PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.
Television

Gotta Be 'In Treatment'

Loss is a necessary part of life, sure, but must it be a necessary part of TV?

Anyone miss 2010? Anyone? No one?

Of course no one misses it! It was the year that that all the world’s people (with few exceptions) were plagued by unremitting anxiety and deep depression. And with good reason: the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the global economic downturn, climate change, and, yes, the angst-fest known as Black Swan (more on that later). Yet a small but ardent group of television viewers managed to hold on to hope and change for one more year. How? By watching fictional characters work through their anxiety and depression of course!

I’m referring to the third season of In Treatment, HBO’s shrink drama starring Gabriel Byrne. In my opinion, it was the best television show of 2010. As of now, however, HBO has not announced whether or not In Treatment will be returning for a fourth season in 2011, and the internet rumor mill has it that Byrne may have had enough of playing boundary-crossing, therapist-baiting, compassionate, arrogant, befuddled, all-too-human therapist Paul Weston.

If you’ve never seen In Treatment, picture this: two people in a room, one whining, the other nodding. Television doesn’t get any better than that! No, really, television doesn’t get any better than that. For three seasons now, what’s transpired in that room, especially between Paul and his first therapist Gina (played by Dianne Wiest) and then, this season, his new therapist (played by Amy Ryan) has been such gripping, compelling drama that it’s hard to imagine it may have come to an end.

So, here are just some of the reasons to hope for a Season Four:

In Treatment is a drama that knows it’s a drama.

This contrasts sharply with the two so-called dramas I saw in movie theaters this fall: The Town and Black Swan. The Town starts out as a reasonably good drama about a man trying to escape his criminal environment, but then it devolves into a shoot-em-up action flick that makes The Expendables seem believable. And what can I say about Black Swan that hasn’t already been said? (Apparently a lot, since it’s received tons of accolades and four major Golden Globe nominations.) All I know is that from the moment Barbara Hershey, who plays the psycho-mother of psycho-ballerina Natalie Portman, appears onscreen with her tautly pulled back black black hair against her white white skin, and the music attempts to deliver a Jaws look-out-shark-approaching moment, I had to put my popcorn down so I wouldn’t choke from laughing so hard. With In Treatment, I’m quite sure my emotional reactions were the ones the creators were manipulating me into having—and that’s a good thing.

In Treatment is obsession-worthy.

There’s nothing quite like an addictive television show being discussed by people addicted to discussing things online. The forums, blogs, and comments on websites like A.V. Club, Shrink Rap, and Salon revealed an obsessiveness (not to mention insight) on the part of In Treatment viewers unmatched by anything I’ve ever seen. Four episodes of the show each week followed by hours of online chatter is an obsessive’s dream come true!

Gabriel Byrne’s accent is hot.

It’s not just the irresistible Irish brogue, but the growl and snarl he injects into it.

Amy Ryan’s eyes are riveting.

This is an actress who can express more with her eyes than most actresses can with their entire bodies. Because her character Adele is a classically trained psychoanalyst, she’s not supposed to react to what her client says, but, rather, to simply reflect back the client’s thoughts and feelings to him or her. But because this is television and this is a show with a lot of extreme close-ups and Adele might or might not have romantic feelings for Paul, she needs to have some expression. What a fantastic challenge that must be for an actress, and Ryan handles it with such finesse. There’s the fluttering of her eyelashes when she’s responding to Paul’s condescension with a rejoinder, the upward eye tilt when she’s thinking of something particularly insightful, and, most importantly, the ever-so-slight widening of the eyes in response to Paul’s sudden declaration of love. Watch just one episode, and you’ll see a master class in understated acting.

Loss is a necessary part of life, sure, but must it be a necessary part of TV?

We’ve already bid adieu over the years to HBO’s Sex and the City, The Sopranos, and The Wire. Having to say goodbye to In Treatment would stir up serious loss and abandonment issues, and, ironically, we won’t know how to deal with them without In Treatment to turn to.

So, HBO and Gabriel Byrne, if you care about quality television, mental health, and providing Amy Ryan with a dramatic television role worthy of her talents, bring back In Treatment in 2011!

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Film

The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.

Music

British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.

Film

Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.

Music

​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.

Music

The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.

Music

Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.

Television

How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.

Music

Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.

Music

CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.

Music

Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.

Music

While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.

Music

Peter Frampton Asks "Do You Feel Like I Do?" in Rock-Solid Book on Storied Career

British rocker Peter Frampton grew up fast before reaching meteoric heights with Frampton Comes Alive! Now the 70-year-old Grammy-winning artist facing a degenerative muscle condition looks back on his life in his new memoir and this revealing interview.

Books

Bishakh Som's 'Spellbound' Is an Innovative Take on the Graphic Memoir

Bishakh's Som's graphic memoir, Spellbound, serves as a reminder that trans memoirs need not hinge on transition narratives, or at least not on the ones we are used to seeing.

Music

Gamblers' Michael McManus Discusses Religion, Addiction, and the Importance of Writing Open-Ended Songs

Seductively approachable, Gamblers' sunny sound masks the tragedy and despair that populate the band's debut album.

Books

Peter Guralnick's 'Looking to Get Lost' Is an Ode to the Pleasures of Writing About Music

Peter Guralnick's homage to writing about music, 'Looking to Get Lost', shows how good music writing gets the music into the readers' head.

Film

In Praise of the Artifice in George Cukor's 'Sylvia Scarlett'

George Cukor's gender-bending Sylvia Scarlett proposes a heroine who learns nothing from her cross-gendered ordeal.

Music

The Cure: Ranking the Albums From 13 to 1

Just about every Cure album is worth picking up, and even those ranked lowest boast worthwhile moments. Here are their albums, spanning 29 years, presented from worst to best.

Television

The 20 Best Episodes of 'Star Trek: The Original Series'

This is a timeless list of 20 thrilling Star Trek episodes that delight, excite, and entertain, all the while exploring the deepest aspects of the human condition and questioning our place in the universe.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.