Review: Showtime’s UNITED STATES OF TARA

John Corbett as Max and Toni Collette as Tara in United States of Tara

Tonight, January 18, at 10pm Showtime will premiere its new half-hour original series, UNITED STATES OF TARA, starring Toni Collette, John Corbett, Rosemarie DeWitt, Keir Gilchrist, and Brie Larson.

Back in December, I shared a first look at the show and mentioned that I was really looking forward to it.

United States of Tara tells the story of Tara Gregson, a woman with dissociative identity disorder (DID), and her family. Throughout the 12-episode season, we will meet the three alter-egos of Tara, which include “T,” a provocative teenager; “Buck,” a beer-swilling, trucker-hat wearing Vietnam vet who is prone to violence when provoked; and “Alice,” a 1950s Betty Crocker housewife. We also find out how the family deals with Tara’s DID and all her alter-egos.

I think the dynamic is best captured when Tara’s son, Marshall, tells his dad:

“Ummm…well, I’m not sure if Mom’s here. I mean Mom’s here, but I don’t know if Mom‘s here.”

I have already seen the first four episodes and so far have quite enjoyed myself.

While I liked the first episode and the way it establishes things, I think that it takes more than one episode to really get into the show. Because it is a half-hour show, it is not possible to put everything in the first episode. That means that we first get a glimpse at the family and their everyday life, as well as meet two of the alter-egos, but we’re not sure yet if we really care about them.

Keir Gilchrist as Marshall and Toni Collette as Tara in United States of Tara

However, as we get through a few additional episodes, we start to understand and feel for the Gregson family. With each episode we learn a little bit about their past, how they cope with the DID, and all the repressed feelings it brings on.

Originally, I thought United States of Tara was going to be a comedy, but really I would call it a dramedy. While there are quite a few funny situations, the show doesn’t try to take Tara’s DID and create a comedy out of it, but instead shows us what it is like to deal with this on a daily basis.

This is brilliantly executed by having the family not being surprised or react that much to Tara’s different personalities, in fact to them it’s a pretty typical day, but that doesn’t mean they like it, and that’s where the drama comes into play. One thing’s for sure, I don’t know if I could deal with what this family deals with.

Brie Larson as Kate and Toni Collette as Tara in United States of Tara

United States of Tara wasn’t what I expected, it’s better. In addition to some brilliant acting by Toni Collette, we get a character driven show surrounding quite an interesting family.

I think Showtime has another winner with United States of Tara and you should definitely give it a shot on Sundays at 10pm on Showtime.