The Divide Does not Conquer

Christine Rosa (Marin Ireland) gets on Clark Rylance's (Paul Schneider) last nerve on The Divide.
The Divide (Photo: Steve Wilkie / WE tv)

WE tv gets into the scripted game with the legal drama The Divide. Has the show bitten off more than it can chew with regards to race, politics, and justice?

Show

The Divide. There’s a two-hour premiere tonight on WE tv at 9pm. There will be eight episodes (six more after tonight).

Premise

Twelve years ago an African-American family was murdered in a predominantly white neighborhood in Philadelphia. The killer is set to be executed, but Christine Rosa (Marin Ireland)—an intern for the legal non-profit Innocence Initiative—believes there may have been some case-tampering in the initial investigation and trial. Race, politics, and justice are on a collision course.

Pedigree

This is WE tv’s first scripted series. It comes from AMC Studios, which also produces The Walking Dead. The creators are Richard LaGravenese (Behind the Candelabra) who wrote the pilot, and Tony Goldwyn (Fitz on Scandal) who directed the pilot.

Who is The Divide For?

Did you ever wonder what happened to Serena Southerlyn (Elisabeth Röhm) after she got sacked on Law & Order? This show seems like a solid approximation.1

What Works

The basic story at play here explores some interesting dynamics. The issue of race and the justice system does play into familiar tropes, though there is an air of the heavy handedness or a Law & Order marathon. Also, and it really bothers me that we are at a point in television production where this is a positive, but I’m glad that the case isn’t revolving around a woman getting brutally murdered. Well, two of the victims were female, but I guess this is progress?

What Doesn’t Work

The writing and acting, separately and in tandem, can only be described as wooden.2 Throughout the On-Demand Preview that was available the week before the premiere, ads for the show highlighted Big Dramatic Moments(!) which ended up getting defused moments later in the actual episode. At the end of the hour, it was all sizzle and no stakes.

Verdict

If you are caught up on Scandal and The Killing wasn’t your bag, The Divide seems like an adequate filler show. I applaud the cable networks that are getting into the scripted game, though it seems like WE tv may have been a dumping ground rather than an intended target.

  1. Though it will be noted that Rosa is not a lesbian.  
  2. Considering the director plays a character I refer  to as President NyQuil, I am not terribly shocked.  

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About Mike McComb 656 Articles
Mike has been writing about TV online since 2008, when he started the blog WTF Little House on the Prairie? The blog was a project to practice writing about television analytically prior to getting an MA in Television-Radio-Film from Syracuse University, or as he likes to call it "TV Camp." After a lengthy stint at TVLatest, Mike wanted to launch a site that brought in classic TV, diamonds in the rough, and the shows everybody watches. E-mail: mike@whatelseison.tv