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Tara’s States Unite

April 4, 2011

Alice and Shoshanna discussing Tara's mental state. Photo courtesy of Showtime.


During the first season United States of Tara, I wanted to watch it, but doing so felt like homework. Despite its pedigree, I let the episodes sit in my DVR waiting and waiting like they were patients at All Saints’ hospital. Yes, All Saints, the setting of that other Showtime series starring a well-known actress in distress – despite being in a comedy series – that debuted the same night and has been working in tandem with UST since: Nurse Jackie. Now Jackie, I loved it immediately and couldn’t wait for the next week’s development. Tara… poor Tara, she just sat there in my DVR… waiting.

Season two came along and, luckily, I had finally watched all of the premiere season. I knew Tara (Toni Collette) and all of her alters and was ready to dive headfirst into new storylines and see where they took me. And again, the series just seemed to go at a slow pace for me. It was good, but just like the grape medicine my mama gave me when I was a kid, it didn’t excite me at all. Again, they piled up and I watched them all at once. This time, however, watching them in one (well, maybe 2-3) sittings helped out immeasurably. I enjoyed the story and was anxious for season 3.

And, last Monday night… there it was. Showtime. Channel 223 on NYC’s TimeWarner Cable. Tara and Buck and Alice and T and Chicken and Shoshanna and Gimme. They were all back, in rare form. As is the entire family. Husband Max (John Corbett, coming into his own in the series) takes center stage as the man who loves – yet is torn apart – by a wife with DID. Kate (Brie Larson) is trying to make her way in the world and finally finds a job that suits her. Marshall (Keir Gilchrist) grows up and experiences love. Sister Charmaine (Rosemarie DeWitt) and baby daddy Neil (Patton Oswalt) bicker, yet clearly love each other as they await their new baby.

This season the show takes a major turn to the left (and to a darker, darker side), with Tara going back to college and working with her psych professor (the incomparable Eddie Izzard), trying to work through the layers of her being. As someone who doesn’t believe in DID, Izzard’s Dr. Jack Hattaras provides the “are you for real with that bullshit?” that many viewers wonder as they watch the show. Watching him study Tara is amazing. We get a better picture of each alter than we ever had, as well as the introduction of a new, terrifying alter. Scenes between Collette and Izzard are some of the best in the history of the show.

As the season progresses, you will see why I started this post with that single word paragraph: Wow. It is, by far, the series’ most successful – creatively – season to date. By the time the end rolls around, I was left shocked, disturbed, hopeful and anxious. We’ll discuss more as the episodes unfold, but prepare yourselves. I warned you.


Below, a snippet from tonight’s episode.


Official UNITED STATES OF TARA Series Site

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