The Split

3 out of 5

Created by: Abi Morgan

covers season 1 and 2

The Split aims for some balanced, incisive comments on marriage, love, and relationships. Its generational structure – a single mother, three sisters in various states of marriage and singledom – leads to a smart interconnection of plotlines that opens up discussing these concepts, and the cast is fantastic. The female-led cast and creative team gives the show a particular viewpoint… but it oddly doesn’t hold to that, taking some bold swings and trying to solve the muddle of independence versus codependence, but falling back on male/female pairings for a love-saves-the-day first season conclusion, and then sinking to some cheaper TV show machinations in its second season. Intra-scene, the writing is very strong, and the cast absolutely sells it all, making these disparate personality types seem like true sisters, and the husbands and boyfriends and flings we meet all also having full personalities which encourage viewing them as more than side characters. Setting each season around a central divorce – three of the four lead women are divorce lawyers – is also a good way to give cohesion and a central “theme” to what’s being explored. Again, the only real let-down here is how this incredibly strong front isn’t ultimately held up by what’s behind it, not elevating these themes or questions to more layered levels, or to breaking points. It’s understood that such subject matter shouldn’t have answers, but that also doesn’t prevent a show from pushing its audience to consider things beyond an initial query. Instead, The Split errs toward being crowd-pleasing, which is kind of ironic for the way it wants to examine societal norms in regards to relationships. But leading the charge – distracting from that – are Nicola Walker, Barry Atsma, Stephen Mangan, and Deborah Findlay (amongst others), whipping the material into something that feels real, and heartfelt, which does, admittedly, make for gripping viewing.