Category: United States of Tara

'United States of Tara': An alter pattern emerging?

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Whodunnit?  The family begins an investigation into which alter earned Tara her first restraining order by defacing the mural on ex-best friend Tiffany's wall.  Marshall and Kate watch the home videos Tara and her alters make while Tara and Max listen to Dr. Ocean diagnose the latest altercation.  Not only is a real friend a threat to the alters, it appears one of them wanted to be out in the world.  "Now my alters have alters," Tara says sarcastically. 

"Most women don't have a clue to how much (aggression) they're carrying," Dr. Ocean explains.  Minutes later, as Tara and Max discuss the graffiti, Max appears to disregard Tara's belief that someone else did the crime.  And just like that, it appears Tara stuffs her frustrating and aggression and T comes out to deal.  Can we start to detect a pattern in what triggers different alters? 

Charmaine and Max head out on a road trip to track down T, and Max keeps working on the clues.  When he asks Charmaine about Tara's roommate at boarding school, in the hope that someone might have been around "whenever whatever happened, happened," Charmaine can't quite recall the unusually tall roommate's name.  She does recall, however, that though Tara went to prep school, Charmaine went the public route.  "Don't know what I did wrong," she says with jealousy?  Anger?  Aggression?  "You didn't do anything wrong," Max tells her.  "Maybe."  Is Charmaine dropping a clue?  Was she involved in Tara's trauma?  Or is she, too, blocking something?  Or am I just trying too hard, hoping to see signs? 

What do you think?  What triggers the different alters to emerge? 

-- Rebecca Snavely

Photo: Showtime

'United States of Tara' renewed for second season

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Showtime has renewed "United States of Tara" for a second season, an announcement that comes after just four episodes have aired.

"Tara" stars Toni Collette as a wife and mother with multiple personalities, including a frisky teenage girl, a gruff middle-aged man and a perky, perfect housewife. Academy Award-winning screenwriter Diablo Cody devloped the series and executive produces alongside Steven Speilberg.

Production on the second season's 12 episodes will begin this summer for air in early 2010.

Network programming president Robert Greenblatt said the show is "a perfect fit for our premium brand, and we're thrilled that critics and audiences have responded to this groundbreaking show so well."

To date, "Tara" has drawn big ratings for the cable network, premiering well above the network's average (though just how well was up for some debate).

John Corbett and Rosemarie DeWitt also star in the series produced by Showtime Networks and Dreamworks Television. Justin Falvey, Darryl Frank and Alexa Junge also executive produce.

-- Denise Martin

Photo credit: Jordin Althaus / Showtime

'United States of Tara': Come out, come out wherever you are

Charmaine_tara_showtime_300_2 Was Tara's friendship with vivacious Vita-seller Tiffany ever believable?  Maybe Tara is hiding more from herself than what her alters are trying to protect, because she certainly seemed excited to have a shiny new girlfriend.  As she tells her therapist, she never had a friend like this, and she's nervous. 

It seems she has reason to be. Though the mural Tiffany commissioned is allowing Tara to explore her artistic side, the woman has a bowl full of inspirational rocks; Tara takes home "believe" when Tiffany tells her people always pick the rocks they need. 

Their girl talk moves from Tara and Max, sex and the alters to drinks with Tara's sister, Charmaine.  Charmaine tosses back a few drinks and watches her friend and Vita-sell mentor, Tiffany, give all her attention to Tara.  Tiffany is dying to meet one of the alters.  Drunk on cocktails and a lifetime of jealousy, Charmaine admits that she doesn't believe the reality of DID.  Tara looks caught in the cross-fire as Tiffany teases her alters, "Come out, come out wherever you are!"

And apparently one of the alters is listening.

Continue reading »

'United States of Tara': It's the little deets that make a big diff

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Even though Alice started off the episode, can of whipped cream in perfectly manicured hand, she thankfully disappeared quickly, and we got a healthy dose of Tara for most of the half-hour. John Corbett talked about his feelings for some of the characters in my interview at the "Tara" set. "They’re like people, there’s some I like, and some I wish would leave. There’s an old saying that some people liven up a party by not showing up, and there’s a couple of characters, I’m not going to name any of them ..."  He trailed off, then explained that he wants you, the viewer, to make up your own mind about the characters.  Have you?  Whom would you rather see come out?

