United States of Tara

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United States of Tara
250px
A promotional image for the series, with Toni Collette as (left to right) Buck, Alice, Tara and T.
Also known as UST
Genre Comedy-drama[1]
Created by Diablo Cody
Starring Toni Collette
John Corbett
Brie Larson
Keir Gilchrist
Rosemarie DeWitt
Theme music composer Tim DeLaughter
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 12 (season 1) (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s) Steven Spielberg
Diablo Cody
Alexa Junge (season 1)
Jill Soloway (season 2-)
Darryl Frank
Justin Falvey
Eduardo Peixoto
Producer(s) Dan Kaplow
Production location(s) Los Angeles, California
Camera setup Single-camera
Running time approx. 30 min.
Release
Original network Showtime (U.S.)
The Movie Network (Canada)
Picture format 1080i
Audio format Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
Original release January 18, 2009 – present
External links
Website

United States of Tara is an American comedy-drama television series created by Diablo Cody and starring Toni Collette. Broadcast in the United States on the premium channel Showtime, the series follows the life of Tara, a housewife with dissociative identity disorder. It premiered on January 18, 2009. The pilot, written by Cody and directed by Craig Gillespie, is available for viewing on Showtime's official website.

Overview

Tara Gregson is a wife and mother with dissociative identity disorder (DID). After deciding to take a break from her medication to discover the real cause of her disorder, her alternate personalties re-emerge: wild and flirty teenager T; old-fashioned housewife Alice; and male, loud, beer-drinking Vietnam vet Buck. Tara is supported by her calm and level-headed husband Max, her somewhat troubled teenage daughter Kate and quirky, good-hearted gay son Marshall. Her sister, Charmaine, is not so supportive, often expressing her doubt about the validity of Tara's disorder. The show is set in Overland Park, Kansas.

Cast

Family

  • Toni Collette as Tara Gregson, a mother of two who paints murals. She loves her family and often feels guilty for the bizarre events she puts them through. Though Tara's personalities re-emerge because she goes off her medication, Cody stated that she isn't being irresponsible, but rather "wants a chance to try living with her condition, instead of smothering it with drugs" because it is "clear ... that she is not receiving proper treatment for her dissociative identity disorder".[2] Collette has said that she is "excited" and "absolutely in love" with the project.[3] Tara suffered through sexual abuse in boarding school and in episode 9 said "everything is a black hole for the month before and the month after" clearly implying she has no memory of the trauma, which in psychology is called memory inhibition. However in the season finale cliffhanger, it was discovered she already had the condition before she had sex with Tripp, when Tripp called her "T." (Tripp claimed he had sex with T, and not Tara.)
  • John Corbett as Max Gregson, Tara's husband. He is calm and level-headed when it comes to Tara's disorder; The New Yorker called him "a member of that strange breed of TV husband that exhibits infinite patience".[4] After being married to Tara for 17 years, "it's no longer a shock to [Max] when he comes home and finds Buck in the kitchen drinking a beer".[2] Max searched for Tripp Johanson, the man he believes victimized Tara in boarding school. Initially Tara opposed this but in episode 11 decided she too wanted to find Tripp.
  • Brie Larson as Kate Gregson, Tara's troubled 15-year-old daughter. Kate works in a local outlet of a chain family restaurant. She briefly entered into a casual relationship with her manager, Gene, but has since grown uncomfortable with his attentions and initiates a sexual harassment complaint against him.
  • Keir Gilchrist as Marshall Gregson, (or as Kate calls him, "Moosh") Tara and Max's sensitive, old fashioned and good-natured 14-year-old son who loves classic films and wants to be a director. Marshall is gay and has a crush on a boy in his film class, though writer Diablo Cody has said that Marshall's sexuality is "just matter-of-fact" and "definitely wasn't intended as any sort of plot point".[1] Though the family is supportive of Marshall, Buck is slightly homophobic and often makes disparaging remarks; Cody thought "it would be really fun" to have the dichotomy of Tara being "incredibly supportive" while Buck is "kind of a homophobe", though "he actually does love Marshall".[1] Gilchrist was praised for his portrayal. [5] and another saying that he was "the real breakout star ... [his] expressive, trusting face will definitely break your heart in some scenes".[6]
  • Rosemarie DeWitt as Charmaine, Tara's sister. She resents Tara for always being the center of attention and accuses her of only acting out her personalities. Cody wrote Charmaine as an antagonist because she wanted "a voice for the skeptics".[1] She worked for a mail-order vitamin company before an incident involving one of Tara's alters caused her to lose her job. Her first husband pressured her into getting breast augmentation surgery, which resulted in deformed, lopsided breasts. She has gotten corrective surgery, and started to bond with Buck, who took care of her while she was recovering.
  • Tara / Charmaine's parents: (Pamela Reed as their mother, Fred Ward as their father), who visited in episode 6 and suggested that Marshall and Kate move in with them because of Tara's condition. Tara and Max rejected their idea.

