Huffington Post Screenshot
The Huffington Post launched a new section this week to go along with its pages devoted to politics, business, and travel: a divorce site. Edited by famed author and screenwriter Nora Ephron, the site aims to be in the words of HuffPo founder Arianna Huffington, "a fast, fearless, highly interactive guide to the profound changes divorce brings." What's good, bad, and puzzling about this unprecedented new venture?
Broken marriages are a fact of life for many Americans. The new site could help people navigate the fallout of a dissolved marriage. With articles on telling your kids you're going to get divorced and how to deal with people who judge you for being a divorcee, it looks like the site is on its way to fulfilling its goal.
Despite all the practical advice available on the page, the site's tone is gratingly flip. "Marriage comes and goes but divorce is forever –Nora Ephron," proclaims a banner on the top of the page—making the site sound more like a celebration of divorce than a guide to navigating a process that can be economically and emotionally devastating. One of the page's regular features, "Divorce Aphorism of the Day," only compounds the site's breezy attitude toward its subject—especially considering the inaugural aphorism, from New York Times television critic Alessandra Stanley: "His happiness is a small price to play for my freedom."
Ephron's role in the enterprise seems hard to figure out. Yes, as Huffington says, Ephron "knows a thing or two about the subject"—she had a high-profile divorce from Washington Post star reporter Carl Bernstein in the '70s, which she wrote about in her semi-autobiographical novel Heartburn. But Ephron's films paint a sunny, idealized view of marriage—When Harry Met Sally is punctuated by testimonials from contented elderly couples who have been married for decades, and Julie and Julia focuses on two enviably loving, functional marriages. Correspondingly, the movies take a dark view of divorce—think of Harry's deep post-divorce depression, or Tom Hank's pathetic, divorced-many-times-over father in You've Got Mail. A divorce website seems like a strange project for a writer who's made her name penning movies that celebrate marriage.