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October 25, 2014

The United States Of Tara: Pilot (series premiere)

by Brett Love, posted Jan 19th 2009 4:34AM
United States Of Tara
(S01E01) My first reaction to seeing the Tara premiere was that this one is going to be very hit and miss with viewers. Diablo Cody doesn't have a long list of credits, but she certainly does have her own unique style. If it's a style you like, you'll be able to fall right in with this one. If you don't ... yeah ... this one could grate on you. Even if that is the case though, I would encourage you to hang in there and give the show a little time. Underneath the occasionally too clever dialog, the Gregson's story has a heart.

That part of the story comes across well in the first episode as you watch Max, Marshall, and Kate deal with T and Buck. (If you haven't seen it, Joel posted the episode last week.) It's clear that this is not the ideal that any of them would ask for, but they are doing the best they can, because it's family. Marshall's line to Tara is a good example. Because of her, they get to be interesting. Clearly, it's not the kind of interesting he really wants, as we see with the music to camouflage the shit fit. But he knows what his mother needs to hear.

Where the pilot missed just a bit was in the setup. We're dropped right in the middle of this world where T appearing is almost an afterthought to the whole family, with no real explanation as to why things are that way. There is one quick reference from Kate about how she likes it that Tara is off the medication, but with such a crazy situation, a little more exposition would have been welcome.

As for the writing, it's a little overdone for me. Sure, there are some great lines, like T in Kate's closet: "Dude, I've been digging around in your closet for an hour, and I can't fucking get to Narnia." Ultimately, though, there is just too much of that. By the time Marshall called his aunt a hose beast, I'd had my fill. The thing is, the show doesn't need it.

The story is good enough to stand on its own, without being dressed up in all the fluff. Max summed it up best when talking with Charmaine. "We're all angry at the crazy. I've been living with this for seventeen years." That's the hook. It is a crazy situation, and I want to see more of how they all manage to come together to live with it. It's early, and hard to say what is to come, but there is enough there to warrant a return visit.

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Angel

was a direct quote from the movie.. not an opinion

January 29 2009 at 1:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Angel

I think its a great show..

I'm from O.P. and like how they mention of other close by citys on both sides of state line in normal convo as we do here.

January 29 2009 at 1:34 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Susa

What I saw in the first episode, is that Mr. Spielberg is using "sex, sex, and more sex", to sell a series. I hope that Ms. Cody will choose to omit the over sexualized, soap opera aspect that pervaded the first episode, and will pay more attention to the causes of Dissociative Identity Disorder.

At least with the massive number of anti-Tara emails that Showtime obviously has received from DID sufferers, they have included an "informative" video from Dr. Kluft; however, even in his short documentary, he did not address the magnitude of the horrific childhood sexual abuse that causes Dissociative Identity Disorder. The so called "consultant" that the writer, Diablo Cody is conferring with, had DDNOS, not DID. Apples and oranges... sigh.

Imagine for a moment, if you can: A new Showtime series called, "The Deformed State of Tara" - a COMEDY about a girl who confronts comedic situations in her every day life revolving around her dealing with her inability to climb stairs, her sexual encounters, and her comedic experiences with people staring at her scarred and deformed face and arms. (As a child, her parents had physically abused her so intensely, that her repeatedly broken bones resulted in a leg amputation, and the repeated burns the parents inflicted on her arms and face resulted in grotesque scarring which made her face appear as almost inhuman.)

This scenario is NO DIFFERENT than creating a "COMEDY" about a person who suffers from a disorder caused by repeated, early childhood RAPE AND INCEST. One might say that the results of childhood physical abuse are apparent to outsiders, but the results of childhood sexual abuse resulting in Dissociative Identity Disorder are ALSO readily apparent to others in public. Raping young children is NOT comedic.

January 21 2009 at 8:38 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Susa's comment
Kokopuff

I'm pretty sure that this series is a dramedy, with more drama so far than comedy neccessarily.
Also, from what I've researched, though childhood sexual abuse is a common cause for DID, it is not the ONLY cause.
Personally, I enjoyed the show and I think that it portrays an interesting story of a family who has learned to deal with someone they are so close to suffering from this mental disorder. Whether or not all the details are completely accurate (and come on, this is TV, what do you expect).
Toni's (and infact more or less the whole cast's) performance was top-notch. And though the show isn't perfect yet, I can see it improve over the next few episodes.

January 25 2009 at 10:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
YouFaceTheTick

Didn't suck but it was pretty bad. The trucker was atrocious.

January 21 2009 at 2:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Key Rick

I wasn't inspired to watch regularly. John Corbett deserves better that this excuse to see Toni Collette in bikini panties and pretend it's important he refuse her alternate personality's advances 'cause she thinks she's 15? Please. I'm sure this isn't supposed to be a reflection of real people with this disorder; however, to me, Corbett's character's the only one who kinda endeared himself.

January 19 2009 at 8:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
GerryofNorVA

This prolly works for the oh-so-small demographic it's aimed at -- the social-fringe that pay a premium for Showtime to see this type of let's-be-outrageous-some-more drama. How did an idea about a schitzoid single mother even get green-lit ?! Aren't there hundreds of more deserving storylines to fund ? Separately, yes, give Toni props for a frenetic pace/style of acting, that's definitely gotta be tough to do ep after ep. This series was apparently made for a particular reason or purpose but snagging my viewership isn't in the cards.

January 19 2009 at 8:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
matchbox1966

you're dropping the F-bomb in a review?? hello!! shouldn't this site be edited??

and you didn't mention Toni Collette at all in your "review"??

someone needs a conference with their boss.

January 19 2009 at 6:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Suntzu

Once again smart dialogue takes the back seat to flashing pictures and bells and whistles. The show doesn't need it?? Every show needs it! God forbid someone watch the show not get a joke and pick up a book to find out why it's funny. Shows like Firefly, West Wing, Studio 60, Wonderfalls, and very soon Scrubs. All cast aside because people are too stupid to get it. You also failed to mention how good the cast was together. How good Toni Collete does with her multiple personalities. Was it a little too deep for you??? Well open a book!!

January 19 2009 at 12:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dave

As a husband of somebody with mental illness, I really enjoyed it. I remarked to my wife that this goes to show that things in our life could be worse. I liked how they dealt with being "Angry at the crazy" and coming to acceptance with the illness and dealing with it.

January 19 2009 at 11:19 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
bkdealer

Loved it! Including the dialogue--otherwise it would be just another sitcom. Everyone in the cast is very good. It's good to see Toni Colette stretch and I'm always happy to see John Corbett (who will always be Chris in the Morning to me)

January 19 2009 at 10:36 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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