United States of Tara Premiere

by Lauren Gitlin January 19, 2009
Winter Pilot Season: United States of Tara She digs into her pocket and fishes out a slip of paper, which she flashes at the camera and explains is a prescription for the morning-after pill. "As in 'the morning after sweaty, skanky teen sex.'" She goes on to say that she found said script in her daughter Kate's fuzzy chimpanzee backpack last night. Pan to Tara absconding with the slip of paper as her lanky, blonde and oblivious daughter comes out of the bathroom in a tank top and panties. Camera Tara divulges that she's torn between wanting to be cool with it and wanting to perform female genital mutilation on her kid. She breaks down and apologizes to the camera, saying she just can't deal with this right now, and pops up to stop recording. She takes out the tape, puts it in its case and tosses it on to a shelf that's littered with other mini-tapes labeled alternately and in varying scripts "Tara," "Buck," "T," and "Alice."

She storms out of the room, rips off her button down, and continues peeling off her clothes, while downstairs the aforementioned teenaged skank arrives home from school, decked out in the of-the-moment teen costume of leggings, boots, tutu, layers of t-shirts and a mess of stringy, badly dyed hair and shouts a tentative "yo" to see if anyone ("Marshall" or "Estonian cleaning lady" or "Mommy") is home. Her Sidekick or whatever jingles and she answers with a perky "Hi sex robot. I miss you too," but is interrupted by the strains of pounding bass coming from upstairs and excuses herself quickly to check out the sitch. She creeps upstairs tentatively as the music gets louder and feigns disgust when she sees the hallway littered with her mom's clothes. "Ew. Mom briefs." Cutesy Cody Alert #2.

She rounds the corner into her room and sees her mom bent over rummaging through her closet, bedecked in skintight jeans, a pink tank top, a side pony tail and visible thong. Confirming the initial suspicion that this is in fact one of Tara's various other incarnations, Kate cracks a smile and greets her mom with "T! Who let you out?" So-called T spins around and in a gum-snapping Valley Girl staccato replies, "Dude, I've been digging around in your closet for an hour and I can't fucking get to Narnia." Cutesy Cody Alert #3. Christ, at this rate, I'm going to get carpal effing tunnel. The two banter and Kate asks why T is there instead of her mom. T explains that her mom is in a bad place mentally because of the morning after pill script discovery. T reveals Tara "went all CSI on that pubic stash you call a backpack," to which Kate replies with glee, "Mom violated Monkey. Bitch!" then accuses T of wearing her brand new skinny jeans. T does some more totally archetypal teenaged posturing about how her ass looks amazing in them and I feel a migraine coming on but bad. Like, I guess I get that they're trying to emphasize how well-adjusted and mature Kate is as a result of her mom's mental insanity by putting it in stark relief to outrageously bratty T, but T seems to be more like someone's cartoonish idea of what an adolescent is than anything that has ever actually inhabited a teenaged body. Is that also by design? Is it supposed to be revelatory that this is Tara's subconscious's idea of what a teenager is? Somehow I doubt it's all that complex.

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