I recently re-watched the first season of United States of Tara and after compiling a gallery about its most shocking moments, I realized how disgustingly addicted I am to this show, despite its affiliation with Diablo Cody. So imagine my delight last week when Showtime generously provided the entire second season for my gluttonous viewing pleasure. (Thanks!)
However, if I had only been able to watch "Yes," the first episode of season two, last night, I might've felt a little let down. Here's what happened:
After a long "Previously On," we immediately learn that Tara hasn't transitioned for three months, which can only mean one thing -- she's going to transition really soon. But before that, we get a montage of how happy everyone is right now, which I love because I am the world's biggest sucker for montages. Kate, for some reason, has graduated early! Marshall has a new friend! Toni Collette looks really pretty! Charmaine is really happy and buying a new mattress with that hottie she's dating! Max is doing well at work! The family is blissful! Then, while Tara and Max are engaging in some foreplay, a gunshot sounds.
We learn the blast was from the family's next-door neighbor killing himself. After a strange Tara moment (which I'll talk about later), we meet the family's gay neighbors, Ted and Hanny, and everybody decides that they should get to know each other better.
We then get a little more information about the family, mostly that Kate is job-hunting with plans to go to college next year, and Tara is taking pills to stabilize her disease -- I think. Based on how much emphasis given last season over how medicating her DID screwed Tara up, I have to assume these aren't to control her mind. As a person who knows nothing about medicine, I'm confused. Also, I really liked the line, "Put on legal pants."
I thought the scene with Marshall and the "Fruit Bowl"/"Gayable" was overacted. Lionel, the painfully stereotypical angry gay teen, was really obnoxious (on the writers' part, not so much the actor's), though, I do like that he thinks Marshall is, "such a Jonas!" And the "straight, but not narrow" girl was cute.
Then we get into this whole gay carnations storyline, and Marshall summed up everything I was thinking about it. I so appreciate that he slows down the Diablo Cody pace of Tara, and I liked that, after seeing Lionel interact with the awful student council, Marshall learned that the purple carnations were a worthy cause, and took the initiative to hand them out himself. He's the best.
The Kate storyline was harmless enough. I love when shows have odd fake-Internet things, like the Craigslist-type site that she uses to find her collection agency job. She looked adorable in her spy clothes and, better yet, wasn't a huge brat when she learned that she wasn't going to be a secret agent of any kind. Kate is much more likable this season; everyone is, actually. Even Charmaine.
But not in the first episode. She and Nick were way too touchy in front of company and it's sort of unbearable to watch. Still, after last season's boob job fiasco, I'm happy for her newly founded joy and got a good chuckle in the engagement scene. It is so Charmaine to respond to a proposal by first asking if the ring is a princess cut, especially considering how drunk she was.
And I much as I love Toni Collette, I have no idea what to make of Tara at this point. She was acting freaking crazy in the suicide crime scene to the point that I thought she was a new alter or something. I just didn't buy that her first instinct would be some sort of sick satisfaction that she wasn't the most insane person on the street. I realized, though, that we didn't really get to know Tara in first season, because her life primarily consisted of turning into alters. It actually feels like I'm meeting her for the first time. She has so much of her alters' personalities and mannerisms in her-- when she was singing to herself in the kitchen and cooking, I really thought that she was Alice, and was relieved when she wasn't. Still, Tara's pretty obnoxious and actually very selfish, so I'm wondering what Max sees in her, exactly.
But I will say that watching Tara drunkenly walk through the neighbor's house was awesome and freaky. In fact, Tara herself was so spooked out that she turned into Buck. Who went back to the bar and flirted with the waitress! Part of me feels bad for Tara, since this is her first transition in months, but I like Buck.
There were a few disappointing things about "Yes." For starters, there was no Neil, which sucks because Patton Oswalt is terrific. Also, based on promos for this season, I was all ready to meet the new alter, but she hasn't popped up yet. Plus, this episode was sort of slow. Honestly, the pace is pretty slow for the first few episodes, but things start going faster... at some point. Unfortunately, I can't tell you at what point it speeds up because I was so glued to the mystery of Tara's past that I sat through the entire season in two days and now everything blurs together.
For those of you on the United States of Tara fence, I recommend giving season two a chance, as I was pretty blown away by what happened when the action picked up. While you're at it, get everyone you know to watch it, too, because I need a third season in order to feed my sick obsession with this show.
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