Episode two of The United States Of Tara, the completely ridiculous new Showtime series, was, compared to the outrageously annoying pilot, not that bad. In fact, except for all the parts that revolved around Tara’s multiple personalities, it was kind of okay, which is like saying all the parts of ER that don’t take place in the ER are okay (they’re not.)
The theme song/intro to this show, which I had not seen until last night because I watched the first episode online, is by The Polyphonic Spree’s Tim DeLaughter. The chorus goes “I know we’ll be fine, if we learn to love the ride.”:
It’s becoming clear that this show is going to use its extreme (and impossible!) premise as a parable illustrating that all families are crazy in their own way, not just ours, and that we should try as hard as we can to accept our family members for who they are and appreciate the love that binds us together in good times and in bad. I’m not making fun of that TV show goal. Learning to love the ride was what the “crazy” old grandma’s “delusional” monologue about roller coasters was about at the end of Parenthood, and Parenthood is a great movie and that whole idea is great.
But why can’t Tara be crazy in some other, more believable way? People do it all the time. There are a million ways. The problem with this show (still) is that just when you find yourself relating to a character (like the son, for example), Tara turns into another of her stupid alters and it’s as silly as if she suddenly burst out in song. Which might be another thing with me and this show, since I basically loathe musicals for all the same reasons. (Except for The Sound Of Music.)
ANYway, this episode saw the Diablo Cody clever-quip meter turned down to eleven, and I even found myself honestly amused when the daughter, Kate, said that Tara’s teenage alter “T” had bought menthol cigarettes but the daughter didn’t smoke them because “I think they make your lungs bleed and also I think they’re racist.”
Then, in an expository dialogue scene meant to explain why the fuck Tara isn’t in the hospital yet, her husband Max said this:
“We always knew the whole gang would resurface as soon as you went off the meds…I can’t, we can’t, begin to understand why you need them unless we let them show themselves.”
Nope. That is definitely not how it would work, if this premise were possible. It doesn’t really matter why she “needs” her other personalities, they’re ruining the lives of everyone around her. Stop loving the ride and take your meds, Tara. There can still be a show. There are plenty of other rides.
Which brings us to Patton Oswalt. Here are his two scenes, which don’t offer a ton of insight into his character, but I vote for a spinoff because he’s the best:
Patton Oswalt wants to go to Macaw Island:
Patton Oswalt is informed of what “love is, man.”:
So then Tara changes into “Alice”, a perfect housewife with a baby voice who says at one point that if everything goes as planned, she’ll take over Tara’s body or whatever. Foreshadowing! “Alice” is all the cliches about perfect housewives, and is also racist. Here is the racist cakewreck she brings to the school bake sale, for some reason:
Also, the son has a problem with his teacher (Buster Bluth!) and wets the bed, and then, and THEN, Diablo Cody speaks her stripper-feminism manifesto through the Barbie doll body of teenage Kate. Are you ready to be shocked by the FIFTEENTH WAVE, Showtime-subscribing America?:
Well, at least we got that out of the way.