Tonight's episode of United States of Tara opened, as did the premiere, with Tara addressing a camera, discussing her point of view of sharing her brain with three other personalities. I enjoyed learning one of the drawbacks of having alters--picking up after them: "It's like hosting a kegger in your brain and you're passed out cold while everyone else is just trashing the joint." Then Tara had a family meeting to discuss the effects of having T. and Buck stopping by, which is a little confusing to me--is the family used to Tara's personalities, or are they still getting used to it? I felt like I got both senses from the scene. On the one hand, Marshall enjoys that Tara means the family gets to be interesting, but Katie says "It's weird"--not the personalities, it seemed, but the talking.
Then again, Katie seems to hate everything. I find it so hard to focus on United States of Tara as an ensemble television show when Tara's daughter, Katie, is such an awful little bitch. After Katie slammed down Tara's efforts to address the effects of her Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), after Katie pissed on Tara’s attempts to talk to her about her personal life (after begging Tara to help her take her boots off, and then walking about in her underwear), after Katie pretty much told Max that she doesn't love her own mother , after Katie's "let me shock you by telling you what a big slut I am" speech, I was glad Alice, Tara's third alter, filled Katie's mouth with soap.
The female characters in the series so far in general run the gamut from vague to slippery to extremely irritating. For instance Charmaine, Tara's sister, seems to find DID bullshit yet hawks an herbal supplement system (or is that Alanis Morissette-type irony?) And the other school moms who met Tara at the mall seemed insensitive but not mean, bad people that would necessitate Charmaine to protest "You just stand there and take it" when she’s a much bigger bitch to Tara. Yet the other women's "cruelty" seems to be as traumatic as Katie's boyfriend roughing her up, thus necessitating Tara's switch of personalities. And don't get me started on Marshall's little thrift store friend: "He's got a BA from a state school." OK, you allegedly go to a public school in Kansas, so sit your ass down.
I get tripped up in these characters that irk me, which keeps me from focusing on Alice, perhaps my favorite alter so far. On the surface she looks like a bad 1950's housewife stereotype (what with the aprons and the racism and the pressing the dungarees) but she kicks some ass, actually standing up to Katie, standing up to her son's teacher (played by Arrested Development's Tony Hale, strangely in a bullying type role) and acknowledging Marshall's bedwetting problems. It's easy to see Alice as a menacing character, especially as she plots to gain control of Tara's mind and body, but then again, it's nice to actually see someone on this show with some balls. Tara's attempts to be the cool mom clearly aren't working and moreover she seems less well-defined than the alters. And only Alice thus far was able to get Katie to calm down, too--her conciliatory method of putting together a scrapbook for Katie worked much better than Tara's attempts to talk. I don’t know if it’s a major metaphor that Tara is less defined than her alternate personalities, but for a TV series, it’d be nice to know who my protagonist IS, even a fraction of her.
--I did like the line about Katie not buying menthol cigarettes because she thinks "they're racist."
--Orel Gershenov? Really, Diablo Cody? How about just naming him Richard Semen?
--"Absolutely no backdoor shyness." Call me old-fashioned but I think everyone on this planet can benefit from at least a modicum of backdoor shyness.
--If you're so cool that you feel unselfconscious enough to proclaim "I think I know my literary boners" out loud in a high school class, there is no reason for you to wet the bed.
--Patton Oswalt! Discuss.