TV Backtalk: “United States of Tara”. Long Live The King!!

Though it wasn’t the season premiere or even finale, I felt COMPELLED to article up the latest and GREATEST episode of “United States of Tara”. First off, before the die-hard fans attack me and announce the Season 1 finale at the bowling alley as the personalities meet on screen for the first time as the quintessential “US of T” episode, I will concede that it was and still is truly brilliant and poignant drama. However, there was just something about today’s ep: “Wheels” that got me excited and flying to the keyboard to let you mo’s know how I felt about it. Short version: I.Died.

The true testament of a drama in my mind is: does it make me cry. Yes, I do enjoy a good laugh out loud- which of course this show offers from time to time- but, when I get red eyed and search feverishly around to make sure no one has caught me in a moment of emotional exposure, THAT’S when I know a drama has done its job. And, yesterday, Monday, April 18th, “United States of Tara’s” 4th Episode of Season 3 did its job. For those needing a bit of catch up on today’s episode, all you need to truly know that happened was that Tara’s gay son learns about the wonders and horrors of threesomes as she battles to take back control of her mind from her “alters” and finds herself at the mercy of her illness even when she feels her strongest. Combined with a killer soundtrack and epic acting, I was a completely baby by the closing credits.

I won’t harp on the plot line too much in case you haven’t seen it and don’t want it ruined or in case you have and like me have already re-watched it (twice) and don’t need to hear a recap… instead, I’ll just comment on the two main plot lines: quelle surprise that as a gay man I choose to include Marshall’s story to the exclusion of sis’ obvious eventual decision to take to the skies :). So, what did we think about the gay orgy? First off, so not an orgy I know ha. But, for a small town boy and his too-big-for-his-britches sassy blond boyfriend, adding in “the other gay” kid from school into their playtime was definitely a milestone. Though I don’t pretend to be an artsy enough gay to get or even want to research the reference made to the French cinema of yore gay threesome they quote, I will say that I loved the perfectly captured awkwardness of the boys’ first attempt to fumble multiples in the night.

Led by the much more experienced Lionel (played to a tee by Michael J. Willett- the type of gay we all have in our group), the two brunettes attempt to fake interest in one another as the selfish blond gets his way and lives his fantasy of staring the show. I don’t know if it was just me, but I laughed my ass off thinking of how true this moment was and how many times I’ve seen it played out: be it with friends, with me as the brown haired follower and hell, with me as the blond. It was a cute but honest moment that really captured “new gay” better than a lot of other stuff out there has previously tried to.

Gay themes aside, clearly this episode- and show of course- is all about Tara and her many personalities. Season 3 seen her take on a new adversary in the form of her Abnormal Psych professor played by the always witty Eddie Izzard. Challenging her claim to having Dissociative Identity Disorder (which, to get “I know what I’m talking about” on your asses, actually happens time to time in the psychological world by even its most educated), the prof refuses to give Tara a break as she deals with her sister’s sudden birth and of course her alters in the face of an up-and-coming psych test. What I love about this show is how much Tara gets beaten down by nearly every aspect of her life, but she pushes on 100% and never gives up. As her sister refuses to let Tara even touch her new baby and as her son starts asking if the dad is always gonna put up with her insanity, Tara buckles down, sucks up the pain and seems to enter into her mind as she takes on the other personalities and holds a meeting of sorts, the likes of which we’ve never seen.

As this season has seen the alters attempt a detente and “agreement” to try to work together to support Tara through school, we’ve been enjoying a lot of green screen shots of multiple Toni Collettes taking each other on. Today’s was the ultimate though as even Gimme and Chicken were invited to the grand table meet (under some sexy and dramatic lighting simultaneously reminiscent of both Heaven itself and of course Bravo’s “Top Design” ;), with Tara heading up the meeting. It takes a humourous and positive tone [SPOILER ALERT] as Tara denounces the selfish behaviour of the other personalities and offers them the chance to write down what they need from her to stay happy and in control so our protagonist doesn’t lose herself 4 times a day anymore. A grandiose speech- which I won’t give away as you MUST watch this on your own- is given where we finally get a direct reference to the intriguing title: “United States of Tara” which is referenced brilliantly as Tara declares the division within herself over and that she alone shall reign as king… SUDDENLY, she (and we really) wake up to find she has completely lost it during the exam we forgot all about and has written furiously all over herself and her table with the seemingly demented demands from all the alters, eating pens and braiding her hair childishly along the way.

As Jeremy Messersmith’s “A Girl, A Boy and A Graveyard” takes over (and you can BET I’m downloading that as we speak), we find that Tara is not at all in control and in fact is at her seeming “craziest” and loneliest as her judgmental professor stares dumbfounded at what we as the viewer can only imagine was an insane past two hours as Tara lost all control and gave in to every alter at once… Zooming in to the 10-second ago triumphant and self-declared “King”, Tara instead swells up and succumbs to tears as we see right into her pain and see a truly lost and hurting woman. Pleading: “I’m crazy, I’m fucking crazy”, I was wholeheartedly moved to tears myself and literally found myself yelling that I fucking love this show. Below I’ve posted a trailer for this current season as there’s scenes in it from today’s episode and gives you the best idea of the show’s current direction, and I’ve found Messersmith’s song for you to enjoy and maybe sniffle a little to as I am right now. Hope you liked the episode as much as I did: I’m watching this show ’til the end of time if I can!