Arts, Television — July 23, 2012 8:45 am

On My First Viewing of The United States of Tara

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Chips and cheese steaming, air conditioner blasting, I pause with my tiny silver Apple TV remote just for a moment as I pass over the “Family Comedies” section of instant queue.  Sure, I haven’t watched much besides Buffy this past week, so I guess I’ll give it a go.  Showtime’s The United States of Tara, starring Toni Collette- yes.  I think this will do.

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I wasn’t really sure about anything until the pilot was over, but I’ve decided that I am into it.   Tara, a wife and mother of two, suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder, or multiple personality disorder.  Take a moment to scan your brain for any television shows that have ever showcased this disorder so openly… nothing, right?  It’s so fresh.

My favorite thing about the show is how dynamic her family is.  In my opinion, it would have been a huge mistake to make her the only wild card one of the bunch.  The whole family has to be a little different to make me want to watch anyone but her.  Tara’s husband, Max, played by John Corbett, is so lovable.  He has stuck by Tara (and her “alters”) for 17 years and is the portrait of a cool dad.  Kate, the eldest child, is super smart, but pretty stereotypically teenage, what with all her anger and rebellion.  Marshall, Kate’s younger brother, is quiet, polite boy dealing with his homosexuality at 14.

Maybe it’s the fact that this show has tapped into the ‘We’re not perfect’ ‘New portrait of the American Family’ thing that explains why it’s such a pleasure to watch.   Writer/Creator Diablo Cody has a reputation for writing interesting, realistically unique main characters (Juno, Jennifer’s Body, Young Adult) so I am not surprised at how awesome her character is, but it doesn’t stop there.  The editing is spot-on.  The cameos make me happy (Patton Oswalt and Tony Hale).  The killer opening credits have even won an Emmy.

Oh!  And don’t even get me started on- wait.  What?  Cancelled?  It’s not on anymore?  Sh*t.

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