Friends

  • Nathan Corddry as Gene Stuart, Kate's boss at the restaurant who is in his early 20's, who Kate recently started a casual relationship with. He is becoming increasingly obsessed with her and wants more out of their relationship, despite her not feeling the same way. In episode 10, Kate filed a sexual harassment claim against him, since he abuses his power with Kate and often makes inappropriate remarks and gets too touchy-feely with the other teenage girls at the restaurant. In the season finale, he was fired, but continued his unwanted advances towards Kate.
  • Patton Oswalt as Neil, Max's co-worker and friend who has an on-again off-again relationship with Charmaine.
  • Hayley McFarland as Petula, Marshall's best friend, who dresses very conservatively but isn't afraid to speak her mind. She also sees Marshall and Jason's relationship as doomed for failure.
  • Andrew Lawrence as Jason, Marshall's potential love interest and friend. Jason is the son of a local pastor. He is confused about his sexuality. In episode 9, when Marshall kisses him, Jason kisses him back. T lures Jason into the shed in episode 10, where she asks him if he likes boys and if he likes girls. Jason's response is the same to both, "maybe". Marshall discovers the pair kissing, prompting him to burn down the shed. In episode 11, Jason "breaks up" with Marshall because he thinks Marshall will never forgive him for making out with T. Kate later tries to make Marshall feel better by saying Jason is a "bi-curious church monkey" and explains that a gay relationship between Marshall and Jason will never work because Jason is only experimenting and will end up marrying a woman as an adult. Petula texted Marshall and said she saw Jason at Starbucks on a date with a female classmate in episode 12.
  • Jessica St. Clair as Tiffany, a woman who worked with Charmaine and who hired Tara to paint a mural. The mural was later defaced by one of the alters (it still hasn't been revealed which one) because she was disrespecting Tara and her DID and purposely tried to upset Tara enough for one of the alters come out. Tiffany later took out a restraining order against Tara and got Charmaine fired from her job.
  • James McCauley as Tripp Johansson In the middle of the season, Charmaine told Max (and Tiffany) that he was the man whose sexual abuse of Tara in boarding school caused her DID. He finally appeared in the season 1 finale in a confrontation with Tara and Max at the DID clinic. At the end of the session, he called Tara "T", and she instantly transitioned to T. He claimed he never had sex with Tara, only T, which T confirmed.

Therapists

  • Valerie Mahaffey as Dr. Ocean, Tara's therapist. In episode 10, Dr. Ocean suggested that Tara should instead see a therapist that specializes in DID.
  • Joel Gretsch as Dr. Holden, the therapist at the DID clinic.

The Alters

Toni Collette plays Tara's four known alters, which she transforms into when she becomes too stressed or has strong emotions and can't handle the intense situations which arise.

