Showtime has proven there’s an audience for television programming featuring women “of a certain age,” with it successful dramedy series Weeds (starring Mary-Louise Parker) and The Big C (with Laura Linney). Both shows are ending, but the network already has a potential replacement in Marti Noxon’s Guide to Divorce.
Noxon kicked-off her career as a prominent television writer/co-showrunner working alongside Joss Whedon on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spinoff Angel in the late 1990s. She has since contributed to an eclectic collection of television series, such as Prison Break, Grey’s Anatomy, and Mad Men; recently, Noxon has been serving as a writer and consulting producer on Glee.
Guide to Divorce is being backed through Noxon’s production banner, Luckypants, with Noxon serving as both writer and executive producer on the series. Dawn Olmstead will co-executive produce, having previously collaborated with Noxon on Prison Break and Still Life. Additional show-running duties are being handled by Meryl Poster (Project Runway) and “The Girlfriends’ Guides” book series author Vicki Iovine.
Noxon’s series is described by Variety as semi-authobigraphical, in the sense that her own relationship difficulties and marital problems inform the issues and ideas explored within the series (similar to how Lena Dunham’s real-life informs HBO’s Girls). However, Noxon’s half-hour TV show is told from the POV of four women in their 40s who deal with the fallout from divorce after a longtime relationship.
Meanwhile, Jodie Foster is currently developing the female-centric crime syndicate series Angie’s Body for Showtime. Foster and Noxon’s television shows will occupy the niche left vacant by Weeds and Big C – providing Showtime with some firepower to counter HBO’s own actress-centric offerings, with shows like Girls and Veep.
HBO is pushing the boundaries of televised entertainment featuring middle-aged female protagonists with a developing comedy series starring Catherine Keener and written by Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich). Kaufman and Noxon are traversing relatively unexplored dramatic territory for TV – though, the the former is doing so in his customary mind-warping manner.
Noxon’s Guide to Divorce, by comparison, has the makings of a Sex and the City show that’s less of a cosmopolitan fantasy and more an approachable take on the struggles endured by regular women (re: not those living in glamorous New York). It’s not so ambitious an approach as Kaufman’s from a narrative perspective, but it could result in a new Showtime series that’s both funny and refreshingly candid.