United States of Tara (TV Series 2009–2011) Poster

(2009–2011)

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9/10
Despite a shaky Second Season, Thus far, "United States of Tara" is one of TV's Strongest Current Shows! Incredible and Touching!
MaximumMadness15 May 2011
A few weeks ago, a friend of mine encouraged me to watch Showtime's series "United States of Tara." I was unsure, as I had heard the concept and expected something silly and outlandish, but I gave it a shot, because I'm a fan of creator Diablo Cody's film "Juno", and I had heard that Steven Spielberg was an executive producer. He popped in the DVD, and we watched the pilot on his computer. The instant it ended, I pushed him away, loaded up Amazon and ordered the first two seasons for myself! I was that taken by the show! Within two days of the DVDs arriving, I had watched both seasons, ran to my mothers house, hijacked her TV (and her Showtime on Demand), and watched every single episode available! "United States of Tara" is easily one of the best shows on TV right now. It is an often poignant, thoroughly dramatic, and generally hilarious look at the life of a woman suffering from dissociative identity disorder, and how she tries to hold her family together through her struggles.

Toni Collette easily earns her Emmy Award as Tara, the star of the show, and her (thus far) seven "alters" (her alternate personalities) who take over when Tara cannot deal with reality. The performance Collette gives is incredible, because Tara and each of the alters is it's own "being", with its own style, voice and traits. For all intent and purpose, Collette has played eight characters on the show, often switching between 2-4 per episode.

John Corbett, Keir Gilchrist, Brie Larson and Rosemarie DeWitt round out the cast as Tara's supportive (almost to the point of breaking) husband, her kind-hearted son (who happens to be gay), her sometimes troubled teenaged daughter, and her somewhat self-absorbed sister, respectively. This is one of those rare casts that perfectly "gels", and there is no sore thumb in sight!

The show itself is well structured. While I had heard it was comedic, it is actually more often a very serious drama, with comedy thrown in. While you will laugh at it, and with it, you will also often find yourself ready to shed a tear for the characters. Cody and the other writers prove themselves, establishing and paying off characters masterfully, in ways that most shows could only dream of. Story lines also draw you in, and you will feel a very human suspense. This is a show that feels real, feels edgy, feels funny... It just works.

Thus far, the show is comprised of three seasons (I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a fourth, despite season 3's lower ratings). This is why the show didn't get a perfect 10 from me- a slight inconsistency with the second season's quality. The first season was outstanding. It truly was one of a kind. It tugged at my heart, and made me laugh. The second season was at times just a bit too... "blah." It was occasionally too dark (more than once forcing story lines and images that felt just too darned uncomfortable, and derivative of the first season), and it felt like there wasn't as much happening. It was still good, but it wasn't as fresh. There wasn't quite the sense of urgency that season one seemed to ooze. It felt like, for lack of better word, an unneeded movie sequel- sure, it's fun to catch up with the characters, but it's not quite as fresh. Thankfully, it did finally get back on track as the season wrapped up, and the finale was heartfelt and worth the "wonky" earlier episodes. And I'm happy to report that Season Three (the current season) is arguably just as good, it not better, than the first season! It was quite a comeback, and I'm glad the show found its legs again.

