Wednesday, February 29, 2012

United States of Tara

United States of Tara is a Shotime tv show that centers around main character Tara and her dissociative identity disorder- or multiple personalities. The show has won several awards including an Emmy and a Golden Globe. Created by Diablo Cody (creator of Juno and Chicago native) and Steven Spielberg, United States of Tara is a fascinating look into the disease known as DID. The American Psychology Association has extensive research related to the topic of personality disorders, believed to be caused by several factors including trauma (childhood or otherwise), genetics, high reactivity to certain situations, as well as verbal abuse. Before personality disorders were properly researched and investigated many psychologists and doctors believed these people just be evil since behavior caused by 'alters' was often criminal, antisocial, and incredibly abnormal. Psychologists today have many solutions to individuals living with DID including pills, hypnosis, and intense therapy.

Tara, played brilliantly by Toni Collette (Little Miss Sunshine) is an ordinary woman living in Kansas with two teenage kids, a son and a daughter. She is married to Max, played by John Corbett. Far from ordinary however, this family has several hilarious and somewhat unconventional additions. We are introduced to three of Tara's personalities who come out when she needs help with a situation which may arise in the hectic life of a mother.
Meet T, Tara's slutty teenage alter-ego who Tara 'uses' to bond with her own teenage daughter, Kate. T enjoys smoking pot, having sex, playing arcade games, and giving the morning after pill to Kate. T often says stuff like, "Do you know how much it sucks to be stuck in this ancient body? Look, I have a muffin top!"
This is Alice, a second alter of Tara, a 'desperate housewife' of sorts who enjoys cleaning, baking, studying the bible, and washing Kate's mouth out with soap. Alice comes out whenever Tara has trouble around the house, for example when a social worker comes to see if the Gregson house is a suitable place for the two kids. 
Finally, meet Buck, the Vietnam veteran, beer chugging, biker dude. Tara is bad at confrontation, Buck is not. Buck is not afraid of speaking his mind and at one point carries out a lesbian relationship unbeknownst to Tara. Buck says stuff like, "I am Buck and I will F*ck you sideways!!"


1 comment:

  1. I have heard a lot about this show in the past, both good and bad, but until reading this I never actually knew that the premise was a woman dealing with DID. What I like about this is that very few shows deal with any sort of mental illness in characters. At most, anyone with and sort of mental disability is a minor character, and often (or at least from what I've seen) it is a child or teenager. Rarely is a major adult character seen with a mental illness in television, and outside of this show, never in a leading role. It also seems that the show does not make light of the condition; yes, it is a comedy, but the character is much more than mere comic relief, nor is she made out to be overly dramatic or completely tragic, or as some sort of plot device to teach another character a wholesome life lesson. I think this is very important in raising awareness for mental health issues, because people are so often unaware of how to deal with such situations. The show takes a unique view of mental illness compared to pretty much anything else in the medium, showing that while yes, she is dealing with serious matters, there are two sides to everything and there can still be happy, funny moments.


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