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Stream It Or Skip It: ‘The Ex-Wife’ On BritBox, Where A Woman Can’t Seem To Get Her Husband’s Ex-Wife Out Of Her Life

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The Ex-Wife

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Two of the stars of the new BritBox series The Ex-Wife should be pretty familiar to American audiences: Tom Mison starred in Sleepy Hollow and Janet Montgomery had one of the main roles in New Amsterdam. That familiarity may get people tuning into this limited series, but will the story keep viewers watching all the way through?


Opening Shot: A car speeds down a highway at night. A voice over says, “We’re sold a lie at birth: The idea that there are good people and bad people. That we all have the best intentions.” The car one woman is in runs another car into a lane of oncoming traffic, causing a massive pile-up, a fire and leaving the second woman gravely hurt.

The Gist: Three months earlier, in a posh modern house, Tasha (Celine Buckens) sets up a candlelit dinner while her husband Jack (Tom Mison) puts their toddler daughter down to sleep. It’s their wedding anniversary, and Jack comes down to dinner on the phone with his ex-wife Jen (Janet Montgomery). Of course, Tasha is a bit perturbed, because she knows that Jen is very aware of what day it is. But Jack reassures her that she’s just calling to figure out arrangements for getting to the christening of Jack’s sister’s baby son. Jack and Jen will be the child’s godparents, mainly because of Jen’s history with his sister. Again, Tasha is perturbed, but seems to accept that this is the way it is.

After Jack finds out his driver’s license has been suspended, Jen comes over with a bottle of wine and offers to drive Jack, Tasha and their daughter to the christening. During the ride, Jack and Jen start reminiscing, effectively freezing Tasha out of the conversation.

She starts to think about when she and Jack met; she’s riding her bike to her coffee shop job, talking to her friend-with-benefits Sam (Jordan Stephens) on her phone, when Jack comes out of nowhere and hits her with his car. She seems to only be slightly hurt, but Jack offers to bring her and her busted bike back to his place to help her with the big scrape on her arm. There is definitely an attraction between the two.

He later calls Tasha to see how she’s doing and offer an apology dinner. There, they find out more about each other and establish a friendship. At a certain point, he tells Tasha that he and his wife Jen are separated, mainly due to the fact that their failed attempts to have children have put a strain on their relationship. Of course, the two of them sleep together that same night. Not long afterwards, Tasha learns she’s pregnant; contrary to what she thinks, Jack is elated at the news.

Back to the christening: Tasha is more or less on an island at the reception afterwards, and finds that most of the people there consider Jen to be Jack’s wife, despite the fact that Tasha and Jack are now married. Jack’s sister tells her that she essentially lured him away from Jen by getting pregnant.

Tasha is done with having Jen so involved in their lives, and tells Jack to tell her to stay away. He says he does, but then Tasha runs into Jen at the local supermarket, despite the fact that it’s not near Jen’s home; she even momentarily thinks that Jen spirited away her daughter while her back was turned.

Jack goes away on a business trip, and after she comes back from hanging out with Sam and her daughter at a local park, she’s horrified to see Jen sitting in her kitchen, guzzling wine and looking at a file. Jen let herself in with the house keys she still had “just in case”, but Tasha thinks that Jen is completely up to no good.

The Ex-Wife
Photo: Clapperboard TV

What Shows Will It Remind You Of? The Ex-Wife has the pulpy, psychological thriller vibe of many of the Harlan Coben adaptations we’ve seen, like The Stranger. This series was written by Catherine Steadman based on Jess Ryder’s book of the same name.

Our Take: There’s a real feel during the first episode of The Ex-Wife that the series is going to spiral into some ridiculous story directions, mainly because where we know the story is going. That media en res opening, where Tasha looks like she runs Jen into oncoming traffic, shows that Tasha is on her last nerve and doing something she never would have imagined. But we also don’t know what Jen has done to push her in that direction.

What also gives us that feeling is that the three main characters in The Ex-Wife feel more like ciphers than actual characters. Tasha is young and slightly naïve, but strong enough to finally put her foot down when things with Jen get too weird. Jack is handsome and suave, but the only thing we know about him is that he and Jen couldn’t have children. We don’t get a lot of info about what prompts him and Jen to go from separated to divorced, outside of the fact that he got Tasha pregnant. Jen is made out to be jealous and vindictive, and little else.

Now, as things go on, maybe we’ll see Tasha as being in the wrong, or things won’t be as black-and-white as they seem at first. But because we’re not given some basic information about just how things played out with Jack and Jen, as well as Jack and Tasha, we’re simply left with the impression that Jen can’t let Jack go and Tasha is too soft to keep it from happening. Either way, none of the characters have enough depth for us to care about the situation.

Sex and Skin: Jack and Tasha have sex, but everything is covered up.

Parting Shot: Tasha, tracking Jack’s phone, goes to the building where he is, and finds that he’s not on a business trip, but having dinner with Jen.

Sleeper Star: Jordan Stephens has the thankless role of being Tasha’s friend Sam, who basically is there to be a sounding board for all of Jen’s anxieties.

Most Pilot-y Line: When Tasha asks Jen, “Just how the hell did you get in here?” Jen shows her keys and says, “Used to live here.” Well, duh.

Our Call: STREAM IT. We’re giving The Ex-Wife a marginal recommendation because we’re not sure if the characters or story are going to get any deeper than what we saw in the first episode. We’re pretty sure it won’t, but at least Buckens and Montgomery are compelling enough to keep us watching.

Joel Keller (@joelkeller) writes about food, entertainment, parenting and tech, but he doesn’t kid himself: he’s a TV junkie. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Slate, Salon,,, Fast Company and elsewhere.