Comedic Critique: The Pop Cultural Divorce Lawyer

19 Pages Posted: 28 Jan 2014

See all articles by David Ray Papke

David Ray Papke

Marquette University - Law School

Date Written: January 28, 2014


This essay discusses pop cultural divorce lawyers, focusing in particular on the lawyer Arnie Becker in L.A. Law (NBC, 1986-94) and on divorce lawyers in such Hollywood films as War of the Roses (1996), Liar Liar (1997), and Intolerable Cruelty (2003). The portrayals are largely comedic, but the comedy has a sharp bite. Pop cultural divorce lawyers emerge as manipulative, conniving, materialistic, self-interested, lusty, and narcissistic. The prototypical portrayal, the culture industry assumes in an unreflective, unsystematic way, will resonate with viewers and, in particular, their attitudes about divorce lawyers. Commercial success, after all, is always the industry’s first goal.

Keywords: divorce, divorce lawyer, popular culture, culture industry, comedy

Suggested Citation

Papke, David Ray, Comedic Critique: The Pop Cultural Divorce Lawyer (January 28, 2014). Marquette Law School Legal Studies Paper No. 14-02. Available at SSRN: or

David Ray Papke (Contact Author)

Marquette University - Law School ( email )

Eckstein Hall
P.O. Box 1881
Milwaukee, WI 53201
United States

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