Monday, April 12, 2010

United States of Tara, "You Becoming You": The talking cure

A review of tonight's "United States of Tara" coming up just as soon as I crack the spine...
"Is Joel Gretsch going to be back as Tara's therapist next season?" -Me, August '09
"No, Tara will have a new therapist." -Diablo Cody
"Oh? Who'd you cast?" -Me
"I can't tell you yet. I promise I'll tell you when I can." -Cody

"Back in the summer, you said you couldn't tell me yet who will play Tara's therapist this season." -Me, January '10
"I still can't tell you." -Cody
"Seriously?" -Me
"Nope. I'll tell you when I can." -Cody
For a while, I assumed the mystery surrounding the new therapist was one of those Clooney-returns-to-"ER" deals, where the actor had enough clout (and enough disinterest in hype) to insist his or her casting not be announced in advance. Then I came to the end of "You Becoming You," and I understood exactly why Cody wanted/needed to keep this particular secret: because the "new therapist" was actually Tara's newest alter, Shoshana, modeled on gay neighbor Ted's real therapist Shoshana in New York.

Of course, sometime between January and now, either Cody or someone at Showtime who outranks her decided to not keep it entirely a secret. Shoshana has been in a lot of the promotional art, and after I watched this episode a few weeks back I saw a couple of interviews with other "Tara" producers that gave away some details about the character, but not necessarily that Tara's psyche created her in lieu of finding an actual therapist. Still, I'm glad I got to be fully surprised. I assumed Tara was lying to Max about talking to the real Shoshana, but only to get him off her back after the Pammy fiasco, so I was nicely dumbfounded when Max walked in on the reality of the situation.

But because Shoshana only appears briefly (while I've seen several more episodes), I'm going to set her aside and focus on some other parts of "You Becoming You," other than to say my eyebrows raised very high when I got a good look at the very Alice-like dress and red heels being worn by the woman in Tara's flashback.

Marshall's storyline continues to maybe the show's strongest blend of comedy and angst, and always wonderfully played by Keir Gilchrist. The Gregsons have always treated Marshall's sexuality as something that's understood but never really addressed head-on, and therefore it felt right that he should finally come out of the closet to his dad in the wake of his failed attempt to prove his heterosexuality with Courtney. Max's completely unruffled response to the announcement - "Good. So, you want anything?" - was a very John Corbett moment at a point in the season where Max is becoming less Corbett-like, and it turned out to be exactly the reaction Marshall needed. He needs to be accepted, but he doesn't really want to talk about it, and certainly not with his parents.

Charmaine, meanwhile, is pregnant, and after she and Tara started talking about the date of conception, my first thought was, "So, it's Neil's baby, right?" Whether it is or it isn't, I hope this story leads to more Patton Oswalt. And Kate's car trouble leads to the first of what should (if the writers were paying attention to how good Viola Davis is with what's so far a tiny part) be many meetings between Lynda and Tara.

What did everybody else think?

22 comments:

Bianca said...

Also in regard to the flashback. I couldn't help but notice the red poncho Charmaine was wearing, reminiscent of Gimme

Tad said...

i dont like the marshall storylines i find them almost unbearable to watch. Hopefully the addition of a new alter will spice up this season.

Chip said...

I don't really use Twitter so pardon the randomness but I just had to wonder, is the ticking clock on 24 inspiring you to watch the final eps?

Mike said...

yeah Bianca, and her mother explicitly asking Tara what happened to her own poncho... very mysterious

Tara said...

I also noticed little Charmaine's red poncho. If Shoshona is modelled after a real person, the same probably applies to the other alters. At least we have clues where Gimme and Alice come from now.

Also, I loved the moment between Marshall and Max, and I'm happy he has accepted that he's gay. I find this storyline very well done.

Anonymous said...

I love the slow back story with all the hints at why Tara's developed DID. The way her mother spoke to her in that creepy voice (from the little I've read it's the only logical conclusion) to the red poncho. Gimmie could easily be an alter of defense.

I feel shredded over Max. He deals with so much shit. Albeit, it's willingly. Though, I'm taken back by his quick shrug to let her deal with the issue. What did he think was going to happen?

This show is incredibly progressive. I love the quick acceptance of Marshall being gay to Kate's "HELLO!?! Obama is president" in which Max explains they don't care she's black. Love it! Love it! Love it!

