I don’t really know how positive or negative the reviews have been for Showtime’s new half-hour dramedy, “The United States of Tara.” The score over at TV.com is 6.5, which isn’t particularly good. (“Weeds” and “Entourage” both scored an 8.9.)
The series stars Toni Collette as Tara, a mother of two teenagers and the owner of no fewer than three other personalities. Tara and her patient husband Max (John Corbett) decided that she would no longer take Xanax to suppress the personalities. Why? We don’t really know — other than Tara’s statement that she wants to “feel something.” (I’m paraphrasing.) The series feels like it’s trying to recreate what makes “Weeds” so great — how a suburban mother’s unique characteristic/career has such a drastic effect on her family.
Anyway, the first few episodes were funny in spots, but high on the uncomfortable meter as Tara’s “alters” would emerge at inopportune times. For its comedy, the series relies too much on how Tara’s other personalities embarrass the rest of the family. And it was starting to get tiresome, especially since it could all be avoided if she only stayed on her meds.
But the sixth episode — “Transition” — was funny as hell. We saw two of Tara’s alters but it was only for a brief moment. The episode revolves around a visit by Tara’s parents for her sister’s birthday party. Her parents want the kids to live with them, and Tara just tries to get through the weekend without transitioning.
But the funniest part of the episode was the daughter’s interaction with her boss, Gene (Nathan Corddry). Gene manages an Applebee’s-type restaurant chain and his character is starting to steal the show. The writers would be wise to utilize Patton Oswalt’s comedic delivery as well. He is hilarious as Max’s co-worker and friend but he’s only appeared in two episodes.
I’m not saying that “The United States of Tara” should be renewed or that it deserves an Emmy. But I was thoroughly impressed with this episode and, unless they really drop the ball over the next couple of installments, I’m going to watch the rest of the season. Those that gave up on the series early might want to check out the sixth episode to see if it blows up their proverbial skirts.