Posts Tagged ‘United States of Tara’

Since we are just under three months to Captain Marvel‘s release date, I thought I would try to ramp up the writing a bit, so here I am, dipping my toe into Brie Larson’s TV career, basically tackling the Showtime series, The United States of Tara. Before I get to that, however, another Inside Look (basically a shorter trailer) for Captain Marvel that I scoffed from IMDB.: Go here to be entertained. (I should really shell out for the upgraded version where I get to embed things.)

Also, please consider joining the Captain Marvel Challenge. Last year, Frederick Joseph started a Gofundme campaign to help kids from Harlem see Black Panther, and this year he’s starting a similar one for young girls for Captain Marvel. This particular campaign has raised over $45,000 so far, but there are tons of smaller ones that need your support.

Now, on with the ranting…

Back in 2009 (ten freaking years ago!), Larson got what I think could be considered a big break (also read as a regular paycheck) when she played Toni Collette’s daughter in the series The United States of Tara, a show I knew nothing about until a couple hours ago. If you’re like me, let me give you a quick rundown; Collette plays Tara, a suburban housewife who suffers from dissociative identity disorder. I had to look it up, too, but it used to be called multiple personality disorder. Tara has a lot of people in her mind, and apparently doesn’t even know what they are doing when they are in control. I have only watched a couple episodes, but it seems like some kind of trauma caused it, and it also seems like she doesn’t know what that trauma was. Interestingly enough, as the series begins, Tara’s family is kind of okay with it, because it’s just part of their lives. One of her “alters,” as they are called, T, is actually pretty close with Larson’s character, Kate. The only real alter who seems to be creating trouble is the male one, who is a total redneck and causes all sorts of problems (as men tend to do.).

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Toni Collette as “Buck”

Because this show is executive-produced by Jill Soloway, who was the writer of many of my favorite episodes of Six Feet Under (and went on to create Transparent, among other things), there are cool moments when Tara talks to her alters as if they are real people, much like characters on Six Feet Under would talk to dead people, and not in a Sixth Sense-way, but in a all-in-their-heads-way. The similarities don’t stop there, in fact. the way the characters developed reminded me a lot of SFU, as well as other Premium cable shows that were popular in the early-2000’s.

Watching this show kind of brought me back to that glorious time, in fact. All the Premuim Cable networks like HBO and Showtime were hitting their creative stride after shows like The Sopranos, Queer as Folk and The Wire won critical acclaim, and this was before every other network decided, “We can do that, too.” And this was also before streaming services came along and diluted the market even more. Now, everyone has a show, and of course, some of them are excellent, but to me, it’s sort of similar to expansion in major league sports. Like, are there really enough great pitchers in the world for 30 teams to each have a staff of twelve?

Because this was pre-saturation, it’s interesting to watch it now and see the difference. It’s hard to describe, really, but the pacing seemed different. The characters and storylines could breathe a little more because the creators did’t feel like they had to grab you within the first five seconds or you could just turn it off and watch one of the other five thousand binge-able shows that are on. It was also sort of like visiting old friends, because a lot of the same actors were traded about among the few really good shows. United States of Tara starred John Corbett, who played Aiden Shaw on Sex in the City, but also appearances by Frances Conroy (Ruth Fisher on SFU), Tony Hale (Buster on Arrested Development, and soon-to-be Veep), and Patton Oswalt, who always plays Patton Oswalt.

However, as far as Brie Larson goes, she was still on her way up, so she plays the teenage daughter in this dysfunctional family. Much like Claire (Lauren Ambrose) on SFU, she is at that age where she is transitioning into adulthood, and dealing with the many trials downloadthat brings. The cool thing about her character is that she plays against type a little, because she’s actually really smart and ambitious, even graduating from high school early in the second season’s debut episode. She is not portrayed as one of the girlfriends from the Big Bang Theory, however, but someone who is actually kind of cool, funny, attractive, and yet just also happens to be intelligent. It was pretty refreshing to see for a┬áteenage girl on a television show to be portrayed like an actual person rather than a stereotype. (Although, from the pictures I’ve seen, she appearsdownloadto go on to portray The Princess of Valhalla, so maybe I should watch more before I make these assumptions. And so, we get what amounted her her first go-round as a super-hero.)

 

From what I have seen, great writing created this character, but great acting still had to mold it. Of course, we all know that Larson would go on to win an Oscar, but she had to learn those skills somewhere, and I’m betting that being a regular on a quality TV show where she had to really get inside this girl’s head for month’s at a time is where she picked up a thing or two about acting. Not that she wasn’t good before, but it just seems like a logical next step. We’ve seen it with Viola Davis, Alison Janney, Jared Leto, Hell, even Tom Hanks started out on Bosom Buddies.

I’m not really sure if we’re still in the Golden Age of Television or not, although I know some people still believe it. I think there’s just too much noise out there. But i do believe we’re in the golden age of actors, where people can ply their trade by becoming a character for years on a quality show before going out and proving themselves on the grand stage of the big screen (let’s face it, the Emmy’s will never be as big as the Oscars.) There was a time, not that long ago, when the actor’s creed was to never do a TV series, because it would mean the end of your career. Now, it has become the doorway. Not just to get noticed, but to get good. It’s a place where a young intelligent actor can play a young, intelligent character, even play a faux-super-hero, before going on to play a real one.

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