Monday, May 4, 2009

'In Treatment:' Incredibly Insightful, Incredibly Depressing

I dedicated my Pop Culture & Politics column this week to In Treatment and how, at the root of all the HBO show's patients' problems seems to be flawed parenting, which, as the parent of three young kids, is frightening.

But the drama -- which gives you half-hour glimpses into the therapy sessions of five patients (including the therapist, Paul Weston, himself) -- does more than make me hope that my flawed child-rearing idiosyncrasies aren't going to send my kids to a therapists' sofa in a decade or two. It makes you assess and think about your own life and wonder, "Am I doing THAT? Do I respond to situations like this patient?"

There's a college-aged cancer patient who won't take care of herself and won't tell her family because she doesn't want to burden them, a disgraced CEO with panic attacks and childhood guilt, a couple that's divorcing that has a suffering son who thinks he's responsible for the family's break-up and a fortysomething attorney who's angry that she never got married and had children.

Then there's the therapist, played by the immensely talented, Emmy winning Gabriel Byrne, who lives a lonely life in Brooklyn, while his children and his ex-wife live in Maryland. His oftentimes combative sessions with his therapist, Gina (Dianne Wiest) are, by far, the ones to which I look forward the most each week.

While HBO may have cornered the market on death with its provocative Six Feet Under, and put its stamp on the life of thirtysomething single gals in NYC with Sex and the City, I think the network can now claim the therapy arena as well. In Treatment makes the therapy sessions on other shows look positively amateurish by comparison.

Image credit: HBO.

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