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Customer Review

112 of 121 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GET TREATED!, March 25, 2008
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This review is from: In Treatment: Season 1 (DVD)
For some reason I had some resistance to watching this new series from HBO. Was it going to be so-so like "Tell Me You Love Me"? Was it another "John From Cincinnati" that only 10% of it's viewing audience understood (or cared about)?

Where was the next "Soprano's", "Six Feet Under", "Sex in the City"? Why was I even getting HBO - I've seen their movies over and over and anything new was not anything I wanted to see so as a last ditch effort to convince myself that I "needed" HBO, one cold and rainy Saturday, I decided to give "In Treatment" a chance (I have onDemand and had access to 7 of the 9 weeks of "sessions" thus far).

The deal was I only had to watch one or two of the 30 minutes episodes. If I didn't like it, at least I could say that I gave it a chance. Okay, you already know the obvious based on my title of this review how much I liked it, but I need to state it again, GET TREATED! It's that great. Beyond great as a matter of fact.

We get to follow the week-to-week therapy sessions of 4 individuals (including the therapist) and one couple. If you've ever been to therapy, it's an instant recognition of the process. If you want to spend time with an incredible drama with the sharpest, most relatable writing and actors that can't convince me they aren't actors but real players for the entertainment of us "flies on the wall", then this might be a series for you. Gabriel Byrne, who portrays the therapist is phenomenal.

Does it sound normal that a person should get depressed and want to go into therapy to discuss why this season ending should affect me so? Call me crazy and make me an appointment!
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 14, 2009 7:16:32 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 14, 2009 7:20:22 PM PDT
Cha-Cha---We had an exchange in the comment section of another reviewer's comments, and then I saw your effusive review of the show here. Since we did not substantially discuss the show itself in the other section, I'll paste some of my feelings about it here. Ironically, I was tag-teaming here with our old friend Newman, who was berating a psychiatrist for giving the show a great review, calling it essentially an advertisement for the therapy industry. Anyway, here is what I had to say:
****
Right on, newman. Paul is a DISASTER as a therapist, overall. And not much further behind as a mid-life male in deep downward spiral, either. There is wreckage all around him--a wrecked practice, a wrecked marriage and family, wrecked patients, wrecked ethics. I have a very mixed reaction to the show.

As a psychologist, I cringe at many of the "treatment" elements of the show, which feature some fairly egregious ethical and clinical blunders, i.e., sleeping with patients, assaulting patients, insulting patients, letting suicidal patients have access to lethal medications, not reporting sexual child abuse, assuming dual role relationships (knowingly treating his daughter's classmate), bringing his spouse into therapy supervision for marital therapy, not giving the Navy an honest evaluation of Alex's mental status, not taking any notes (as we learn in Season 2)--the list could probably go on.

I don't find Paul Weston very sympathetic at all, rather, he is a strutting egomaniac much of the time, hiding behind his self-idealized shield of being a healer, but he's as much in need of treatment as any of his patients. When he does go for help, he is so irritable and defensive that Gina cannot really reach him most of the time. He only vulnerable on his own terms, and it is this contradiction that is his greatest obstacle. He lives to pick the scab off of others' wounds, but cannot bear to be exposed himself.

Paul looks like a man to be reckoned with, and certainly feels this way about himself. But look at how the women in his life regard him. One can easily understand his wife's loathing of him, but she is also an equivocal character, one whose misery goes even deeper than what we can attribute to Paul. Paul's stupidity in his approach to Laura was monumental as well--it was totally obvious that she would discard him once she had gotten him, that is her M.O., and the minute he forgot that, and forgot why she needed his therapeutic help, he was lost and deserved to be treated like the impotent lover he was. Laura played him all the way through--teasing him, tempting him, cuckolding him with Alex, eventually doing her share to undermine his marriage--and he went for all of it rather than treating her for her rather deep illness. No Ulysses, unable to lash himself to the mast to withstand the sirens' song, he succumbed, abandoning his oath and his family. Gina is pretty well fed-up with him by the end, too. Paul has some solace with the teen-age female patient and her mom, far more than he can conjure up for his own daughter, though. For such a handsome devil with that brogue to swoon for, he manages to be pretty contemptible to the women in his world, inciting their rage like the would-be dandy in in DH Lawrence's "Tickets Please" or the corrupt shopkeeper in Zola's "Germinal", torn to shreds by the miners' wives.

Still, as a viewer, I was pretty captivated by the bumbling Dr. Weston, and was pretty caught up in the daily drama that the format engendered. I think losing that framework is a real blow to Season Two, as arduous as it was to keep up with. But in the year 2009 A.T. (after Teevo) it is no big deal to set the machine to capture it, now is it? I was really engaged in each treatment, the meetings with Gina, and the dynamic with Weston's family. I had to put a lot out of my mind, but somehow I got caught up in it, and found it much better and more enjoyable than "Tell Me You Love Me" the "other therapy show" that was airing last year--was that ever a dud!!

So I would not exactly call this show a "commercial for (the mental health) industry" Newman -- I think it would scare more people away from therapy than anything else!! I know many therapists who do not feel that it did us justice at all--but we keep watching!!!
****

So, ChaCha, we have some overlap on liking the show overall (and not liking Tell Me You Love Me), but I think I am a lot more critical about the content of the show in many respects, and I hope I was able to give some rationale for that. I know we clashed heavily in the other section, but I wanted to at least share a sober thought with you as far as our critical reactions to the show and not to the dogfight that went on elsewhere.

In reply to an earlier post on May 11, 2009 10:00:21 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 11, 2009 1:29:08 PM PDT
ChaCha says:
Harvey, I'm sorry it took so long to reply. You do have some very valid points in that Dr. Weston is not perfect and he has made mistakes. He is flawed as a therapist (and as a human being) and I can understand the concern that he didn't always follow the rules. Maybe I'm more forgiving in that I realize this is a TV show, a great one (in my opinion) and I'm willing to make some allowences such as the patients are good looking and/or have unusual situations like "mass murder of children" like Alex, but the flaws are also what I find intriguing.

Just like cops critique "cop shows" and lawyers critique "lawyer shows" and every other profession critiques TV shows/movies that purport to give a reality to their profession, I feel that we need to remember that this is a TV show and it's all about keeping the viewers entertained and tuned in. I'm sure that even cooking shows are critiqued as in "what real chef would use all that salt"?

To me, Paul's flaws are outweighed by his ability to actually help some of his patients. Success in treating patients are not always home runs. Admitedly, striking Alex was verboten as well as even entertaining the thought of dating Laura (and jeopardizing her therapy) but is he the first therapist who has had sexual feelings towards his patients? It happens and it's also happened that therapists have dated and have had sex with their patients. True, this is wrong and luckily rare but at least Paul waited until she was no longer his patient (a consolation however small). Who knows, maybe next season or this season's ciffhanger will l have Paul facing legal actions or a supension of his license because of Laura or leaving pills in a medicine cabinet.

The fact that I find this show so irresistable is that there is such a quality of realness to it. Gabriel Byrne and company are remarkable actors. I'm also enjoying the 2nd season as well - hope you are too!
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