Saturday, March 29, 2008

In Treatment

Last night there was nothing on television, and so I checked out In Treatment, which I had been meaning to do for a while. I don't have HBO, so I watched a bunch of the episodes online and found them to be fascinating. It might be the fact that I'm a social worker, but I was immediately hooked.

That said, there are some things I didn't love. I felt some of the dialog was too awkward and scripted. I think Paul makes a little too much use of the "How did that make you feel?" question, which makes him sound like the stereotypical shrink. And, of course, there's the unrealistic amount of drama that seems to be a requirement for any television drama show out there.

What do I mean? Well, Paul is a therapist. He sees clients all day. These clients have issues (some more serious than others... we assume he has more than the 4 clients we see, and that we're just getting to see the ones with the most interesting stories). Those people already bring their own drama: relationship confusion, suicide attempts, family relationship issues, etc. That level of drama, though high, is believable because those are the kinds of things that therapists deal with regularly as they help people.

What I found a little over-the-top was the fact that Paul's personal life falls to shambles within the first few episodes. This isn't to say that therapists don't have challenging personal lives every now and then, but the writers took his personal life crises from 0-60 in the span of three episodes. I understand that the angle of a therapist examining his own life troubles while also being a therapist to others who are examining theirs is interesting. But do his life troubles have to be so big?

Twenty-five of each twenty-seven minute episode is spent in a therapy session, with just two people talking (or three, in the case of the couple who are in therapy). It is intense and raw and powerful. And at the same time, there is something about it that I just couldn't connect with.

But I kept watching. So HBO must be doing something right.


smukai said...

C'mon, you know why you were watching it.

Because it was on TV.

Turboglacier said...

I'm with you, Fibby. Admittedly I have only watched one episode (no cable at home, only get to watch HBO when visiting my parents' vacation place) but it seemed overdone to me. I figured may the therapist guy had recently had a stroke? I couldn't think of any other explanation as to how he had successfully negotiated the hazards of being a therapist for (what was implied to be) decades, only to suddenly have apparently no real ability to manage things at all in the "session" I saw.

Turboglacier said...

P.S. If you're in the mood for [my opinion] better fictional therapy viewing on DVD, may I suggest "Equus" (on the serious end) or "Martin and Orloff" (on the hilarious end.)