Monday, February 2, 2009

Tara Tara Tara

I'm watching The United States of Tara, third episode.

This is THE new show of the season. This is the new Weeds, the new Mad Men, the new Six Feet Under, the show you'll all be renting next season to watch the first season, because you read it here first, and then soon you read it everywhere, and then everyone at work was talking about it, and then it won a bunch of awards, and then you were behind. So just set your DVR to record it now. It's not one of those shows where you have to watch every episode to "get it."

There are about a thousand things I like about this show. Here are a few:
1. The premise. When I was a kid I couldn't get enough of split personality books and movies (Sybil, I Never Promised You a Rose Garden). This show is about a woman with associative identity disorder, which is, apparently, a controversial diagnosis. Who cares? It's intriguing in a magical sort of way. Who wouldn't want to have more than one personality? (Or "alters"--the clinical term). With more than one personality you have someone else to blame for all stupid shit you do, someone with courage to chew out people you hate, someone with unrepressed sexual desires and lots of self-confidence, which--if you just could just get it through your head--is really all it takes to get laid as often as you want.

2. Toni Collette. She played, of course the quirplucky (invented word: quirky plus plucky) heroine from Muriel's Wedding. But she's becoming the go-to actress for the sympathetic, harried housewife. Her character in its unaltered state is sort of like the character she played in Little Miss Sunshine. But she really chews up the alters: a prissy, but supremely bitchy housewife, a truck driver dude, and a teen-age nymphomaniac.

4. ALL of the minor characters. The husband played by John Corbett, dreamboat from Sex and the City and (remember? god, you're old) Northern Exposure. The kids are fascinating, especially the young precocious, gay son (lots of signals, but the kid's not out yet--he's 13) who gets all the best lines. The family is sweet, because they all tolerate their mother's illness. They are totally embarrassed by her, but at the end of the day they stand by their mom.

4. The writing:
Marshall (13 years old, precocious, trying out for the school musical, Grease) : I can't believe they're mounting such a trite production. I wanted to do No Exit.
Petula (His friend, another prococious teen age girl who has a crush on him): Even something mainstream like Miller or god forbid Wilder. But sex crazed teenagers-it's not even good on an ironic level.
Marshall: (dreamily looking at another student): Is that Jason Moraz auditioning?
Petulia: No I think he's just on crew.
Marshall: I always assumed he was dumb, based on the whole Santana fetish, but his take on Roshomon in film class last week was pretty good. . .

5. The Showtime gloss: They do a great job with production values like art direction and music. It's slick but it looks real, and there's the de riguer indie soundtrack.

So: watch it. Don't wait. Be ahead of the curve. And embrace your inner Tara.


Anonymous said...

I'm loving it - just watched 3 episodes today - weee! Who needs fresh air? Robin

Anna said...

I desperately wish someone would post good English subtitles for the show :( I mean a native speaker, not those apparently deaf people who make the subtitles now :D

I'm translating it into Russian (we're dubbing it) and it's awful.
Just think - they put "When did you know Iza?" instead of "I wanted "No Exit"". Thanks for quoting this btw, now I know what he said. ;)