Celebrity Divorces: Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down?

Image via Getty. Badge by Sam Woolley.
Image via Getty. Badge by Sam Woolley.

This week, the entertainment news magazines aren’t talking about the latest box office hit, or a refreshingly out-of-the-box television show that asks, “What happens when people with glasses take their glasses off?” They are talking about the divorce of large-faced film actors Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, with a breathless mixture of glee and horror, and leaving me confused about whether or not they think celebrity divorces are good or bad. According to me and science, they are both or neither, depending on who you are and what you like.


Assuming we are not members of the celebrity couple—just that we are kind people with highly-developed senses of empathy—one’s opinion of celebrity divorce rests upon whether or not we think the celebrities involved are A) real people, B) good people, C) characters in the greatest reality show on Earth, D) imaginary, or E) Sarah Jessica Parker’s HBO comeback vehicle.

A) If the guys involved in a given celebrity divorce are real, good people, they’ve likely divorced because something terrible has happened (or many small inconveniences and slights, and years of growing apart and wondering where the spark went that have turned the marriage into one terrible thing), instantly classifying the entire concept Bad. (You may recognize option A from when your parents did this during your childhood.)

B) If the celebrities are real but bad, the reverse is true: one of the top ten most satisfying things to witness is a Bad Rich confronting the misery that most people live in each day of their uncelebrated lives.

C) If we accept that the people involved in the divorce are stars of a highly-rated reality television show, I think we’d agree that a high-profile divorce is an exciting plot twist, but an upsetting one nonetheless, and one that will make us think long and hard about the episode we’ve just seen. If you chose option C, you may be one of those people who enjoys hypothesizing about whether we are living in a simulacrum or not.

D) If the stars are imaginary, then the divorce itself is imaginary, and the question becomes one about your character: Why did you invent these people and have them fall in love, only to rip the carpet out from under their emotional feet? How dare you, and who do you think you are?


E) I don’t know much about HBO’s Divorce but I’d guess it is fine but not for me.

Also something to consider: children.

I feel, personally, wracked with indecision about what I think celebrity divorces Actually Are. I’m unimpressed with the whole caboodle, at any rate. I could be impressed, though, by a few improvements:

  • Change the meaning of the word “divorce” to something pleasant, like a joke or kind of savory snack
  • Have the couple take a bow at the end, and win an award
  • Allow house cats and dogs to become practicing divorce attorneys, to make court proceedings cute
  • Only get divorced when a good thing happens, like you share a fulfilling kiss or take a trip
  • Every divorcé(e) gets a personal sundae bar, where they can make ice cream sundaes
  • Getting divorced makes you temporarily invisible so no one can take your photograph
  • Make children not exist

Joanna’s Rating:

Sometimes: Thumbs sideways. I’ll read your article about it, but only while I’m eating my lunch or peeing.


Other times: Thumbs down. Sad for the children.

This has been Joanna’s Ratings.

Senior Editor, Jezebel


Bitter exes who just want to stunt on the other. Thumbs Up and popcorn ready.

Drunken actor being exposed by wife for his abusive ways? A transcendent Thumbs Up.

Drunken actor, lashing out at children and wife making the decision to cut him out for everyone’s sake? Thumbs Down, because love and sadness.