Let’s talk televisuals..

United States of Tara, Series One, Showtime

When approaching mental illness or personality disorders, it usually is dark and filled with tragedy from Sybil to Girl, Interrupted. But Showtime’s United States of Tara

United States of Tara

Who do you think you're talking to?

is coming from a whole other direction. Don’t get me wrong..it’s still dark but with a thick layer of humour over the top of it.

Tara is a housewife with two teenage children (Kate and Marshall) and a loving husband (Max). She suffers from Dissociative Disorder giving her four alternative personalities that come out of their shells when she is stressed. They are Buck (dirty, beer swilling, red neck type, trucker), Alice (1950’s housewife who enjoys making cakes and trying to make babies with Max), T (teenage, highly sexed and energised, cheeky, bad girl) and Gimme (who we don’t know much about except that they like to pee on Tara’s Dad and are vile).

The first episode was quite disappointing, nevertheless it was easy to watch. You are spoonfed the introduction to the storyline in the first episode through dialogue that leaves no stone unturned. And her alternative personalities seem more like caricatures than characters.

But as the series progresses you become more used to the alternates and pay more attention to how the rest of the family are coping; how it affects their relationships with each other and with Tara. And as this happens, the dialogue gets funnier, wittier but also deeper. There are many raw moments that compel you to watch. For instance, Charmaine (Tara’s sister) has always resented Tara for having all the attention from their parents. But when Charmaine begins to realise how it can humiliate and ruin Tara’s life as well as everyone elses, there is a new bond.

Her grounded husband Max always takes care of her and supports her. He is the rock that their teenagers come up against with their moaning and outrage at their mother. And he is also the balancing calming force to combine with his mad wife. Kate, their daughter is the least accepting of her mother but is also in her mid-teens and so rebel and experiment are key to her anyway. If you know a teenager that isn’t appalled by their parents, you should take them to a doctor. Finally, there is their sweet, gay son, Marshall, who is in his early teens and much more accepting of his mother. Well….until T decides to cause havoc in his love life. But I won’t spoil that surprise for you.

With executive- producer Steven Spielberg and Juno writer Cody Dablo, it’s clear that this series has a great team behind them. And the middle of the show is filled with witty one-liners, credible characters and complex relationships for you to get a kick out of. Just a shame that they start and end USoT on the wrong foot.

Series two starts March 22, 2010. Here is a trailer for all – enjoy.