  • T is Tara's wild, pot-smoking teenaged personality. She is provocative in her mannerisms and style of dress. She relates well with Kate, providing her with the morning after pill and frequently attempting to take her on shopping sprees with Tara's credit cards. She often tries to seduce Max. He refuses her since he and Tara have an agreement that it would be messy to have sex with any of the alters (although under their previous agreement, Max and T did have sex).
  • Alice is Tara's "June Cleaver-esque"[2] housewife personality. Alice often bakes for the family and labels herself as old-fashioned. She claims to have attended Radcliffe at Harvard and gets along with Marshall the most. In the second episode, she stated that she believes herself to be Tara's "true" personality and wants 24/7 control of her body, and in the eighth episode, she stated that she is the "keeper" for all of Tara's other alter-egos. Alice is the only one of the personalities (including Tara) who believes in God, and she prays every night for herself and all of Tara's other alter egos including Gimme (though she hesitated and didn't say his name). Alice has delusions of being pregnant, because she wants to have her own child (she views Kate and Marshall as only Tara's children, not her own). In episode 12, when confronted by Dr Holden, Alice says that Tara is weak, and that she needs her (Alice).
  • Buck is the only male personality so far. He is a loud and profane troublemaker, characterized by Collette as "the aggressive protector type, a man's man".[2] He explains his lack of a penis by claiming that it was shot off in the Vietnam War.[4] (Coincidentally, Vietnam veterans often suffer from post traumatic stress disorder, which DID is a subset of.) Buck has a gun named Persephone and often goes to the shooting range with Max and Marshall. Collete said that Buck is her favorite of the original three personalities "just because he's most challenging", though she has to "always be careful not to make him a stereotype."[2] Unlike her true identity and other alters, he is left handed. He is a heavy drinker and smoker. He wears large glasses and a trucker hat. Buck is attracted to women, hitting on Kate's friends and claiming to have had sex with a waitress at the local bowling alley, who gave him crabs.
  • Gimme first appeared at the end of episode six although in episode three, Alice finds "GIMME" scrawled on the wall of the bathroom in crayon, which she quickly erases before transitioning back to Tara. Max refers to Gimme as "some kind of... poncho-goblin" and an expression of pure id. Initially, this alter has no discernible human personality, only manifesting at night and adopting an animal-like behavioral pattern (e.g. urinating on people). In episode eight, Alice reveals its real name and advises Max to stay far away from it. Thus far the only time Gimme has appeared during daylight is in episode 10. Tara mentions before receiving a massage at a spa that being touched (except by Max) makes her uncomfortable and during the massage she transitions to Gimme.

Episodes

Broadcasting information and initial reception

The series premiered on the US network Showtime at 10 p.m. on January 18, premiering before the second season of ITV's Secret Diary of a Call Girl. The season aired 12 episodes. In Canada, it debuted on The Movie Network on January 19, 2009, at 9 p.m.

In late December 2008, Showtime offered free viewing on its website for the pilot of United States of Tara. Reaction to the pilot was positive; Variety magazine was the first to review it and gave it a very positive review. After averaging over a dozen reviews of the series, Metacritic concluded that Tara has received "generally favorable reviews."[7]

Customers of cable and satellite services that offer On Demand who are subscribed to Showtime get the episode one week early via On Demand.

International syndication

Country Broadcasters Notes
 Australia ABC1 Premiered July 29, 2009
 Canada The Movie Network Premiered January 19, 2009
 South Africa DSTV Premiered April 10, 2009
 US Showtime Premiered January 18, 2009

Future

On February 10, 2009, after only four episodes were aired, Showtime Networks president of entertainment Robert Greenblatt announced that United States of Tara has been renewed for a second season, which will consist of 12 episodes and air in early 2010. He said the early renewal decision came after the show averaged 2.67 million viewers per week, giving the network its highest ratings ever since 2004, when Nielsen Media Research began counting original shows on premium channels in its prime-time ratings. [8]

References

  1. ^ a b c d Fox, Erin (January 17, 2009). "Oscar-Winner Daiblo Cody Dishes on New Project: The United States of Tara". TV Guide. Retrieved January 17, 2009.
  2. ^ a b c d e Ryan, Andrew (January 17, 2009). "Meet Tara ... and T and Alice and Buck". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved January 17, 2009.
  3. ^ O'Hare, Kate (January 17, 2009). "Tara is a woman divided by four". Starweek Magazine. Toronto Star. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  4. ^ a b Franklin, Nancy (January 19, 2009). "Altered States". The New Yorker. Retrieved January 17, 2009.
  5. ^ Gilber, Matthew (January 17, 2009). "Mother's little helpers". The Boston Globe. Retrieved January 17, 2009.
  6. ^ Amatangelo, Amy (January 14, 2009). "It's time to say goodbye to Gil Grissom". zap2it.com. Tribune Media Services. Retrieved January 17, 2009.
  7. ^ Metacritic's Review of United States of Tara
  8. ^ Multichannel News February 10, 2009 Showtime United With Tara For Second Season - Premium Network Orders 12 New Episodes Of Collette's Quadrophenic Personality Series

External links

Template:Steven Spielberg productions