All-in-all, I highly recommend "United States of Tara" to all open-minded people who want a touching, thought-provoking and smart comedy-drama to follow. It may not be everyone's cup of tea, but it's a phenomenal show overall, despite an only so-so second season. I give it a near-perfect 9 out of 10!
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10/10
Not what I expected, but very enjoyable.
j_winn23 November 2009
I started watching this show not knowing anything about it, and was expecting something along the lines of a Tracy Ulman variety show. I was surprised to find something much deeper. It's not really even a comedy, though it has some comic elements. I found the characters likable, and oddly enough...believable. Someone else mentioned that this is not the typical family, but what the heck IS a typical family? As for making a joke out of rape and incest, I don't find that to be the case here at all. Being able to laugh at our reactions to these atrocities is not nearly the same as laughing at the actions themselves. I watched all 12 episodes in a marathon sitting over 2 days (I'm on vacation, what can I say). Love it, and I hope it continues.
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10/10
I cannot believe it's over. I cannot.
Adam M. Hyde1 June 2011
Again. Such an unbelievable fact that my brain cannot accept. This series is better and better by episodes after episodes, seasons after seasons, weeks after weeks. And suddenly it's announced that it's over? The last episode will air on June 20. I really could cry that I have to loose this show. I think I'll do after the finale. Nowadays it's so hard to find a good series which can complete your imaginary world. Instead of the up-to-date shows on TV, I only watch series which have already been over. United States of Tara is the only I'm following. And I'm just shocked with its cancellation's announcement. I cannot believe it's over. I cannot.
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8/10
Worthwhile watching
mbuchwald18 May 2010
I also don't understand the negative comments about this show, for example the fact that drugs and alcohol are present. This is what makes the show realistic (except perhaps for a subsection of the population who don't accept that alcohol and drugs are part of North American society). The characters are believable and sometimes quite funny. Some of the episodes, for example the one in which Tara's sister undergoes a second breast operation, push American obsession with perfect beauty to the limit. As others have said, Collette is outstanding as Tara but the other actors more than hold their own next to her various roles. This is a very idiosyncratic take on contemporary society.
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9/10
A very entertaining and promising show
Jonathan Kang22 September 2009
I'm unsure as to why there's so much negative reaction. Perhaps people are burnt out on the whole Sundance-is-hip thing and have form a I'm-even-more-obscure crowd. The dialog is clever, the acting -- especially by the magnificent Toni Collette -- is surprisingly good, the plot has been interesting so far and nothing seems forced. There are few shows on TV nowadays -- including the ever declining Weeds -- that I think have such merits going for it.

Toni portrays her personalities wonderfully; a very broad range of personalities. There's so much articulation in the portrayal of mixed happiness and stress in her family -- portrayed wonderfully by the cast.

It's only been on for one season but I can definitely see this being a show I will hold onto.
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10/10
Outside the box, demanding and intriguing, Laugh out loud stuff
pimplepopper9 September 2009
Have to completely disagree with the last reviewer, and question what makes them so down on this show, I have now introduced 15 friends to the show, and everyone of them has become an addict. The premise is different, the questions it brings up make you think, its not your typical 'doctors n nurses/murder investigation/ in side the box' show, so I could understand why it might offend someones sensibility. Tony Collette is an amazing actress, and her supporting cast shine just enough to steal the show here and there, the biggest disappointment I have with this show was the short season, and having to wait so long for the next one. Total addict here, I totally recommend the show, but not if your fairly right wing or not prepared to be challenged by a new subject matter. LOVE IT! :)
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10/10
Great Fun!
dutchdevon18 September 2009
I had heard about this show but didn't think it was for me. The first to episodes were bonus featured on Dexter's Third Season, so I watched out of boredom. I loved it! I think you might have to have a twisted sense of humor to enjoy this show, thankfully i do. It was funny and entertaining. Toni Colletti is fantastic in this role and who doesn't want to eat John Corbit up with a spoon? Great cast, fun writing, new story that keeps me coming back for more!! I LOVE Tara! I LOVE T! I LOVE Buck! I LOVE Alice! The kids are fantastic in their respective roles. You won't be disappointed with this Showtime Hit. I would be shocked if they didn't have more seasons.
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9/10
United States of an American family
Despite I am from Brazil, I can understand the middle class American family and, I must say, has a lot of similitude with the middle class Brazilian family. The point that make they different is the history of each country.

The American culture is formed by the problems in the middle class of the United States. United States of Tara has a plot, in my personal opinion, that shows the problems, desires and frustrations through the relationship of a family which has a mom suffering from personality disturb, played by Toni Collette. Each personality shows a piece of the middle class family.

Until this sitcom I have never saw Toni Collette as a great actress, since I saw her interpretation in United States of Tara, I must say that I'm in love for her work. She gave so much life for the personalities inside the character, that until now I am very impregnated.

Hence, this is a must see show. My only doubt here is if Diablo Cody will have the ability to continuous to write for several seasons without destroy the idea and keeping the viewers attention.
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3/10
This was horrible and another sign that the Sundancification of Hollywood must stop.
docudrama6710 January 2009
Warning: Spoilers
After watching the pilot of the United States of Tara I felt I had to write a review.

This is horrible! And the fact that some "indie" fans on IMDb are applauding it is just sad IMHO. More and more a small minority of pretentious people are getting to call the shots in Hollywood and the results have been a disaster.

