• Post category:Television
  • Post last modified:July 14, 2021

In Treatment: Pushing Patients

Iā€™ve never been in therapy, but have always been curious about it. I do have a friend who was simply unable to put a destructive relationship behind him once and for all. What went on during the therapy sessions concerns only him and his doctor, but it was obvious that things would not look up after just two or three visits. It takes much longer to find a path forward, and requires a lot of hard work from both patient and therapist. This critically lauded TV series invited an audience on that long, meticulous journey.

ReceivingĀ patients in his Baltimore home
In TreatmentĀ 
initially ran for three seasons and starred Gabriel Byrne as Dr. Paul Weston, a middle-aged, married psychoanalyst who received patients in a private office in his Baltimore home; the second and third seasons relocated Paul to Brooklyn after his divorce.Ā The fourth one introduced us to Brooke Taylor (Uzo Aduba), an alcoholic therapist who was thinking about tracking down the son she had but didnā€™t raise. Each episode was a half hour long and there were five of them a week (four in the third season), giving viewers one session with a different patient a day.

The last day of the week put the shrink on the couch, with Paul attending sessions with Gina Toll (Dianne Wiest), a colleague he knew well and had an antagonistic relationship with, and later a new therapist (Amy Ryan); Brooke met with Rita (Liza ColĆ³n-Zayas), her AA sponsor.Ā The patients varied a lot, from troubled teenagers to older men facing crises they were reluctant to even recognize.

Simple settings
In Treatment
began as an Israeli TV series, BeTipul (2005-2008), and was then adapted by the Colombian filmmaker Rodrigo Garcia, who had directed other HBO shows, for American audiences.Ā 
The settings were simple, just the therapistsā€™ offices. The show demanded a lot from its writers and cast; each patient, including Paul and Brooke, had an emotional journey to complete every season and the keys to their feelings and problems lay in the abundant dialogue. Paul and Brooke always pushed their patients, leading to revealing moments of lingering irritation and explosive anger. Not every patient interested you as a viewer, but hey, a new one was waiting the following evening.Ā 

The problems were complex; some of the cases that intrigued me the most included a fighter pilot who was hiding a lot behind his cocky shell, a suicidal teenaged gymnast, a high-powered CEO who was suffering from panic attacks and an Indian man, living in New York with his son and daughter-in-law, who was showing disturbing signs of violence.

The cast was a brilliant mix of new talents, including future stars like Mia Wasikowska (amazing as the gymnast) and Dane DeHaan, and veterans like Debra Winger and John Mahoney (also amazing as the CEO). Byrne himself carried a big load and we certainly got a better understanding of Paul over the years, his flaws and virtues. The latter were usually revealed in his role as therapist, but the former materialized in his fiery exchanges with Gina and his odd sessions with the new therapist in season 3, where his behavior around this attractive woman showed him as unable to move beyond a childish infatuation with her ā€“ leading to a surprising, but still logical, conclusion to the Paul-centric part of the series.

At its best, In Treatment reminded me of my own mortality. Partly because of where the different patients were in life and how they handled their youth or old age, but also because of Paul and Brooke and their search for fulfillment. I certainly could relate, not least to a feeling of loneliness within Brooke.

In Treatment 2008-2010, 2021:U.S. Made for TV. 130 episodes. Color. Developed byĀ Rodrigo Garcia. Cast:Ā Gabriel Byrne (Paul Weston, 08-10), Uzo Aduba (Brooke Taylor, 21), Dianne Wiest (Gina Toll, 08-09), Michelle Forbes (08-09), Melissa George (08), Blair Underwood (08), Mia Wasikowska (08), Embeth Davidtz (08), Josh Charles (08), Hope Davis (09), Alison Pill (09), John Mahoney (09), Aaron Shaw (09), Irrfan Khan (10), Debra Winger (10), Dane DeHaan (10), Amy Ryan (10), Anthony Ramos (21), John Benjamin Hickey (21), Quintessa Swindel (21), Liza ColĆ³n-Zayas (21), Joel Kinnaman (21).

Trivia: BeTipul has been adapted into TV shows in many other countries.

Emmys: Outstanding Supporting Actress (Wiest) 08-09; Guest Actor (Glynn Turman) 08-09. Golden Globe: Best Actor (Byrne) 09.

Last word: “Iā€™m much more interested in the psychotherapist as actor than in the actor as psychotherapist.Ā People will say to you sometimes, ā€˜Acting! How do you do that? Itā€™s a really difficult job.ā€™ But the reality is, we act all the time. True individual moments of intimacy throughout the day, when are they? So when a man is in a chair and he has to listen to somebody elseā€™s story ā€“ I often wonder how much of that story we take on.ā€ (Byrne, New York Magazine)



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