The three-season hit “United States of Tara,” rated as a 7.4 on the Internet Movie Database (IMBd), made its way through Showtime from 2009-2011.
Executive producer Steven Spielberg plotted Emmy and Golden Globe winner Toni Collette—main character, Tara—as the victim of the mental disorder Dissociative Identity Disorder or better known as Multiple Personality Disorder.
“When faced with overwhelmingly traumatic situations from which there is no physical escape, [one] may resort to ‘going away’ in his or her head … By this dissociative process, thoughts, feelings, memories and perceptions of the traumatic experiences can be separated off psychologically, allowing the child to function as if the trauma had not occurred,” according to NYU’s psychology website.
While such a disorder is a serious matter, the show takes its own turn as a comedy-drama.
Tara did in fact endure a traumatic experience as a child, but that is what the show seeks out: What exactly happened to her and why are these alternates her defense mechanism?
To begin with, there is Tara—her “true” identity—then there are three specific alternates. There is Alice, a top-notch housewife who seems to have stemmed from the typical apron wearing, hair-curled, red lipstick woman of the ‘50s.
Then, there is her exact opposite, T, the teenage wild-child with no limits whatsoever.
Whether it’s booze, boys or bubblegum, T’s obsessed with all of the above. Moving past the women of Tara, Buck comes along. Showtime’s website refers to him as “the rough and tumble biker dude,” and that’s exactly what he is.
Tara and her several personalities seem to take the cake as lead role in this sitcom and although she is the star, it isn’t too difficult to take notice of her easy-on-the-eyes husband Max, played by John Corbett.
Not only is he pleasing to simply lay your eyes on, but his unconditional love for Tara is what really reels in viewer’s unconditional love for him. It doesn’t stop there, either. Max’s non-stop pride and encouragement in their rebellious but intelligent daughter, Kate (played by Brie Larson), also turns watchers’ eyeballs into heart-shaped candies.
As if Corbett’s character isn’t perfect enough, his support and love for Kate’s brother, Marshall, truly makes Max the all-around sexiest man of all.
Toward the beginning of the series, it is evident that Marshall is gay, but not quite comfortable with it. Max’s way of boosting “Moosh’s” (what he and Tara call him) confidence throughout the series snag’s him the “Best Dad, Ever Award.”
It might be easy for one to assume that this household is somewhat dysfunctional.
However, for such dysfunction, it seems they function rather well.
Tara’s bratty but supportive sister, Charmaine, throws another quirky personality into the mix.
Without giving too much away, Charmaine is the type of person who expects everything to be done for her, yet if someone close to her needs the slightest favor, she somehow is unable to do so.
On the other side of the spectrum, while Tara’s alternate personalities have nearly, if not completely, ruined many of Charmaine’s opportunities the two sisters are never shy of loving one another.
As the seasons progress, the show hits extremes that truly make one wonder … could this, in all reality, happen?
However, that’s not what’s important.
What’s important is that regardless of the family’s trials and tribulations, they are there for one another. The show came to a close in 2011, but the story lives on, in my book at least.
Moments like when Alice, instead of Tara, went to meet with Marshall’s teacher… when T tried to lure a certain someone into bed … and any moment when Buck hops on his motorcycle and takes Tara’s body on an adventure that Tara will never remember, while Buck will never forget—these moments keep its audience on the edge of their seat, regardless if it’s their second or third time watching.
What’s even more intriguing is the details given above do not even begin to cover the half of it all. “The United States of Tara” is an absolute must-see series—no contest.
The three seasons of “United State of Tara” are available to be viewed on Netflix.
Rebecca Farr can be contacted at