Showtime which was making some inroads against HBO by producing some good shows seems to now want to imitate them and the results for Showtime will be the same as for HBO. Cult fans for shows that regular people realize are stupid, low ratings and a lack of profits.

Fey, silly, quirkfests that rely on phony unrealistic story lines are the style that comes straight from crappy mostly unwatched Sundance films. Big on the festival circuit, BO flops when they go wide.

And yeah, I know Juno and Little Miss Sunshine were hits. I also know Chumscubber, Hamlet 2 and Eagle Vs. Shark had straight to DVD numbers when they were released.

Toni Collette is awful in this show. It was like watching a bad actor's exercise. John Corbett was likable, but could have just as easily been playing the new boyfriend on an episode of The New Adventures of Old Christine, the 20 year old that is playing a 15 year old was ridiculous because she plays much older, maybe that's why I wasn't creeped out about the teen sex until they said she was 15 in the show and then I just thought - "no, no, no!!!" another Diablo Cody creepy storyline that is so phony its ridiculous - and then there's the young boy - everything about him was phony - the kid in Two and Half Men is more realistic than this "kid" - a total writer's indulgence - And that's not even getting into the stupid "storyline" and the "goth kid" straight out of a 1980's John Hughes film - unbelievable -
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1/10
Very Disappointing.
nissa-zephyrine20 January 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I heard that the creators/writers (presumably Spielberg/Cody) had spoken with "experts" on DID yet Diabo Cody didn't want her main character to have a "mental affliction". That in itself doesn't make sense at all. I am very disappointed in all of the artists attached to this series. The series begins with "Tara not taking her DID medication" thus the whole platform is false, as there is no medication for DID. I would think that if one studied DID, they would be more respectful to people who had their childhood stolen from them from predators and their adulthood stolen from them from the disorder and all its accompanying disorders. I don't think a comedy full of overblown, misunderstood concepts would even cross a humane persons' mind.. If I were them, I would claim ignorance of the development of DID, it made me uncomfortable, feeling like the producers, crew and affiliates of this production are advocates of repetitive, on going, horrific torture of children, involving but not limited to a childhood of mental torture, years rape, group rape, involuntary isolation, molestation, penetration into the body with inanimate objects, simulated drowning, being chained, flogged, beat, lit on fire, burnt with irons; basically atrocities in the developmental years. Since obviously, they are now capitalizing upon it. I am most disappointed in Spielberg. What's next a Musical Schindler's List??? Or Comedy in the Camps??? Ridiculous. People do anything to make a dime. I think it is this inherent greed and selfishness in humankind that led us to the place we are now, globally.
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5/10
The Trouble With Tara...
DeanNYC3 February 2009
Warning: Spoilers
The United States of Tara has a few crucial issues and they could be potentially fatal.

Let's be clear. This show is NOT a sitcom, as it was first promoted by Showtime. It's a thirty minute "dramedy." That in itself isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it does represent a kind of false advertising for the program. You aren't going to find the laughs of a "How I Met Your Mother" or even "The New Adventures of Old Christine" here.

What we do have is Toni Collette in what amounts to a tour-de-force role as 4 different characters, brought on by DID: Dissociative Identity Disorder. She becomes a teenage slut, a Vietnam vet (so "he" claims), and a happy homemaker in addition to her regular self: mom to two teens, wife to a landscaper husband and sibling to a financially troubled sister.

There are several glaring issues about this situation, and I'm not even discussing the question of whether it's OK or not to use DID as the impetus for the show's action. That is a separate argument that, believe it or not, isn't related to my criticism of what's going on here.

The first issue is based on the use of drugs and alcohol. We are told that Tara was on prescription drugs to control these "alts" and had recently come off of them so she could live a more focused life. Yet she is very often drinking on the program: beer and wine are the most common choices, but even hard liquor has been seen. The use of alcohol in this situation makes me question how serious this character is about getting better. If the alts appear when she is unhappy, drinking alcohol, a known depressant, would be a huge mistake. Also, why would her therapist permit that kind of behavior?

In addition, the characters do not relate well to each other. It seems as if they each have their own agenda and have no connection to what anyone else is doing, creating logic gaps. For example, Tara's sister Charmaine is trying to sell products. One of her "team mates" hires Tara to paint a mural for her, but Charmaine spills the info about Tara's alts to this unrelated person.

