“United States of Tara” mini-cap: Look who’s talking

If you’ve read many new age self-help books, you’re probably familiar with the opinion that the best counselor you can ever have is your higher self. But this week on United States of Tara, Tara takes that belief a little too literally.

After last week’s very public revelation that Tara’s alters, specifically Buck, are active again, Max has been expressing hidden sides of his own personality in very physical ways. First, he beats up a contractor who took deposit money for a job and didn’t show up to do it. Then he sets about demolishing the house he’s remodeling — with a violence that suggests that he is not the picture of mental health himself.

But Max loves Tara, so he comes around — literally, with Tara in the back yard of the aforementioned house — after insisting that his wife get help.

We all know that good help is hard to find, especially when it comes to finding a shrink equipped to treat DID in small-town Kansas. To help Tara get some direction, gay neighbor Ted gives her a book, You Becoming You, by his own brilliant New York therapist, Shoshana Schoenbaum.

Tara is so impressed with Schoenbaum that she decides to get in touch with her — in a way that only Tara can.

Meet Tara’s new alter: Dr. Shoshana Schoenbaum.

Tara finds an office in the house next door that looks like something out of the Sixties, complete with rotary phone. As she plays with the dial the sound triggers a flashback of a scene from childhood with Charmaine, Tara and an unseen, very Alice-like ’60s housewife, “Mimi.” The memory sparks terror — and the new personality.

Tara reports to Max that Dr. Schoenbaum’s book has been so helpful that she got in touch with the doctor and arranged Skype therapy sessions. But near the end of the episode, Max overhears Tara’s voice coming from the office and opens the door to find Shoshana/Tara, conducting a phone session and none too happy about the interruption.

This alter has an intriguing twist. From what we know, Tara really thinks that she is getting therapy from Dr. Schoenbaum, who is actually a real person in the show’s universe. Of course, the alter is based on Tara’s perception of the doctor; still, the idea of an alter based on an actual person is not something I’ve seen before. And Tara believes that Dr. Schoenbaum is helping her, so on some level they are interacting with each other. What is to come should be interesting.

In other developments, Marshall had sex with his girlfriend Courtney, leading to his knowing, beyond a doubt, that he is gay. Sex with the wrong gender works every time. His coming out is fully recapped over at AfterElton.com.

I have to note, though, that I totally disagree with Michael’s assessment of this season of Tara. I loved Season 1, to be sure, but I think Season 2 is even better. (Well, except for the part in this episode when we had to see John Corbett’s bare butt.) I love the fact that all of Tara’s family have storylines this year; I think getting to know the other characters in the show adds depth to the exploration of DID. Let me know in the comments whether you agree.

I do, however, concur with AfterElton.com that Marshall’s storyline is realistic and well played. And I especially liked the scene in which Max told Tara about his conversation with Marshall.

Max: Marshall came out to me tonight.
Tara: Officially? Aw, Marshmallow. How did you take it?
Max: I don’t know … I guess it gave me some hope.

Marshall’s coming out gives me hope, too. Perhaps TV finally is starting to get it right.

What did you think of this week’s United States of Tara? How do you think Shoshana’s appearance will affect the family?