Sunday, September 30, 2007

Tell Me You Love Me: Dave and Katie on the couch

Spoilers for the fourth episode of the maddening, annoying, occasionally awesome "Tell Me You Love Me" coming up just as soon as I go out for ice cream...

As I've written a few times since the summer began, I watched all 10 episodes of this show in a rush, even though much of it -- specifically, two-thirds of our three main couples -- either bored me (Jamie/Hugo) or outright angered me (Caroline/Palek). I stuck around for an episode or two past the pilot, I'll admit, because I wanted to see how far out they were going to push the edge of the nudity envelope, but by the time we got to this fourth episode, the sex scenes had already been reduced in both frequency and edge-of-envelope-pushing. It was the non-sexual content of this episode that kept me watching, dammit.

In a series in which almost nothing ever happens, this was the episode where a lot happened (relatively). Dave finally joins Katie in therapy (in the best scene of the series). Hugo cuts the cord with Jamie, Jamie starts hanging with Boone from "Lost," and Jamie goes to see Dr. Foster and reveals that all her paranoia about Hugo's unfaithfulness was simply her own guilt over never being monogamous. And Caroline and Palek? Well, they're still having the same fights over and over and annoying the hell out of me, but at least Dr. Foster finally called out Caroline on her complete and utter self-absorption about this fertility process. (And Caroline's stunned reaction to that was one of the few times in the series that I laughed, though I'm not sure I was supposed to. I just hate her and her stupid suit-buying husband so, so much.)

Now, things happening with characters I don't care about wouldn't be enough to make me keep watching. But by this point I was so wrapped up in the Dave and Katie storyline and Tim DeKay and Ally Walker's great performances (which are totally award-worthy but will be ignored because everyone hates this show) that Dave's explosion in therapy really shook me. What's as great about that scene is how each of them has a right to be mad, and yet they're each missing the point. Katie feels like Dave just trashed their entire life with his mockery of Cheerios and minivans, but Dave's just trying to do what she and Dr. Foster want and express some of the reasons behind this prolonged sexual slump.


Dave feels too overwhelmed by all the parenting minutiae -- as supported by the later scene where they're talking about head lice and car loans -- to view his wife as anything but a partner in child-rearing. And yet any couple with kids (particularly those who don't have a nanny or other assistance) get bogged down with all of that and somehow still know where their libidos are being kept. There's something more going on here, and while I won't say what the rest of it is (or even if the show gets around to explaining the rest), the performances by DeKay and Walker and the obvious love between the two characters -- something that I never really feel with the other two, even at times when they're being affectionate -- kept me watching till the end.

What did everybody else think? It seems more and more people are dropping off every week. For those who've stuck it out, was this episode enough to keep you around for the long haul?

14 comments:

Jon Delfin said...

Bless my DVR. Dave's monologue was even more powerful the second time (immediately after the first). I had a feeling at the time that I would have been perfectly happy had Dave and Katie's session gone on for the rest of the episode.

Still learning the names of some of the actors, so didn't realize "Hugo" was a guest star. No couples therapy for him and Jamie...probably okay, that. He's probably too well adjusted to be interesting in that forum.

I'm in to the end.

Jana said...

I like it even better without the sex. I'm tired of Jamie whining and the disconnect of Palek/Carolyn. The actors who play Dave and Katie are fantastic and absolutely spot-on with their portrayals; all the way down to the nervous longing in their eyes when they lie down in bed at night. I'm in for the long haul too.

Anonymous said...

dave/katie is the only part of the show i've been watching after the pilot. i dont even know (nor care) what's happening with the other characters. so for me.. this is a 15-20 min show every week, and that suits me just fine

Taleena said...

Alan I dropped this show after the first episode but have been toying with watching it On Demand and fast forwarding to the Ally Walker bits.I think that I might do so given your enthusiasm for their scenes.

Linda said...

Nice to hear Tim DeKay is doing some more great work. I say "hear" because after HBO finished it's last run of "Carnivale" on ON DEMAND I canceled them.

I still have the image of Jonesy lying on the porch after Sophie shoots him. At this point we still don't know whether he survived.

Anonymous said...

I agree, I agree: Fast forward through needy whiny Jamie and self-involved shallow Palek and whatever her name is (I LOATHE her!)and get to the good stuff: Dave and Katie.

Beth. said...

After dealing with infertility myself I thought I would relate most to Caroline and Palek (hate that name) but I cannot connect with those characters at all. Now that I have young children, the Katie/Dave storyline has the most resonance. I loved the scene in a previous episode where early in the day Dave called Katie and genuinely wanted to spend quality time with her that night - but by the time the day had passed he could barely muster energy enough to shovel in his dinner and the conversation was long forgotten. I can't wait to see where their story goes...

melissa169a said...

