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The Divide on We tv

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WE tv jumps into scripted programming pool with 'The Divide'

Season 1 | Episodes 1 & 2 | “The Way Men Divide” & “No Such Thing as Justice” | Aired July 16, 2014

When everyone from A&E to WGN America, not to mention the Amazons and Neflixes of the world, is throwing their hat in the ring of scripted programming, it was only a matter of time before WE tv did the same. Methinks The Weather Channel is next—Twister: The Series, anyone?

Judging from the first two episodes of The Divide, which debuted together, I’d say the channel that is home to such reality programming as Mystery Millionaire and Marriage Bootcamp—as well as copious amounts of Will & Grace and Law & Order reruns—hardly wants to reinvent the wheel. Using as its hook the age-old story of saving a (possibly innocent) man from death row in a race against time, WE tv’s inaugural launch into scripted fare is a rehash of a plot device that movies and books have used as a trigger for conflict many times before. We’ve seen it everywhere from John Grisham’s The Chamber to the awful The Life of David Gale, with an overwrought Kevin Spacey performance and a ridiculous twist ending to match.

Yet despite this, The Divide got me in its grasp. Television is all about characters, and The Divide presents us with a group who find themselves in a pressure-cooker situation with moral and ethical implications.

When we first meet Christina Rosa (Marin Ireland), she is reading Nietzsche while tending bar. We soon find out that’s merely her day job, as she also is an Innocence Initiative caseworker currently infatuated with a death-row case involving one Jared Bankowski (Chris Bauer). He was sentenced to death for killing—with accomplice Terry Kucik (Joe Anderson)—the Butler family (Kucik was underage and had no record, so was given the lighter life sentence).

After stumbling across evidence photos of Bankowski, Rosa becomes convinced of his innocence—one of the victims had a bloodied hand that would suggest that Bankowski was attacked, yet he had nary a scratch on him. Rosa’s quest to prove Bankowski’s innocence proves to be quite the uphill battle, as everyone from the Governor, to her superior Clark Rylance (Paul Schneider from Parks and Recreation), to overly ambitious District Attorney Adam Page (Damon Gupton, who played the mayor on Fox’s short-lived Rake) wants nothing to do with the seemingly open-and-shut-case. Even Bankowski himself seems over it all, refusing to give a DNA sample.

The DivideBut Rosa isn’t one to bow down and go home. After some persisting, she gets Rylance’s support, and Bankowski’s case becomes their number-one priority.

The Divide was originally slated for AMC, but was bumped to its sister station after being passed on. It comes from Tony Goldwyn—that’s Scandal‘s President Fitzgerald to all you readers out there—who directed the pilot and serves as an executive producer. The series was written by Oscar-nominated screenwriter Richard LaGravenese (John Tinker serves as showrunner). Both Goldwyn (whose last feature film as a director, Conviction, also dealt with a man wrongfully convicted for murder) and LaGravanese are talents who are more interested in exploring what is under the surface when it comes these characters. And that is exactly The Divide‘s M.O. (its tagline is “Everyone is guilty of something,” after all).

As played by Ireland, a journeyman actress who’s had good arcs on Starz’s Kelsey Grammer-starring Boss and Showtime’s Homeland, but could easily be mistaken for Elizabeth Moss (or Taylor Schilling or Teri Polo), Rosa is cut from the same plucky, wet-behind-the ears, crusading reporter we know so well from many movies and television shows. But there are many layers to her character as well, including a personal attachment to the Bankowski case (her father is currently serving time for a crime he allegedly didn’t commit). Although she drinks and sleeps around with a cop (Adam Rothenberg, the sole weak link), Rosa is one with a tough exterior that hides many, many scars. This could be the role that finally gives Ireland her due.

It always boggles the mind when a single TV show gets stacked with so much on-camera talent, and The Divide continues that trend. Aside from the aforementioned Schneider and Gupton, we also have Nia Long as Page’s equally ambitious wife, Billie; Ann Dowd as Bankowski’s mother, giving Margo Martindale a run for her money in terms of scene-stealing; Clark Peters, so good on Person of Interest and equally good here as Page’s police commissioner father who also is tied to the case; and John Bedford Lloyd as Rosa’s dad. It’s top-notch work all around.

Another plus of the show is the way it deals with class divides and the seamless way race is intertwined. Rosa, who is white, is lower middle class, while the Pages, who are black, are part of the elite. The Butlers, who were black, were killed in an affluent white neighborhood, and two white males, one with neo-Nazi ties, were convicted for the crime. Setting all this in Philadelphia—the “City of Brotherly Love”—is yet another nice touch.

I think the best thing about the first two episodes of The Divide is in the way it sets up relationships—between Rosa and Rylance; Page and his wife; Page and his father; Page and Jenny Butler (Britne Oldford), the only surviving member and sole eyewitness to the family massacre; and best of all, Bankowski and his mother (Bauer and Dowd knock it out of the park in their one scene together). I was surprised at the direction the second episode took and the way the rest of the season seems to be set up. It’s going to be a long journey, but one I’m willing to take. For a network taking its first shot at scripted programming, there are worse ways to make an impression.

Welcome to the club, WE tv.

The Divide airs Wednesdays at 9/8C on WE tv.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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