I wasn't sure about this show.
First off there was a bit of hype around it, and hype usually turns me off. I mean it's a show that's exec produced by Steven Speilberg, who handpicked Diablo Cody to flesh out an idea he had. Those a couple of big names right there.
Plus the premise seemed a bit out-there. A housewife with multiple personalities? How in the hell could that be pulled off?
Well six episodes later, I'm a fan.
I really don't know where to begin first with the characters or the actors. I guess I'll start with the characters.
First off you've got to appreciate Tara's family. Max, the husband, seems to take everything in stride and does a great job of balancing between being a loving supportive husband and a loving supportive dad, even when the two things are on opposite sides of his domestic see-saw. John Corbett does his best to maintain the laid-back façade he's perfect over his career, despite his overwhelming situation.
The kids, Kate and Marshall are equally impressive. Both are typical teenagers, exhibiting nearly stereotypical traits that feel refreshingly true. Kate rebels and resents, while Marshall struggles with coming into his own.
They manage to capture the endless horizon and the unending torment that is high school. Brie Larson and Kier Gilchrist deserve some acclaim for their portrayals.
And of course there's Tara and her alters. Tara is sympathetic not only because she suffers, but also because she suffers in public. Her secret is an open one that's shared freely. And even her alters, who could be on dimensional are very well fleshed out, even with (fictional) back-stories. It's a testament to Toni Collette's prowess that her alters are fully realized characters in their own right.
For a moment I worried that the show would turn into a sort of Incredible Hulk type affair, where you wait for the lead to get pushed too far and the psychic break to happen, but that didn't happen. The six episodes I watched were well crafted and none of the triggers felt forced. This is a show that could easily devolve into to formulaic sitcom clichés, I really hope that it doesn't.
All in all United States of Tara impressed me, and I think that I’m a pretty picky guy when it comes to entertainment. Though you've really got to wonder if Showtime has become a haven for bad mothers. Tara doesn't take drugs and her family suffers while on Weeds Nancy sells drugs to the betterment of her family. Dan Quayle must be spinning in his grave.