Charmaine first claims that she didn't tell, but then admits to it. This upsets Tara. Why, if everyone knows about Tara's DID, does she get upset when Charmaine explained it to her client, and why did Charmaine lie to Tara about telling? Wouldn't it be one or the other? Then, after an evening of drink, (there's the alcohol) one of the alts defaces Tara's mural for the client with a horrible comment etched into the wall. What? There needs to be a certain logic within the framework of the show, some basic rules that the characters need to respond to in order for it to make sense in its own reality and I simply do not see that working here.

Also troubling is the point of this isn't clear. What are we learning (or even observing) here? To indicate Tara's "changes" they have tried an audio cue (a little tone) and even a visual cue (the image going unfocused for a moment) and that seems awkward. We see Tara suffering through the issues of what her alts do, but I don't get any sense that there is any progress.

Perhaps worst of all, the dialog seems to be uninspired. Characters say things I couldn't imagine "real" people saying in some circumstances here, and that's always a bad sign.

Originally, I gave the show a 7, based on the pilot alone. Having seen more episodes, I've lowered this to a 5 and I can say that this show is in trouble, but I believe it can be fixed.

The key is related to how the characters interact. Yes, each one of them has a list of things that they want. But to make the plots move in a logical way, they all have to interconnect. Buck buys (or rents) a bunch of porn DVDs. Where does he get the money? The alts apparently are able to use Tara's credit cards. Does this make any sense? There are several gaps of this sort within this framework of the story and they could be series killers.

My advice to Diablo Cody and Steven Spielberg: stay small, stay focused and stay logical. A series like this, with one actor playing 4 characters can get very sloppy very quickly, so everything needs to make sense. The smaller, more focused the stories are, the more genuine it's all going to seem.
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1/10
Utter Crap
catiechu26 January 2009
Without plot. Without depth. A predictable and repetitive machine of a show run by bland trope characters that have proved tried-and-true to sell on modern TV. The lanky boy nerd, rebellious teenage daughter, firm yet gentle husband, leading female character who has so much on her plate which she manages, albeit, often, just barely. Events that are persistently so unreal to modern life that they become commonplace in works fiction. Characters that are a little out-there, a little offbeat, but only a little, not so much to make the viewer question whether or not he can like the characters as he likes himself. If you've ever TOUCHED a piece of contemporary fiction you'll be able to predict each and every turn. I really wanted to find something likable in this but it's just so atrociously bad. Not only is it non-authentic, there isn't an ounce of freshness in it. I cannot more firmly encourage the intelligent viewer to abstain.
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1/10
Just What TV Needs, a Sitcom Sybil!!!
salfan214 January 2009
They've assembled a Rolls Royce of talent for this, and every one performs admirably. The problem is, this is the WORST idea for a TV series since My Mother the Car. It is an Everest of a lousy idea to have a multiple personality mom as the motor for a half-hour series. It's a great showcase for Toni's acting talents...but that's what it boils down to, a stunt to showcase an actress's range. It was much better artistically and commercially when it was called The Tracy Ullman Show. Each character was fully developed as a sketch, and Tracy could return to each character week after week without having to worry about a narrative arc.

I liked Juno and think Diablo has a real ear and eye for quirky speech and behavior, but she doesn't know when an idea should be a movie or a TV series. This might have made an OK one-off film, where you have time for development and you're not bound by the 28 minute clock. But this just seems half baked and striving for something it never can achieve....a real family trying to cope with an amazingly rare syndrome that has lasted for 17 years!!!! Gimme a break. I liked Sybil and Sally Field justly earned her Emmy, but this stinker gives the syndrome a really bad and somewhat boring name.
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6/10
Not the sum of it's parts
I_saw_it_happen15 June 2010
The opinion on this show seems divided, mostly because the show is extremely well done, and has stellar acting and some truly clever dialogue, but is also plagued with a self-conscious need-to-be-hip which ultimately begins to feel both preachy and forced (much as happened with Six Feet Under, another Showtime project).

