I never watch television, if I can help it. But sometimes someone calls me and says “check this out; it’s a hoot!”
Just in time for the New Year, Bravo offers its innovative show, Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce. Guide, which premiered December 2, is the first scripted show on the network, which typically utilizes the reality TV angle.
The show opens as successful relationship and self-help author, Abby, reveals to her appalled fans during a book tour that her picture perfect marriage is actually poised on the precipice of disaster.
With no idea what to do, she turns to two of her closest friends for advice. Enter Lyla, an entertainment lawyer, and Phoebe, an entrepreneur. Both have weathered divorces of their own in their own unique ways. Lyla suffered through the all-too-familiar interminable traditional courtroom divorce and still battles with her ex-husband constantly. Phoebe and her ex, on the other hand, enjoyed a pleasant divorce, in part because they don’t seem to have really cut ties.
In the pilot episode, both divorcees give Abby advice on what they think her best course of action should be. But Abby has already hired Delia, Lyla’s friend, a scary celebrity divorce lawyer, who, of course, prescribes what she knows best and what will line her own pockets: a take-no-prisoners, win-at-all-costs war.
Of course, this comedy offers the viewer the stereotypical solution: drag him to court. One of the goals that Abby aspires to accomplish in her divorce is cutting ties with her soon-to-be ex in an amicable way that will be good for both herself and her children. Yet no one offers her any of the courtless options that would do just that. No one mentions the possibility of a collaborative divorce.
Abby and her husband could sit down and reconstruct their relationship with the support of not just their lawyers, but also a neutral facilitator, a neutral financial professional, coaches, a child specialist, and/or any other collaboratively-trained professionals with specific expertise that the clients might need in the process. Rather than retaining an expensive high-profile divorce lawyer and dragging her husband through the mud, as her friend suggests, Abby and her husband would resolve their personal issues confidentially, in private and outside of the press’ spotlight. A collaborative divorce would cost them far less in the long run, it would consume less time than a protracted courtroom battle, and it would allow them to make the decisions themselves, rather than relying on some elected official, the judge, who doesn’t know them or their children, or share their values, to make the decisions about how they will raise their kids.
Surely, such a divorce process would even help her get back into the good graces of her former fans. What better way than to demonstrate that, while not all relationships are perfect and everlasting, there are still respectful and kind ways to sever ties with the person with whom you were once in love and, more importantly, with whom you will share your children forever.
Yet another example of why I do not watch television.