has joined.

A Quirky Show About Going Home Again

“Helen’s trying to piece her life back together (…) and she’s done what a lot of people do. They run home to Melbourne. That tends to be my M.O. when things go wrong.” – Flanagan to TV Tonight

For being cleverly written and wonderfully performed, the show won four awards in Australia, including Best Actress and Best Television Comedy Series. Its dark sense of humor and plethora of offbeat characters make for an enjoyable and unusual watch.

Stream Fisk on Netflix

6 One Day at a Time (2017-2020)

Based on Norman Lear’s 1975 series of the same name, One Day at a Time is a family dramedy that debuted on Netflix and ended on CBS’s Pop network. The story centers on the everyday struggles and little joys of a Cuban-American family and their peculiar landlord. Justina Machado portrays Penélope, a divorced U.S. Army Nurse Corps veteran and mother of Alex and Elena, while the iconic Rita Moreno plays her feisty mother.

Veterans, Mental Health, and Divorce

Besides the difficulties of dipping into the dating pool again while pursuing nursing studies and raising her kids, Lupe also goes to therapy for her PTSD and depression. Machado, a seasoned character performer, delivers a moving turn in the show. This unique series resonates with veterans, divorcés, queer teen activists, and the Latin-American community; it won 17 accolades, including two Sentinel Awards for Mental Health and three Imagen Awards for Best Primetime Program – Comedy.

Stream One Day at a Time on Netflix

5 The Greatest Divorce/Matrimonial Chaos (2018)

A list of series about marriage troubles wouldn’t be complete without the South Korean romantic comedy Matrimonial Chaos, a.k.a. The Greatest Divorce, a remake of a Japanese sitcom starring Cha Tae-hyun, Bae Doona, Lee El, and Son Suk-ku. The plot centers on 30-something spouses who realize, after three years of marriage, that they have very little in common. And when the husband’s first love appears, it complicates matters further.

Do Opposites Really Attract?

The series explores unfulfilled professional dreams and how that can precipitate the end of a marriage in which spouses aren’t that compatible to begin with. Opposites may attract at first, but maintaining a stable marriage when one is very picky and enjoys seclusion, and the other is upbeat and self-centered, can prove to be challenging. As is customary, Bae (Sense8, Kingdom) delivers a solid performance.

Stream Matrimonial Chaos on Kocowa

4 Sweet Magnolias (2020-)

Netflix’s Sweet Magnolias follows three best friends in the picturesque town of Serenity: Maddie (JoAnna Garcia Swisher), Helen (Heather Headley), and Dana Sue (Brooke Elliott), as they deal with professional, social, and relationship challenges. Maddie’s ex-husband cheated on her and has a baby with his fiancée, Noreen (Jamie Lynn Spears); he hasn’t been an involved parent to their three children, either. Dana’s estranged and straying husband is desperately trying to win her back. And Helen is torn between a former love and a new one.

A Charming Small Town Setting

Filmed in the gorgeous Georgian countryside, it is an immersive and juicy drama that captures audiences with its small-town charm, tight-knit community, and relatable characters who will have people rooting for them no matter how flawed they are.

Stream Sweet Magnolias on Netflix

3 Grace and Frankie (2015)

Set in San Diego, Grace and Frankie is a comedy series starring Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin as the eponymous aging women, who unexpectedly bond after their husbands, Robert (Martin Sheen) and Sol (Sam Waterston), confess they are actually in love with each other and plan on tying the knot.

A Feel Good and Funny Seasoned Show

Besides its stellar cast of seasoned, beloved actors, the show explores the challenges and repercussions of coming out to one’s spouses and children, especially at a later age, as well as gay activism. Per reviewers on IMDB, “It gently picks away at the nonsense in our contemporary lives and exposes the raw human condition,” “Funny one moment and heart-tugging the next,” and “Enhances your mood for the better.”

Stream Grace and Frankie on Netflix

2 Mom (2013-2021)

CBS’ sitcom Mom follows Anna Faris as Christy, a waitress raising two kids while attending AA meetings, sleeping with her married boss, struggling with dating, and dealing with both her wayward mother, Bonnie (Allison Janney), and her dimwitted but kindhearted ex-husband, Baxter (Matt Jones).

mom
mom

Release Date
September 23, 2013

Related: 10 Romance Movie Marriages That Probably Ended in Divorce

A Show About Second Chances

Witty, well-written, and brilliantly performed, Mom deals with irresponsible parenting, hooking up with ex-husbands for comfort, struggling with sobriety and substance abuse, teenage pregnancy, and picking up the pieces over and over again. But it’s also about second chances and forgiveness and boasts a wide array of colorful characters from all walks of life.

Stream Mom on Prime Video

1 Scenes From a Marriage (2021)

The poignant and thought-provoking movies of Swedish director Ingmar Bergman have spawned and inspired a few remakes, and HBO Max’s miniseries, Scenes From a Marriage, is one such example — but with a contemporary twist. It is an intimate and intense study of spouses Jonathan (Oscar Isaac), a college professor, and Mira (Jessica Chastain), a tech company vice president. Their marriage crumbles due to adultery and mismatched personalities, almost restarts, then becomes a mess.

There Is No Black-And-White in Divorce

The show manages to equally capture both points of view, resulting in the leads being critically acclaimed and nominated for their raw performances. It’s a slow-burn road to a somewhat ambiguous denouement, which brings them together in their own affair this time, as Jonathan is already married to another woman and has another child.

Stream Scenes From a Marriage on Max

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