Just curious, and same question I asked Joe P. over at TIME, but why are you both a week behind?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Because I'm writing about the episode that just premiered on HBO, not the one that's available via On Demand. It's the same way I treated The Wire last season.

melissa169a said...

Dear Alan, thanks for the quick response. Had no idea On Demand was a week ahead. James P. (NOT Joe, me bad) gave same answer. Learned something today. Thanks so much.

Anonymous said...

I must say that I am a little put off by the many posters who have rejected this show before giving it much of a chance. My wife and I have been watching this show On Demand since the beginning, and I think that it gets better every week. I try to keep in mind while watching that this show requires extraordinary acting. There are no murders, car chases, or historical events to lean on. Much of the action consists of hurt feelings, self-revelations, conflicting desires, and unconscious motives. It doesn't help that the camera is often right in the faces of the actors. Some of the facial expressions are a bit overdone, I'll admit. But we don't know the characters well enough yet for the acting to be more subtle. I expect things to improve as I learn more about the characters and as the actors feel more comfortable in their roles.

I agree that some of the characters are despicable, but I don't mind that. It's another way to get drawn in. (I sometimes find myself watching a sporting event just to see an individual or team lose. Why should everything be noble?) Besides, Carolyn and Palek are nice foils for Dave and Katie. Carolyn and Palek seem to live like two self-sufficient individuals who happen also to be married. Each makes executive decisions that should be made by committee-- e.g., buying big-ticket items and getting screened for fertility problems. They maintain their self-sufficiency by being utterly vicious to one another. So why are they married? I think that they have what my wife calls "the adult checklist," which is a list of things that any adult should properly have to be happy. You know that you are a mature and balanced adult if you have accomplished all the things on the list. Big career? Check. Marriage? Check. Nice house? Check. Kids? ??? I think that there are a lot of unhappy people stuck in marriages just like that. The problem could be narcissism or it could be a correction of some childhood experience. ("I'm going to stick it out and make this marriage work and be a good father, unlike that SOB father of mine...")

Katie and Dave have sort of the opposite problem. They found themselves having satisfied the checklist and now use the obligations incurred by it to avoid having to deal with the lack of passion in their marriage. Whereas Palek and Carolyn are acting too selfishly, Katie and Dave are acting too selflessly. Katie and Dave are my favorites too so far, though I really want to know more about May's past. I hadn't been that into Jamie until she admitted to being a cheater. That is a good development-- especially since she is smart enough to know how she is behaving and why. (It's an interesting thing to consider the distortion that occurs when one psycho-analyzes one's own behavior and then justifies the continuation of that behavior by reference to that self-knowledge. Gawd, I sound like an academic. Wait-- I am an academic.)

Anyway, it seems to me that this show is not really for young people (except those who want to know something about how complicated long-term monogamous relationships can be). If the thought (or sight) of gray-haired people having sexual desires is too much for you, perhaps you need to grow up a little. Until then, you can always tune into the Real World on MTV.

WCArnold said...

Rick said...

Hugo is an asshole? Check.
Hugo, though: asshole.

davesboa said...

Hugo is a jerk,


Oh, wait a minute, Jamie was the cheater and she was projecting. Where are the Jamie is a bitch comments? ...cricket sounds...

Anonymous said...

I'm glad to have found your blog since I think TMYLM is a good show, beginning with the return of Ally Walker to the small screen. Like many, I am drawn to the Dave and Katie storyline and to the spot-on acting of Walker and DeKay. It's almost heartbreaking to watch their inability to connect.

It will be interesting to share thoughts about why DeKay's character is willing to pleasure himself and not his wife. (Nine out of tem mammals would have followed Katie into the shower on the anniverary night). Is he bored, trapped, the king of passive aggression, all of the above? Why not Katie, while younger women in ice cream shop and billboards get doubletakes?

However, the quality of acting is also evident in the Pakek/Caroline story, which explains the strong reaction to their selfish lives.

Jane Alexander acts like an anchor in the show--drawing all things back to center and shining a light of hope. Although, if she gets up from her seat to smack Jamie, I won't complain.

KevinR said...

Someone enlighten me. (and I *promise* I'm not being sarcastic here) In watching Palek and Carolyn, I see that she's a monster, but what's he done wrong? He's tired of her being such a bitch to him so he's (passive-aggresively) pushing back. But I don't see him being self-absorbed as someone else mentioned. He's given her everything she asked for, and put up with a ton of abuse from her, and she's still taking it out on him that she can't get pregnant. What gives? Anyway, I watch for Dave & Katie too, and waiting for Palek to drop some emotional Whoop-Ass on Carolyn cause I hate her so much.

As for the "pushing the envelope", I actually felt like we were watching porn last night with Jamie and Tim Riggins. I don't see how they could have been faking that intercourse.