You have to wonder about the people at Showtime. How do they decide on the television content they're putting out there? Is it a case of 'well that's pretty messed up - let's do it!'?
In this offering Toni Collette plays a loving mother and a devoted wife, who happens to have multiple personality disorder. One minute she is Tara, a sensitive artist who paints murals for wealthy socialites, and then the next she is someone else. Entirely!
The first of her "alters" (as her family refers to it) is 'T', a teenage girl who steals her husband's credit cards to go mall-hopping with her daughter, but the characters get more diverse and a lot more out-there as the show progresses. It's a tough call for any actress, but of course Toni Collette pulls the transitions off with such resounding confidence it is spectacular to watch.
Her family walk a fine line between supportive and contemptuous, but their love and understanding for Tara's condition is what really makes the show so worthwhile. John Corbett has made a career out of playing a big, sensitive chunk of manhood so of course he is fantastic as Tara's easy-going husband.
Cody Diablo, who won an Oscar for penning Juno, is here as writer and exec producer, so frank, genius dialogue should come as no surprise. There is a hint of homo in the son and a loveable skank in the daughter, so the quirk is well and truly in overdrive.
The actual subject matter is fascinating, as you watch this kind of disease effect not only the individual but all of the people around her too. Much like Weeds, you're taken so convincingly into this engaging, twisted world you've probably never given much thought to before. And you start to wonder why you've never given it much thought before.
The United States of Tara is the sort of show that has you hanging for next episode as soon as the closing credits start to roll. Thanks Showtime, you've got me hooked again!