Has there been talk of how long the series will last? I know it's been renewed for a 3rd season.

JWIII

Anonymous said...

I also wanted to add a comment about how disgusted I felt when I watched the sex scene between Tara & Max. It almost felt like rape. Tara was just going through the motions, the way she just laid down. Eh! Mere coincidence the alter appeared soon after? Is this just me?

And, please, I hope they explain why she's so anti house. Is it because it reminds her of her house growing up?

I know Alan's commented on the show being unusually sexual in a prior post but I think they have to be considering the supposed trigger of DID.

JWIII

Michael said...

I had heard we'd see a new alter tonight, but I had no idea and was completely surprised at the appearance of Shoshana tonight.

NO idea where the Kate/Valhalla/Lynda story is going, but she looks like she's having fun with it.

And I feel sorry for Marshall. I guess this was his last attempt at "proving himself" one way or the other; I can't help but think he was intimidated by both the amount of condoms on the bed and the extra-large one he picked out. But I loved Max's reaction to Marshall's pronouncement, almost as if it was "well it took you long enough to come to that decision, your mom and I have known for a while now!"

JanieJones said...

I liked the small clues of the flashbacks. I knew after last season (with the discovery that the guy from boarding school was not root of her DID) that there was some familial aspect. It has to be. I almost shudder to think of what really happened to Tara and possibly Char.

I have been enjoying Gilchrist's story line. Marshall's sexuality has never been a bone of contention within the Gregson household but he has never made any statement like he did to Max last night.

I was a bit surprised by Tara and Max's reaction to Kate being at Lynda's due to the car problem. The only obvious clue is it's an questionable area. Obviously, parents do not want their teenagers in strange areas but I thought Max's reaction was bit too strong. I've always thought of Tara and Max as progressive parents. Max grounding Kate was the only thing that did not ring quite true.

I loved the reveal of Tara transitioning into Shoshana. I look forward to more of her therapist alter.

Anonymous said...

The Marshall storyline has been handled well, but the way everyone acted last season (particularly when Marshall was with Jason) made it seem like Marshall had come out a long time ago. If they wanted Marshall to do some experimenting, that's fine, but it already seemed pretty well established that he was officially out and that no one cared.

LA said...

I am happy for the flashbacks into the past so we can start to truly unravel the mystery of Tara's DID.

Off-topic a bit, but I am really enjoying Nurse Jackie this season.

mrsb said...

I didn't feel that Tara was just "going through the motions" during the backyard sex at all. I think it was just a fast reconnecting moment of passion after a passionate fight.

I love Tara this season.

Jono said...

It feels a little odd to me that when Max and Tara went to pick Kate pick up at Lynda's "studio", Max never went inside to meet Lynda or asked about her. Perhaps Lynda is one of Kate's alters?

Kitty M said...

Oh my goodness, I felt heartbroken by the therapist/new alter reveal. Poor Max, standing there seeing it with his own eyes and being the first one to know that Tara isn't even nearly better or closer to being integrated - she's getting even more splintered. Sob! Awesome tv...

I don't personally think Lynda is one of Kate's alters, Jono, as this would be a total break for the show in the way it represents DID and the alters - when we see them it is always obvious that they are alters because they are played by the same person.

But I thought seeing Tara meet Lynda was immeasurably more interesting in about thirty seconds than all of the scenes between Kate and Lynda so far. In fact, that whole story seemed to be going nowhere until that moment, where Lynda's presence finally seemed that it might soon have a purpose.

I didn't feel that Tara was just "going through the motions" during the backyard sex at all. I think it was just a fast reconnecting moment of passion after a passionate fight. - mrsb

I kind of felt like it was less passion, more necessity. Almost as though Max was reclaiming Tara and she just had to let him because she wanted to reconnect. I was like they were both just going through the motions in order to prove something to each other - their underlying love/the fact that they do 'belong' to each other after all even though they don't feel all that love at the moment? It seemed functional in a sort of territorial way, as though it were still a part of the fight, not a part of the making up. Did anyone else get that from Collette and Corbett's performances? Like, the way they just went straight into humping once they got outside: it wasn't tender at all, there was an emotional disconnect there. It wasn't rape, though, I don't think, JWIII; I think both clearly participated willingly - but it wasn't making love in a traditional sense.