Firstly, Toni Collete's acting is superb. Some people complain that it isn't an accurate portrayal of DID, and this may very well be the case; but this is a TV drama, not a documentary, and it's the depth and degree to which T.C. plays her characters that give this show so much strength. This is a show about one person's disorder and how it effects her family, not the whole community of people who suffer from DID. In this regard, the show is compelling and establishes a range of situational dramas that are much more original than any family-based drama has been in some while.

Much of the show deals with Tara trying to figure out why it is that she suffers DID in the first place, since this condition is usually premised by something traumatic in childhood (usually sexual abuse). This storyline is handled quite well, and becomes a more intriguing mystery as the show proceeds.

The other 'main' focus of the show deals with the complications arising from Tara's condition --- that her 'alters' have their own sexual libidos and desires, for instance, which strain Tara's marriage; that she may slip into another persona at critical moments (which sometimes turns out for the better, amusingly). This part of the show is also handled extremely well.

The dialogue is also notably better than the dialog in many shows as of late. There are some truly laugh-out-loud exchanges between characters, and a good deal of realistic conversation, as well. Most importantly, all the characters (even the alters) all have distinct ways of explaining, presenting, and relaying information. For the most part, it's an impressively solid bit of dialogue writing.

But alas, U.S.O.T. does suffer from some rather unfortunate indulgences, as well. Namely, it wears it's liberalism a bit too proudly on it's sleeve not to become preachy. The main place where this is evident is in the subplot through the series of Marshall (Tara's son) coming to grips with his own homosexuality as he grows up; personally, I think it's a brilliant way to toy around with the theme of identity, as it extends outside Tara's disorder. However, this subplot is handled so clumsily that it comes across as self-righteous and quite forced. It's as if Showtime decided they needed something edgy, and defaulted to 'gay teens', since that's apparently not been done enough. As more emphasis is put upon how gay Marshall is, he becomes a less and less interesting character, defined only by the fact that he's gay, rather than layered and clever as he is in the first season.

Another problem with the series is the formulas which it creates for itself with promising relationships turning bad. As new romantic interests are introduced, these new characters seem sweet and interesting, but all eventually turn out to be secretly neurotic stalkers and sociopaths. It gets a bit cliché within the small confines of the show, and sadly predictable.

Again, this show bears a lot of the same structural strengths and weaknesses of Six Feet Under (although U.S.O.T. is decidedly funnier and less bleak), so if you enjoyed Six Feet Under, you'd probably like this. If you found Six Feet Under too lacking substance for all it's provocation, then you'll find that same disappointment here, and this show's probably not for you.

Definitely worth trying, if for nothing else just to see Toni Collete's impressive acting.
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1/10
A Disgusting, Inaccurate Portrayal of a Very Tragic Disorder
susashushan21 January 2009
Apparently Showtime doesn't want to know the REAL facts about DID, and what a person who has DID struggles with on an hourly basis. I feel insulted to have received an obvious "form email letter" in response to my heartfelt email to Showtime. What I saw in the first episode, is that Mr. Spielberg is using "sex, sex, and more sex", to sell a series. The second episode was even more disappointing.

At least with the massive number of anti-Tara emails that Showtime obviously has received from DID sufferers, they have included an "informative" video from Dr. Kluft; however, even in his short documentary, he did not address the magnitude of the horrific childhood sexual abuse that causes Dissociative Identity Disorder. The so called "consultant" that the writer, Diablo Cody is conferring with, had DDNOS, not DID. Apples and oranges... sigh.

Imagine for a moment, if you can: A new Showtime series called, "The Deformed State of Tara" - a COMEDY about a girl who confronts comedic situations in her every day life revolving around her dealing with her inability to climb stairs, her sexual encounters, and her comedic experiences with people staring at her scarred and deformed face and arms. (As a child, her parents had physically abused her so intensely, that her repeatedly broken bones resulted in a leg amputation, and the repeated burns the parents inflicted on her arms and face resulted in grotesque scarring which made her face appear as almost inhuman.)

This scenario is NO DIFFERENT than creating a "COMEDY" about a person who suffers from a disorder caused by repeated, early childhood RAPE AND INCEST. One might say that the results of childhood physical abuse are apparent to outsiders, but the results of childhood sexual abuse resulting in Dissociative Identity Disorder are also readily apparent to others in public. Raping young children is NOT comedic.
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2/10
Unbelievably bad
ricobelled1 February 2009
I've loved a lot of shows on Showtime, but this one has made me lose a lot of faith in this channel. Incredibly stupid, uninspired writing, which the good actors are not able to save. I gave it a chance; tried to watch 3 episodes, but I couldn't take it anymore; had to turn off the 3rd.

