Tuesday, March 29, 2011

United States of Tara Recap: The Head Trip Returns

Toni Collette as Tara Gregson

God, I hope I'm not the only one who's excited over this, because, dear reader, I have made my selection: Tara shall be the show that I will be recapping here for the next twelve weeks or so. It's rather perfect, actually: a dramatic comedy with short seasons on cable. And honestly, I've written about Showtime babies so much in the past, it's only fitting that I return to the source of so many of my favorite shows slash blog fodder.

Season 3 premiered last night and quickly caught us all up to speed on the various goings-on since Charmaine's non-wedding last season and however long it took for her pregnancy to reach false labor stages. Kate is now moved out of her parents' house... and into her aunt's. Neil is in Charmaine's life now, but in a much less glamorous capacity than he would want, which became more obvious than ever when she coldly rejected his earnest marriage proposal in front of her whole family. Marshall and Lionel are together but aren't putting any labels on it, because according to Lionel, "'boyfriend' is just another one of those gross words, like 'vagina' or 'love.'" I can usually pick out within minutes the episodes written by Diablo Cody, and "...youwillnotwin..." was replete with the too-clever dialogue and cynicism that characterizes her writing. The episode title is in reference to a creepy yet intriguing moment when one of Tara's possibly heretofore unknown alters briefly hijacks her essay on somatization. Why is Tara writing an essay on somatization? Because this season appears to be all about her unfulfilled wishes, both conscious and unconscious: to find her newly discovered half-brother and to finish her undergraduate degree, which conveniently requires her to take a course inwhat else?abormal psychology. Her professor is a curmudgeonly academic type played perfectly (and, dare I say, sexily?) by the hilarious Eddie Izzard, who, according to the sneak peek for the next episode, does not believe in dissociative identity disorder (DID). Interesting.

In the episode's most surprising twist, it was also revealed that Tara had attempted suicide at least twice in college, prompting her to drop out in her last semester. But if the hijacked essay scene is any indication, it was most likely not Tara who wanted to check out early but one of her other personalities. So who is this suicidal (homicidal?) alter, then? Her existing alters have historically been pretty protective of her, so my money's on one we haven't been acquainted with yet.

But Tara is not the only one with problems. In fact, all the main characters seem to be at some sort of impasse this season. Kate can't find a real job with just a GED and a tawdry internet past, Marshall can't get his spawn-of-Satan boyfriend to commit, Max can't retain his business clientele, Charmaine can't seem to manage being an "independent fucking woman," and Neil can't seem to abandon his shrew of a pregnant baby mama in her time of need.

Right now I am feeling very excited about college student Tara and her future interactions with her psych professor. I expect his skepticism regarding her condition will provide a new kind of challenge for Tara and hopefully some insight into herself. I also anticipate some awkward yet sweet moments between Charmaine and Neil, perhaps even a slight cut in her narcissism now that she's on the verge of motherhood. And is it just me, or is it looking like Kate might be back in the Barnaby's uniform pretty soon?

What other thoughts or predictions do you have after this first episode? And who's with me in rooting for the quick dissolution of the Marshall/Lionel union?


  1. Great first episode and nice recap. I LOVE Eddie Izzard as her professor and I'm actually slightly rooting for the Marshmellow Spawn of Satan union.(Not really sure why.)Just be careful Marshall!
    Now Charmaine...sigh...why can't she just love Neil?!?! I'm torn between wanting Neil to be with her or having some self-respect and moving on. You're too good for her Neil!

    Best line of the show, when Charmaine shouts about being an independent woman. Ha!

  2. So, thanks for turning me onto this show. My mind is so overloaded after watching all three seasons in one week, that I don't think I have much to contribute here.

    I love Eddie Izzard, I'm so pleased he's on the show...and using his posh accent (not his nasty commoner accent he uses over here).

    You know I adore a good committed love story (get it committed--little bit of psycho-pun for you there). Max and Tara are a beautiful couple. Particularly Max and all his unconditional love and beauty and wisdom and strength.........drool.

    I do like their kids, but the first season creeped me out with the statutory rape that was going on and not addressed. I know it's the midwest, but I still don't understand why Kate didn't use the fact that her boss was over 18 and she was a 15-year-old when she filed the sexual harassment complaint.

    Call me old fashioned, but I don't like watching kids screw around in their teens. I didn't like it when it started with Dawson's Creek and I don't like it now. And I certainly don't like watching young men solicit sex in a park. WTF? Lionel is damaged, why is no one addressing that fact? He made like one comment about his mommy not caring about him and that was it. I hope the show is subtly explaining to us that marginalising the gay population pushes them into high risk behaviour. That's what I'm taking away from it, because I like this show.