Category Archives: TV reviews

United States of Tara, Season One

Showtime.

Synopsis: A suburban mom with Dissociative Identity Disorder (formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder) tries to live a normal life without her meds, learn to understand her alters with her family’s help, and remember the traumatic incident that may have led her personality to “split” during college.

Watch this show for these two reasons:

1. Toni Collette

It’s pretty incredible to watch Collette transition from one identity to another on-screen. The viewer never knows which of her alters will emerge, and a sense of joyful anticipation (and sometimes dread) occurs whenever Tara slumps her head a bit, closes her eyes, and then reawakens as foul-mouthed Vietnam vet Buck, seductive 80s teen T, or 50s housewife Alice. Her amazing ability to create distinct voices and physicalities for her alters, as well as her beautiful rendering of the strengths and insecurities of Tara, makes Collette consistently exciting to watch. Plus, she’s a handsome woman.

2. This warmhearted family

Hands down, this is the most loving, supportive, resilient, and healthy families-with-teen-kids I have EVER seen on a movie or TV screen. Mom Tara, dad Max, teen daughter Kate, teen son Marshall, and mom’s sister Charmaine. I am totally in love with the nascently gay son, played by Keir Gilchrist. He dresses for school in shirts, ties, and sweater vests with no irony, adores early 20th century films, and discusses literary tropes with ease. He also falls head-over-heels in love with the hunky son of a local evangelical pastor. Gilchrist’s face is angelic, and his physical awkwardness is supremely adorable. Also, I love the fact that Marshall’s gayness is a total non-issue for this family. Kate is also adorable and wide-eyed, though I am much less interested in her side plot of weird love for her manager at her dumpy chain restaurant job.

Usually when I see high-functioning families on TV or in the movies, it just repulses me; I start measuring my own childhood dysfunction against it, filing it away as completely unbelievable and losing faith and interest in the plot. Though it is hard to believe that any family in which a member has Dissociative Identity Disorder could ever function this well, somehow the sharp writing and the warmth and chemistry of the ensemble cast make me root for them, believe in them, and keep watching.

Season One available on DVD via Netflix. Season Two On Demand until October for subscribers. DVD not yet available.

Advertisements