I don't know much about the disease in question, but surely it can't be anything like what's portrayed in this piece of garbage! There's just no way a family would behave this way in real life.

As someone else pointed out: the makeup of this family is so standard, almost a caricature of the typical Hollywood bunch.

Can't believe this came from the same people that bring us 'Dexter' and other great shows......

Deeply disappointed.....
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3/10
Porn Without the Action
J. Wellington Peevis19 January 2009
Brilliant in that it sums up in one half hour how incredibly lost our culture is at present. These are talented gifted folks, the writing is good better than good, the acting too. The result is a show that is awful and at the same time all too watchable. Its just another original series from one of the subscription channels who honor a corporate mission statement that must read, 'people will watch anything with or related somehow to raunch and sex'.

Toni Collette whom i used to really respect, has bitten the forbidden fruit by accepting this role. Great actress, and she holds her own, but this is embarrassing. She plays a woman suffering from a multiple personality disorder who could be in a straight jacket, but instead lives as a happy housewife/mom tormenting her family with her perverse alter egos. These things are sometimes mildly funny when executed in a sketch format as farce, but not like this. Predictably, Tara is presented not as farce, but as some twisted vision of reality the series producers have created that begs our acceptance. With most other Sopranopera possibilities exhausted, little else remains but to turn mental illness into dark comedy. Sybil, the PG-13 sitcom. If this all seems unimportant to you then you will be delighted to learn the entire premise really isn't important anyway because what is the show really about? What else, vulgarity.

How many squirms, how many titillations can we still manage to strip out of a thoroughly mined audience. Oh the language we will use, and isn't it oh so 2009 having a little kid in shot having to hear and process it all. Its both wonderful and liberating that Showtime sees entertainment in a mentally ill Mom bizarrely empathizing with her high school daughter's proclivity for anal sex. I guess, they envision you as parent watching it with your own teenage child and enjoying some breakthrough 'anal sex is cool' bonding moments together?

Gimme a break, you are watching skinless porn, and hey thats cool, I just hope you realize it and I hope your kids are off playing Guitar Hero in another room talking about how warped you are.
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1/10
The United States of Diablo Cody Can't Write
crazychartist3 February 2009
It could just as easily have been called the United States of Toni Colette Can't Act...

Or perhaps The United States of Steven Spielberg Has Lost His Mojo....

Seriously, Steven Spielberg seems to have an unerring nose for the over-hyped and under-talented people that ruin many opportunities for what should have been good movies or good TV shows.

After David Koepp, a man who has never written a good script in his life, now Steven Spielberg works with Diablo Cody, a woman who has never written a good script in her life and Toni Colette a woman who doesn't know what "Acting" means.

What's with that? With such pedigree, Tara is of course as bad as you could have guessed and just as predictably is a dud in the marketplace.

Watch for Showtime to hype it nevertheless and maybe buy itself a couple of awards just so it can justify yet another huge waste of money.
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1/10
Showtime has Failed us
southofheavengod18 January 2009
This is the worst show I've ever seen Showtime put on the air. Toni Collette does not entertain, and isn't even the slightest bit interesting in this show. The writing sucks, the acting sucks. Showtime cancelled Huff a few years back which was an amazing show and they put this crap on the air. Thank goodness it was only 30 minutes of misery, or else I wouldn't have even been able to write a review. Do not waste your time on this show, it has no storyline, and doesn't even have characters worth watching. I don't understand why spielberg would direct something this bad. I guess we can partially blame him, but I'd blame Collette and showtime for the majority of the failiure. If this show makes it past 3 weeks, then it shows how dumb the culture of America has become. The deep, intelligent shows get cancelled, the shallow shows get a contract for years. Please, I beg of you, Cancel this show out of respect for intelligence.
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2/10
Help Us All
Luke Dennis18 January 2009
Steven Spielburg must be stopped in our lifetime. Before he kills another good premise. Speilburg and Lucas both used to have the magic needed to create something amazing, but I think that as their fame grew, the people around them started to tell them what they wanted to hear as opposed to what they NEEDED to hear. The end result is the newest Indiana Jones, the last three Star Wars films, and shows like this. I know that Toni Colette is an amazing actress, but she was nothing but unconvincing this time around. Granted, she took on an enormous challenge, playing 3 completely different roles in the pilot alone, but I think we were all expecting a lot more from her. On a brighter note, the few shades of Diablo Cody's brilliant dialogue were good for a laugh. This is the first TV show that qualifies as "a rental"
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6/10
A huge thing for something not so interesting
Rubens Junior10 March 2009
We know Diablo Cody. She's the one that got famous with that Juno kid. She's smart, a lot intelligent and her mind is a terrific machine expressing thru modern writing and fictitious characters her own experiences and her interesting point of view as an observer. And now, she joined forces with Steven Spielberg in a so daring project. Having a SPIELBERG name in the show doesn't necessarily mean that it's good, just means that things are some way easier. Anyway... there's something that keeps punching my head: why is Spielberg in it? I mean... this show is completely out of his style.