I hope they explain why she's so anti house. Is it because it reminds her of her house growing up? - JWIII

Do you mean you think she's anti the house next door? I don't know about that but I think there is a strong argument to be made about the house reminding her of her childhood. Its old fashioned decor seems totally seventies, which fits with when she would have been growing up. Specifically, the rotary dial phone
triggers her memory of her mother dialling someone (of whom she seems fearful - I'm guessing it's the father, and that there is more to that tale...)

This show is incredibly progressive.

Okay, I know the above was about race and sexuality, but I also think it is progressive in this little way: Collette seems to hardly ever wear a bra! Before, this seemed to be more with Buck but I love how she's just unafraid to be in bed in a little strappy top and nothing under it. I feel like in other shows they'd be making her shove them up in a wonderbra like 'T' all the time. It feels distinctly feminist to be like, 'Yeah, that is how my boobs look naturally.' Again, perhaps I am reading way too much into this...

MrsB said...

Oh, I forgot to mention how much I LOVED the Billy Jack reference!!! One of my favorite old movies. JC knocked it out of the ball park!

Kris said...

There's been no evidence of Kate having alters, and even if she did, why would Tara see it? And see it when Kate was clearly outside? And Max did poke his head underneath the door for a moment.

Tara calls the woman in the memory "Mimi", not mom. I'm thinking it's her grandmother, maybe.

On Tara's being uncomfortable in the house next door - I think she'd been (or more specifically, one of the alters had been) in the house before. Maybe spending time with the guy who killed himself.

I'm pretty sure one of the neighbors or his sister mention that he'd been getting worse in the last couple of months... about the same amount of time Tara had been "better" and alter free. Perhaps he thought his friend/lover/whatever had left him?

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I hope they give us an answer as to what about the house is triggering her DID. I mean, they more or less did in this episode. I don't need the show to tell me, just keep showing me as they've been doing.

While I do not think the sex was actual rape there was some raw primitive unappealing feeling to it that suggested it was more than just pleasure. It's as if Tara was so used to being in that position that she didn't want it but just submitted. From where I was watching there was nothing appealing about it. Granted my window wasn't facing the backyard.

Y'all do realize Mimi says "All that rain will fuck up the hard wood." Jeeze, that's harsh for young children.

Anyways, this show is easily creeping up with it's attention to detail.

JWIII

Captain Jack said...

Those who are disturbed by the lawn scene have clearly never had angry sex.

You guys are deprived.

The first comment...red poncho. GREAT CATCH.

Kitty M said...

Tara calls the woman in the memory "Mimi", not mom. I'm thinking it's her grandmother, maybe. Oooh, that's right. And that would explain why she (and therefore Alice, it would seem?) is a little more fifties seeming than seventies...


I love your neighbour/alter theory, Kris. It would be really interesting to add that element to the creep factor already saturating that house.

That red poncho catch is indeed awesome. It seems like the writers might really know where they are taking a lot of this. I sincerely hope so - it's always somewhat upsetting to find out a show is just making it up as they go along (cough, X Files, cough) and here we are as viewers picking apart details that don't matter.

While I do not think the sex was actual rape there was some raw primitive unappealing feeling to it that suggested it was more than just pleasure. It's as if Tara was so used to being in that position that she didn't want it but just submitted. From where I was watching there was nothing appealing about it.

Hmm, I thought Max was angry, and she wanted to be forgiven, so she let him do what he wanted as a sort of practical transaction, weighing her own lack of desire for the sex itself against her desire to be back in his good books. And he seemed to be punishing her in a way. It was like a status/respect thing, ie. she had lost some by lying, and he was letting her know. Definitely angry sex, though, Captain Jack, yes.

Miken said...

Anyone else think that with all the talk Alan did about the surprising reveal of the alter and Tara showing up to help Kate that it might end up being the Princess. I'm glad it wasn't, but I thought that was the way it was going.

Anonymous said...

Guys--it's called angry, make up sex coupled with the fact that he's just found out his wife had an affair he can't hold her accountable for. What a feeling of impotence and spurring a need for reconnection and reclaiming the sexual part of their relationship. It wasn't making love it was just angry sex.

zmerkle said...

JWIII: "Y'all do realize Mimi says 'All that rain will fuck up the hard wood.' Jeeze, that's harsh for young children."

Buckle.