As the painful screeching at Marshall's high school audition for "Grease" mirrored his awkward crush on jock Jason (Andrew Lawrence, of the TV Lawrence brothers), so now we dig in to Tara. Cut to the therapist's couch and our first session with Dr. Ocean.  Bantering between psych-speak and guy talk (landscaper Neil comparing Max's sex life to a cereal variety pack), the scene dissects Tara and Max's sex life, or lack thereof.

Tara continues to make it through her day with nary the need for an alter.  Was I the only one holding my breath as she consulted with Tiffany on a design scheme?  I thought for sure T or Buck was going to come out to deal with the vibrant Vita-sell salesperson when Tiffany states, in part, the general basis for us all to connect with the show and with Tara.  "I feel like we all have it, a little bit," Tiffany tells Tara after admitting she knows about her DID.  "I mean, over the course of a day, how many different women do you have to be?  'Work Tiffany' or 'sexy Tiffany' or 'dog-owner Tiffany.'  I mean, it's hard, right?"

And in one well-intentioned attempt at empathy, Tiffany belittles everything Tara actually suffers in living with DID.  "I was molested," Tiffany continues later.  "I'm stronger for it.  I'm actually glad it happened, in a way."

As Gene, Kate's new boss at Barnaby's restaurant points out, "It's the little deets that make a big diff."

Continue reading »

'United States of Tara': Will the strongest alter win?

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Buck may be willing to beat up miscreant boyfriends, but perfectly coifed and orderly Alice seems to think she is the dominant alter. She arrives after Tara and her sister Charmaine have a brief run-in with a couple of PTA moms at the mall. The women, dripping with curiosity, scorn and pity, comment on Tara's troubles and her inability to fulfill her motherly duties at the charity bake sale. Donna Reed wanna-be Alice to the rescue. 

Things at home haven't been going well either. At a family summit, Kate revealed a less than enthusiastic response to the new openness about mom's alters, which seems a little more realistic for a teenage daughter, over her seeming acceptance of "T" in the first episode. We learn that Marshall, unusually sensitive and precocious for a high school teen, provoked his English teacher, Mr. Girshnov, played by "Arrested Development's" Tony Hale, by comparing the literary metaphor of a walking stick to an erection. When his teacher challenged him, Marshall's mouthy reply landed Max in a parent-teacher conference. (Did anyone else cheer at the site of "Buster" on screen?  Please, please make an "Arrested Development" movie. And give Mr. Girshnov more "Tara" time.)

Thus, when Alice stops by the charity bake sale at school with a Martha Stewart-inspired cake, her timing is perfect to pop in on the parent-teacher conference between Max and Mr. Girshnov. Max visibly stiffens as Alice takes a seat next to him. 

But does Alice really have all the answers? While Max was getting nowhere, she delves straight to the heart of the matter, Mr. Girshnov's own self-esteem issues that he's taking out on the "weird" kid in class. "May I call you by your first name?" Alice asks the obviously uncomfortable Mr. Girshnov.  "Oral," he replies.  "Mr. Girshnov, it's time to start loving Oral," Alice tells him in her saccharine-sweet voice. 

Max seems impressed, Marshall grateful and Kate sullen as they eat out as a family. Alice speaks for all the alters when she declares that "Tara is not equipped to manage this family at the moment. We've all come to a consensus, and I think you need me right now." The next moment she's telling Kate that Tara's pregnancy with her at 19 was a hardship, calls her a graceless ingrate and then attacks Kate in the ladies' room, trying to wash her mouth out with hand soap. Kate's relationship with Tara, T, Buck and Alice takes difficult mother-daughter relationships to new levels of intricacy that could make for great drama.

Unitedstatesoftarainsert_2At home, Max clearly defines the alters as different from Tara when he asks Alice, "Why did you feel the need to sanitize my kid's mouth, anyway?" After denied the undeniable joy of ironing creases into Max's jeans, Alice tries to seduce him with the line every father of teens wants to hear: "Don't you want to make a baby?"

At Episode 2, we're just starting to get an understanding for the complex and comedic sides of this show. Will Alice be around more than the others? As she told Marshall, "Someday, if everything goes the way I'm hoping, I'll be here all the time. Won't that be fun?" 

