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The two comedies, vehicles for Issa Rae (Insecure) and Sarah Jessica Parker (Divorce), have been greeted by critical approval and solid ratings since their October premieres. They join the pay cable network’s robust lineup of scripted half-hours, which also includes Veep, Silicon Valley, Ballers, High Maintenance, Vice Principals, the upcoming final season of Girls and the revived Curb Your Enthusiasm (return date still TBD).
Divorce and Insecure are each expected to return in 2017, both with 10-episode orders. That marks a two-episode increase for Insecure, which had an original eight-episode order for its first season. “We’re seven weeks in and I’ve got now a really solid data on all three shows,” HBO programming chief Casey Bloys told The Hollywood Reporter. “We wanted to make sure that we have solid hits here, and we do. It’s really exciting.”
Ratings for both comedies have been on par with critical favorites Veep and Girls, though not as high as Ballers and Silicon Valley. Latest gross ratings, which combine original HBO telecasts with DVR, encores, on-demand and over-the-top plays, have Divorce earning 4.4 million viewers an episode and Insecure pulling 3.2 million.
Insecure and Divorce, like Westworld, are products of HBO’s previous regime — developed and ordered to series by Michael Lombardo. The series also represent the bulk of the small freshman class for HBO’s 2016. The network had previously launched Vice Principals, an two-season order from the start, High Maintenance and the canceled Vinyl.
From Rae and Larry Wilmore, Insecure has been greeted by fairly rapturous reviews. It has also proved to be a discussion point in Hollywood’s continuing dialogue about the need to feature more inclusive voices in film and television. It’s the biggest venture to date for former YouTube darling Issa Rae, who rose to acclaim for her series Awkward Black Girl. It is produced with HBO by 3 Arts Entertainment and showrunner Prentice Penny’s Penny for Your Thoughts.
Divorce, created by actress-comedian Sharon Horgan, has served as Parker’s post-Sex and the City TV comeback. A darker take on comedy than Insecure, its first season was produced with HBO by Pretty Matches Productions, Merman Films and Kapital Entertainment 343 Incorporated.
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The Fien Print
William Jackson Harper