The United States Of Tara: Pilot (series premiere)
by Brett Love, posted Jan 19th 2009 4:34AM
(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.