— Rebecca Snavely

(Photo: Toni Collette. Credit: Showtime.)

'United States of Tara': Getting to know you ... and you ... and you

"Oh, no, 'Juno'-speak," I thought as soon as Tara opened her mouth as teenager "T."  Though not a fan of the first 10 minutes of Diablo Cody's Oscar-winning film, after a down-to-earth, could-be-my-best-friend phone interview with Cody, I was ready to let go and move on.  But not ready for her new show to be full of the same cadences and teen-speak. 

Thankfully, after a few minutes, "United States of Tara" (or maybe me) relaxed and found its pace and voice.  Or maybe it's that Toni Collette could convince me of anything.  The pilot episode introduced us to two of the other three (known) faces of Tara.  Watching "Buck" beat up Kate's boyfriend was worth any and all teen/T discomfort.  I can already tell that I'm going to have a hard time connecting with T. 

I have no problem connecting with John Corbett's character, Max, though it's hard to separate him from Aidan Shaw in "Sex and the City." Is Tara who he married after Carrie broke his heart?  Corbett has perfected the art of the long-suffering, supportive husband.  But there's drama inherent in any marriage, and especially one where the husband never knows who he's going to get.

Could some of that drama come from Rosemarie DeWitt as Charmaine, Tara's sister?  Her back story is rife with jealousy, sibling rivalry and disbelief about Tara's DID (that's dissociative identity disorder).  And did I pick up on a flirtatious vibe with brother-in-law Max in their scene in the garage?   After seeing DeWitt in "Rachel Getting Married," I'm officially a fan and looking forward to what she'll do with her "Tara" character.

What do you think?  Did the pilot get you hooked?  Is Charmaine making a move for her sister's husband?  If you didn't catch it on Showtime, check it out online here.

-- Rebecca Snavely

Related:

Set visit: You never know which 'Tara' you're going to get

Hollywood A-Z

FIRST LOOK: 'United States of Tara' premiere episode

Toni Collette stars in Showtime's new original series "The United States of Tara."  Playing a wife and mother with dissociative identity disorder, Collette goes between four personalities, which include a pot-smoking teenager and a man with a penchant for beer and motorcycles.

Created by Steven Spielberg and developed by Oscar-winning screenwriter Diablo Cody, "The United States of Tara" premieres on Showtime on Jan. 18 at 10 p.m. ET/PT.

Showtime's 'United States of Tara': first look

Here's your first look at Showtime's "United States of Tara," writer Diablo Cody's follow-up to "Juno."

In the series, based on an original idea of Steven Spielberg, Toni Collette stars as a wife and mother with multiple personalities -- both male and female. The actress said the pilot script was "so well written it's like a dream job."

And according to Peter Sciretta at /Film, the first episode of the series sounds promising. Here's how he lays it out:

In the opening it is revealed that Tara has just found morning-after pills in her 16-year-old daughter’s Kate’s bag. It’s later revealed that [potential spoiler warning] one of Tara’s alter egos, a burnout teenage stoner named T, was the one who supplied her with said pills.

"Tara" premieres in January.

-- Denise Martin

'United States of Tara': Showtime bets on Steven Spielberg, Diablo Cody

Oscar-winning “Juno” screenwriter Diablo Cody will tackle the subject of motherhood once again in a new television comedy for Showtime. Diablo Cody's new Showtime series is exec produced by Steven Spielberg
The cable network has picked up 12 episodes of “United States of Tara,” written by Cody and starring Toni Collette (“Little Miss Sunshine”) as a wife and mother of two who suffers from dissociative identity (formerly multiple personality) disorder.

Steven Spielberg
, who first came up with the story, will executive produce with Cody. The dark comedy will follow Tara Gregor as she –- and her various mental protectors –- raises two teens and tends to her understanding husband.

In the first episode, her other personalities include a teenage girl and an adult man who emerge during times of stress. John Corbett ("Sex and the City") will play Tara’s husband.

“What a pleasure to watch Diablo Cody and Toni Collette work together, a combination of inspired writing and acting that raises this show from just a curiosity to a compelling examination of a modern family,” said Showtime president of entertainment, Robert Greenblatt.

-- Denise Martin

Photo: Screenwriter Diablo Cody at the "What Happens in Vegas" premiere in May.

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