Much of the appeal of Showtime's new series Web Therapy lies in its simplicity. By creating a show that takes place only at desks and on desktops, it allows for characters to take center stage in a way they rarely get to on other TV formats. So, while the show itself still could use some tonal shifts and better jokes, it’s definitely making optimal use of it talented cast as it eases into its second episode.
Hot on the heels of launching her new “modality” — a favorite word for web therapist Fiona — the budding entrepreneur checks back in with her first clients. She goes first to her most potentially lucrative patient, Jerome who has brought to her attention a cartoonishly Freudian dilemma: his girlfriend’s lesbian parents just realized their sperm donor was his own dad. The news he may be half-siblings with girlfriend has rattled him and immediately put dollar signs in Fiona’s eyes thanks to the likelihood it could help investors take interest in her new business.
Guest star Rashida Jones plays Jerome’s girlfriend, Hayley, and brings along the warm humor that’s made her a star in her own right on NBC’s Parks and Recreation and The Office. Alongside Jerome, Hayley details their happy and very modern meeting — she sold a Bakelite Buddha on eBay and he left “just lovely, lovely feedback” — until she’s cut off by Fiona explaining the need to immediately fax back paperwork back that allows them to be recorded to further help in “franchising this modality of therapy.”
There’s a quick appearance by Fiona’s IT helper Kamal (played by 30 Rock’s Maulik Pancholy) who can barely offer tech support before she’s assumed every instruction is actually an overt sexual innuendo. “Plug it in the hole. Go grab your cord,” Fiona repeats back to his stunned face. With that, we remember our lead is not only a crafty businesswoman intent on selling out her patients for a buck but a bit randy, too.
Perhaps this all stems from the obvious sexual distance between Fiona and her husband Kip, who chances upon her still-turned-on computer camera in their shared office late at night and asks, “Do you look at yourself all day long?” Of course the answer is yes. Also, there are hints to Kip’s inability or, rather, unwillingness to fund Fiona’s start-up without much of an explanation as to why such a well-to-do lawyer wouldn’t hand over the cash to his wife.
When Fiona meets with her meek, former boss Richard for another of her branded three-minute sessions, we learn more about her poorly disguised jealousy over him moving on from their secret office romance to another woman. Without cracking her veneer, Fiona readily admits to showing up to same restaurant Richard and his new girlfriend were eating at, inviting herself to join their table, feeding him berries by hand, putting chewing gum in the girlfriend’s hair, and calling her “fatty.” It’s all absurd and played just as over-the-top as it sounds, but the charming chemistry between batty Fiona and the flame she refuses to acknowledge keeps it afloat.
When it’s finally revealed there's flatly no way Jerome and Hayley are actually siblings, Fiona breaks entirely from the role of a therapist to chastise them both for essentially foiling her business strategy. But, in a flash, she veers to the other end of the professionalism spectrum and delivers just the tiniest smidge of real therapy in the heat of the moment. Somehow, she receives apologies from them both and convinces them to revert back to their now-defunct scandalous siblings-dating story in order to help keep her business prospects on board.
Fiona may come across as bumbling and flustered as any character Kudrow has cook-up, but she also retains a certain, specific charm that pops up here and there. It’s particularly when all of her hot air and bluster leads to actual moments of rational therapy or keyhole glimpses at her as an actual person trying to run a ridiculous business from behind a computer camera. While these are only born out of an innate desire to further her own bottom line and personal prospects, it lends enough credence to Fiona’s shoddy business to keep on trucking so long as she can dole them out from time to time.
- "Bubble bath night" scheduled on the calendar between Kip and Fiona seems to have fallen to the wayside and neither side seems too eager to hop back in that tub.
- We’re definitely being set-up to meet Fiona’s wealthy mother who is described by Kip as “the richest woman I know.”
- Are “phantom feelings” in any way a real psychological term?
- A search for "Bakelite Buddha" on eBay turned up nothing! But there are these killer Buddha-shredding-guitar baseball caps!