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.

Comments (31)
  1. RobinRubbermaid  |   Posted on Jan 26th, 2009 +10

    You hate all musicals except The Sound of Music? How do you solve a problem like YOURSELF?

  2. Unfortunately, the awesomeness of Patton Oswalt is negated by the douche-a-tude of John Corbett, so even if I had Showtime, I don’t think I’d ever watch this show.

  3. Lindsay, you are way too nice to this show.

  4. When will people learn that just because you’re a woman and you like to fuck, it doesn’t give you this sense of “empowerment” and it doesn’t qualify you as a feminist.

  5. Al  |   Posted on Jan 26th, 2009 +1

    What’s racist about an Obama cake?

    • i think you mean drunken negro cake

    • Brett  |   Posted on Feb 6th, 2009 0

      It’s a bake sale to raise money for cleft pallet. I must share Alice’s racism because I am under the impression anyone born outside of the Third World has corrective surgery at birth, explaining the disporportionate numbers of Africans running around with half a face. Jeez, don’t any of you ever watch late-night infomercials?

  6. are you saying tony hale is the teacher??? i watched the first ep, is this one online anywhere? also to that last clip: BOOOO.

  7. Al again  |   Posted on Jan 26th, 2009 0

    Just realized there are words on that cake, but can’t read them in the pic. What does it say?

  8. y  |   Posted on Jan 26th, 2009 -1

    I don’t watch the show because it looks pretty dumb, but don’t you think it’s kinda ridiculous to criticize it for being “impossible” because it’s a fake condition? It is an impossible and ridiculous premise, but is that really a serious problem with it?
    I actually consider the whole “multiple personalities” thing to be a cheap gimmick to get people to watch a show that is in reality pretty dull, and it probably won’t last very long once people get over the initial freshness and quirkiness of the character.

  9. I simply cannot get over the awfulness of this show. UGH. Just UGH. True Blood: Watchable. Terrible, but watchable. It was funny bad. Gossip Girl: Almost hilarious. THIS? THIS? No.

    The worst character without a doubt is the teenage daughter. Not only is she annoying as fuck, but I’m constantly confused: is she supposed to be punk? Or preppy? She wears those awful Hot-Topic esque pants but then couples them with a white shirt and pink sweater. This is an open shout out to Diablo Cody: IF YOU’RE GOING TO MAKE A CHARACTER A TERRIBLE, OBVIOUS STEREOTYPE, DO IT RIGHT.

  10. Dubby  |   Posted on Jan 26th, 2009 -1

    I really can’t stand Tim DeLaughter ever since I say the Polyphonic Spree live. He clearly thinks he’s Jesus, and doesn’t realize he’s a big fat sweaty creep who thinks he’s Jesus.

    Also, the Polyphonic Spree’s music does not even come close to justifying the 35 people on stage at once. You better have some damn good hooks to justify that–they don’t.

  11. jls  |   Posted on Jan 26th, 2009 0

    Every child deserves a SMILE… not a slave. But still racist.

  12. Should I be ashamed that I like the show? The pilot was awesome. The 2nd ep, not so much. But, I enjoy watching Toni Collette work.

  13. abster  |   Posted on Jan 27th, 2009 +1

    I looooove Parenthood, thank you for bringing that up. I always watch it when it’s on and I always cry at the end! Sigh.

  14. Matt  |   Posted on Jan 27th, 2009 0

    Oh god, that speech the daughter made was RIDICULOUS

  15. you lost me at “Parenthood is a great movie”

  16. Dexter would be more realistic if he was just a shoplifter … but that kind of takes the fun out of television. I enjoy the show, and even though you don’t want to — it almost sounds like you do too.

  17. Dexter would be more realistic if he was just a shoplifter … but that kind of takes the fun out of television. I enjoy the show, and even though you don’t want to — it almost sounds like you do too.

  18. Diablo Cody stopped being funny a long time ago.

    That said, I’ve still got a copy of “Candy Girl” on top of my shitter.

    I don’t want to like this show, but as long as they keep showing hot half-naked blondes I can suffer through the ridiculousness.

  19. I’m not complaining about the multiple personalities, I’ve somehow figured that I can take it out of my argument. Forget the multiple personalities, the show is just not well developed, well-plotted or really interesting.
    Watching the second episode, the skanky ballerina daughter hates her mother’s issues. Though I thought she was happy that Buck beat the shit out of her douchy boyfriend at the end of the pilot.
    The son could have brought the sexuality of whatever character he was discussing in a more classroom-friendly tone. I side with the teacher when the kid said ‘literary boners.’ Why didn’t Alice scrub his mouth as well. Speaking of Alice, she’s the creepiest and will certainly end up being the whole point of the show. She’s EVIL and wants to take over Tara’s body.

    Two things that slightly entertained me: Tara cleaning up after her personalities – though not the family talk/summons; and Charmaine taking down the PTA.

  20. BJ  |   Posted on Jan 31st, 2009 -3

    “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?”

    LOL. Yes, everyone who isn’t a stripper/doesn’t go to strippers is a disempowered prude, right?
    Great review. Diablo Cody can do better.

  21. If you would’ve paid attention to the episode instead of mooching off of someone else’s shitty recap, you would’ve known that the cake was for a Bolivian cleft palate fundraiser. That’s not the only hole in your jealously-ridden post.

    Seriously. Journalism has gone to the dogs.

  22. Jade  |   Posted on Feb 5th, 2009 +3

    So obviously you’ve never met anyone with the condition, and have no idea what you’re talking about. Wow, that’s great journalism right there. Kudos on mistakenly thinking everyone is as narrow minded and uneducated as yourself.

  23. elizabeth  |   Posted on Feb 10th, 2009 +5

    lol oh my. i was just looking for the theme song, and i came across this. my advise: if you dont like the show.. simply don’t watch it? durr

  24. Joe  |   Posted on Feb 18th, 2009 +5

    Who cares if it’s not realistic? Why does everything have to be a reality television show?? I love the fact that it’s somewhat unrealistic. I think the writing is very smart, but I see how it could perhaps go over the heads of a less intelligent audience. This review is horribly ignorant.

  25. Joe  |   Posted on Feb 18th, 2009 +3

    If you haven’t seen the show it’s probably best that you not comment. While the characters are “quirky,” the underlying story lines of each are very deep and there is an honesty to their performances.

  26. Gamit  |   Posted on Jun 26th, 2009 0

    OMG, I think the world is definetly getting too serious…..you pepople should start drinking more, or having more sex, cause Jezz….all you people do is complain…get LAID!!!!

    Ps:Talking about music the Stereogum ENJOYED (Björk´s Post Tribute) sucks big time!

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