United States of Tara: The Third Season

United States of Tara: The Third Season
Despite rock solid performances across the board, consistently amusing dialogue and an abundance of clever scenarios utilizing the mental illness template, United States of Tara was cancelled after its third season due to poor ratings. As proven with the cancellation of virtually every quality program before they've run their course, this has more to do with a cultural evolutionary low ― wherein insipid karaoke and dance competitions, along with expository "fill in the blank" procedurals, reign ― than with the series itself. Much like the first two seasons, this third and final one finds the Gregson family struggling to adapt to rigid social institutions that repress and reject the individual. This is exceedingly problematic considering that Tara (Toni Collette) has DID, son Marshall (Keir Gilchrist) is homosexual and daughter Kate (Brie Larson) is exceedingly honest and openly defiant of the status quo. This time out, Tara has decided to go to college, where her abnormal psychology professor, Dr. Hattarras (Eddie Izzard), perceives her with some type of lab mouse amusement. Meanwhile, husband Max (John Corbett) has been forced into a corporate gig after his landscaping business goes belly up, which is particularly stressful for best friend and sole employee Neil (Patton Oswalt), who's just had a baby with Tara's sister, Charmaine (Rosemarie DeWitt). For the first half of the season, Tara's dalliance with college and Charmaine's atypical experience with pregnancy and motherhood work to reiterate and expand the characterizations of adult victims of abuse awkwardly adapting to seeming normalcy. But later on, when a new alter ego enters Tara's lexicon, killing off her existing alters, the series rushes through too many issues in too short a time. It still makes for compelling entertainment, but some of the consistency is lost in trying to change the characters too rapidly. Furthermore, Marshall and Kate have weak storylines this season, with Marshall endlessly whining about being gay and Kate mooning over some regular passenger after getting a flight attendant gig. Still, even with these flaws there's an abundance of laugh out loud moments and psychologically complex character developments that more than compensate for any shortcomings. It's just a shame that we won't be able to see where life leads the Gregson clan next and that the DVD set includes no supplements. But, hey, Grey's Anatomy is coming back for an eighth season. (Paramount)