Tara is another desperate housewife, but instead of having 4 friends also desperate, she has 4 different personalities, each one of them with their own problems. After watching entire first season, my general impression is that things got really interesting just after the 8th episode and that happened just because I forced myself to keep watching it cause I could see the great potentials on the show, but I couldn't feel it till that time. The show lacks of straightness, I mean... you don't know if it's a comedy, a drama, a dramedy... or whatever. Until 7th episode, despite some great acting level, something was missing and everything in it was always "a half": half of drama, half of comedy, half thrilling, half interesting, half funny... a bunch of "halfs" that together wasn't giving a "whole". There are shows that writers know how to travel thru these different kinds of styles as natural as a linear plot, but seems that Diablo was lost someway in her creation. On the last 4 episodes, drama was the highest point and that was comforting because some things just stopped being a blur in a point that I was not pushing myself to understand the point of everything anymore. We can feel that Diablo just relaxed on her ideas in the last episodes, because things were flowing with no pressures, and that's the tone that I was expecting during entire show, so I hope she keeps herself relaxed for the 2nd season.

About the actors, well... At first this show got my attention because Toni Collette is in it, she is awesome, and great roles is all what she needs because she's a lot versatile and for someone being Tara, Alice, Buck, T and the other strange one... there must be a lot versatile and she's doing an excellent work and is holding entire show on her back, her performance is mesmerizing as Tara or as any of her alters, mainly as Alice and Buck. Keir Gilchrist, as Marshall, is being a gem in the show... Although the show suffers from some problems, the subtlety under the character's teenage homosexuality is a very interesting thing that only Diablo would be able to explore amazingly and shameless. Kate (Brie Larson), is a very interesting character, dealing with those teenage existence crisis, never knowing what to do, what to want, what to expect.

The show also worths attention just for the interesting fact that Diablo's handling entire show not only as a creator but as a producer and writer - and maybe as a director in the future, who knows - but I think that after Juno and her Oscar, she's overrating herself and her capacities a lot in this project. It's not a bad show, but it's far from being one of the best things. In my opinion, the show still needs improvements inserting more substantial facts, replacing blank fields with things that would make audience keeps their attention or expecting something far from the obvious as happened just in the last four episodes. It was hard to know what was the point of entire show as its plot is a huge thing for something that seems not so interesting or different from what we're seeing in television right now. I repeat, it's not a bad show, and not an excellent one either, but it has excellent potentials to be something much better than it's being and I'm hopping for it.
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10/10
Oh for Pity's Sake said my great aunt Julie
janice14318 January 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I have read the negative reviews and I say to you all "get a grip."

This is a Showtime original series about a woman living in Kansas who, for some reason, has decided to get off her meds which were making her feel like a zombie, and try to integrate her four "alters" via psychiatric care. Whenever she experiences stress in her life, one of the alters comes forward, be it T., Buck, Alice, or Gimme.

T. is a teenager with a huge libido who dresses like a tramp. Buck is a biker chickette who loves to throw punches and strut around like Mickey Rourke. Alice is a happy homemaker who loves to bake a cake, wears aprons and acts like she is Ricky Nelson's mother, Harriet.

And there is Gimme. What can I say about Gimme. Not to be a spoiler, but Gimme holds the key to Tara's four alters. Is Gimme just a figment of Tara's imagination? Is Gimme in an embrionic state when he urinates over the son Marshall's bed and over Tara's parents?

