Showtime’s Latest Primetime Hit Shines Light on D.I.D.

Co-Editor-in-Chief Justin Minor

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  In the spirit of such shows as Weeds and Dexter, Showtime continues its trade in dark humor and imagination to bring their new show, the United States of Tara, to life. Written by Diablo Cody (writer of Juno), the United States of Tara stars Toni Collette as a housewife who just so happens to have dissociative identity disorder, meaning she has multiple “alter” personalities that she cannot control. Also starring John Corbett as her laid-back husband, Brie Larson as her disaffected daughter, and Keir Gilchrist as her out-and-proud teenage son, United States of Tara is a dark comedy with a great cast.

 

 

  The latest Showtime production stars Toni Collette as Tara, a stay-at-home mom with dissociative identity disorder, or “multiple personalities”. Tara’s role as a mother to her disaffected daughter and her neglected son is made all the more difficult by the fact that she sometimes becomes temporarily unconscious as her “alters” come out to wreak havoc. Her alters Buck (the hyper-masculine “Vietnam veteran”), “T” (the loose teenage drama-queen), and Alice (the June Cleaver of the bunch), all make appearances whenever Tara is too overwhelmed to handle something.

 

 

  The acting in United States of Tara is top-notch and all of the actors portray real people very convincingly. Toni Collette is brilliant as Tara, who is only trying to get by without her alters coming out at inappropriate times. Collette has a lot of range that can vary from hysterically funny to downright sad.

 

 

  The only downside of the show is the fact that Tara’s “alters” are portrayed in very over-the-top performances, and their presence on the show sometimes gets tiresome since some of the best episodes are the ones that the alters don’t even appear in. “T” is the most obnoxious of all the alters because her only goal is to make love to Tara’s husband Max. “Alice” is like every 1950’s housewife stereotype all rolled into one annoying character. “Buck” is the most interesting of all the alters since he is Tara’s only male alter. Buck is your typical man’s man who claims to be a Vietnam veteran.

 

 

  Even though at heart, United States of Tara is a comedy, the show does not exploit or ridicule the incredibly rare disorder the show’s protagonist must deal with. The program portrays the struggles Tara’s family must face while dealing with all of their little “quirks”. Tara shows both the light and dark sides of dissociative identity disorder and does it in a comedic way. Although the show obviously exaggerates the side effects of DID, it still manages to teach us about the disorder, and life, as well.