United States of Tara – Season 2
Showtime’s United States of Tara kicked off its second season in a happy way for the Gregson family. Tara (Collette) is under new medication, which proves to be successful — none of her alters have been emerging for about three months. Max (Corbett) is successful at his job, Charmaine (DeWitt) and Nick (Matthew Del Negroy) are ready to get married, Kate (Larson) has graduated early from high school, and Marshall (Gilchrist) meets a new gay friend, Lionel (Michael J. Willet).
Things seem fine and dandy for everyone until Tara’s alters reappear, bringing the total of alters to six now. Along with T, Buck, Alice, and the destructive Gimme, who was seen halfway through Season 1, Tara displays two new alters: psychologist Shoshana and Chicken, Tara’s 5-year-old self.
From the three seasons that United States of Tara aired, Season 2 is the most LGBT-friendly the show has ever been, with Buck having an affair with Pammy the bartender (Joey Lauren Adams) and still putting a good amount of focus on Tara’s son, Marshall. While Season 1 dealt with Marshall realizing he was gay, Season 2 has Marshall getting close to Lionel, dealing with their own issues — especially Lionel being way over-the-top and dramatic — and eventually becoming boyfriends.
Keir Gilchrist’s acting truly shined with Marshall’s well-developed character arc, especially during the second half of Season 2. He also had great heartfelt moments with John Corbett’s Max, who fully embraces his son for what he is. Marhsall had really great stuff that should have made Keir Gilchrist worthy of award nomination at the time, but the Supporting Actor – Comedy category is way too tough to get in for actors on cable shows, unfortunately.
Toni Collette is still great at playing Tara and dealing with her new alters. While Buck is still Tara’s most entertaining alter, I have to admit that Chicken was hilarious and Shoshana provided great conversations with Tara that helps her to learn more about herself and the origins of her DID disorder.
However, Season 2 is a slight step down from Season 1 despite its good moments, character growth and being the most LGBT-friendly season of the entire series. There were a few storylines that didn’t went anywhere such as the introduction of the Gregson family’s gay neighbors, which ended up being a waste of time. T wasn’t shown too often this season, which was unsettling considering T is a funny alter. Most of the things involving Kate were hit and miss. But the worst offender was Charmaine’s road to marriage storyline, which also involved Neil (Oswalt). The storyline wasn’t fully explored and resulted in a mess that dragged the show’s pacing and wasn’t engaging to watch when compared to the stuff involving the likes of Tara and Marshall.
All in all, Season 2 remains watchable thanks to Diablo Cody’s attempts at giving this season some serious depth to the characters, which was something United States of Tara really needed after Season 1.
Part of the 2012 LGBT Blogathon.
I’m a huge fan of the show and watched it from the beginning. I appreciate that they sought to tackle some tough issues and set out to show that, while life is complicated, the navigation of it is strengthened by the support of family.
There’s a huge hole to fill since Buck had been gone. I had a love/hate relationship with Lionel, though. I understood that he was “the only gay” in Marsh’s school and that it was natural to have them together because it was that “forced because they’re supposed to be the only ones,” he just rubbed me the wrong way most of the times.