This show is fascinating and the cast is sublime. Toni Collette deserved the two awards she just won, the Emmy and the Golden Globe. This fact should shut you naysayers up. Boo on you!
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10/10
Putting the FUN back into Dysfunctional!
TheMightyHodgeheg4 May 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I absolutely loved this show! Why oh why didn't they make a 4th season?!

This show touches on some serious issues: DID and childhood sexual abuse being the most prominent ones (as well as homophobia, under age sex) and I can see why people are keen to spout righteous indignation before having even seen how they have dealt with this in the show. I have personal experience in both these issues and I can honestly say that it is done in a very respectful, courageous and thoughtful way. It is not entirely realistic in places, of course there is plenty of artistic license involved but this is a work of fiction, not a documentary! I also believe in the importance of using humour in order to get through life, even at the most tragic of situations and I don't feel that this show was in any way belittling, damaging or insensitive to the issues it included. It is heartbreaking in places and absolutely hilarious in others, but the humour is timely and appropriate. It is not exploitative or mocking in any way and despite its creative license dismissing a few real life technicalities, I don't believe that it does a disservice to those affected by DID or CSA.

Toni Colette is absolutely superb in this as she switches in between her 4/5/6? 'alters' and she plays each one to perfection. Her 'Buck' character is hilarious and between them all it just shows her range as an actress.

The relationship between her and her patient and loving husband Max is endearing and beautiful. To people who are saying that she is a b*tch (can you imagine just for 2 seconds what it is like for her knowing what her condition does to those she loves without having any real control over it?! It is exhausting for one and puts you in a permanent state of guilt and self absorption) and saying that he's too sweet/saintly and it's too unrealistic etc, you have clearly never met a couple who are completely in love, no matter what life throws at them. This couple clearly has that, he is devoted to her and contrary to what your jaded life experience may have taught you, this kind of love and commitment and support exists! Go back to sex in the city if you want to believe that is what true love (ie compromising for the rest of your life with an incompatible pig) is all about.

The love/hate relationship between the two sisters (Charmaine and Tara) and the way that the whole family interacted with each other was touching and remarkably well done. Yes of course the characters quirks were all slightly heightened, but again this is TV land, do you really want to watch a show of a bunch of people just like your next door neighbours who pretend to be 'normal' for the cameras every night? I don't think so. It isn't overly done on the quirky factor.

The son, a quiet, intelligent introvert is lovable and sweet and mature beyond his years but this is quite realistic of someone who has had to grow up with a young mother who suffers from a disruptive mental health problem. It is just as likely for a child to become rebellious, wild and want to grow up fast just as the daughter does. Again the relationship between them is realistic enough and a pleasure to watch. All of the characters are developed really well as the show goes on, particularly that of Tara's younger sister Charmaine who is self indulgent and uptight to begin with before she unfolds as a complete wreck and then becomes more lovable as time goes on. Tara's character also develops well as do all of the alters (although realistically they are not as multi faceted as Tara as herself)

Eddie Izzard, despite him being a better comedian than he is an actor, did a great job in this too. I thought his character was great and he gave a sincere performance.

The message that far surpasses the subject of psychiatry is one of love. It's about how we connect to each other in our relationships and the strength we can find in family and friendship. It is a feast for anyone who enjoys quirky, flawed but endearing characters, has a vague interest in psychology (but doesn't feel the need for 100% accuracy from a TV drama) and doesn't mind peeking into the lives of a liberal, colourful and unique family for laughs and a warm fuzzy feeling. It has plenty of drama and a few cliffhangers to say the least! As well as sex, drugs and jazz!
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9/10
Brilliant!!!!!
wickar200121 February 2009
I just can't understand what all the complaints are about - I just find this show one of the absolute best shows on TV today. Snappy and funny writing, great acting and interesting universe. The acting by Marshall and Kate alone is sublime, and the character of Max is just so moving. And really, for the once I feel this universe is expandable way beyond the first season, the problem I feel plagues so many series these days. Perhaps I'm so happy about it since I had no expectations - I live in Europe and have never seen the promo(that has put off a few) or care about who's producing, who's writing and so on. I just take it as it is. And as just that - its absolutely stunning. Keep up the great work! W.
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