In Treatment is HBO’s ambitious new half hour drama. Basically it’s a drama that airs every week night for eight weeks, in which one episode details on session between a a character and their psychotherapist (with each night belonging to a different character). That’s forty episodes of new content, which in this dire time is just too good to pass up.
Of course a nightly show can be quite the commitment. As such I didn’t catch a single episode for the debut week. Fortunately for me HBO put the entire week On Demand so that I could watch at my leisure and in a marathon session.
Mondays belong to Laura (Melissa George) who has a thing for her therapist Paul (Gabriel Byrne). Actually it’s more than “a thing” it’s an infatuation and it rears it’s head in her first episode. She’s in a rocky relationship with a boyfriend who want her to either commit to marriage or quit the relationship, an ultimatum that drives her to adultery.
Alex (Blair Underwood) has his sessions on Tuesdays and the first one is electric. Alex is a Navy pilot who’s responsible for bombing a school because of faulty intel, but denies his responsibility. Because of his action he’s got a bounty on his head. He’s also a guy who’s come back from being clinically dead and strives for perfection. His session is impossible to turn away from as he’s almost antagonistic with Paul.
Wednesdays are when Sophia (Mia Wasikowska) has her sessions with Paul. Mia is a bandaged gymnast who may be suicidal. She’s had two incidents involving her and traffic and she’s evasive to say the least. She’s only there to in response to an insurance company claim. She also happens to be a former classmate of Paul’s daughter. And there’s a chance she’s got a crush on her coach.
Jake (Josh Charles) and Amy (Embeth Davidtz) have sessions on Thursdays. They are a couple meeting to decide wether to abort a pregnancy or not. This is a pregnancy that they’d been seeing a fertility specialist for five years to make. Amy is a manipulative professional, who’s already had a child and a previous marriage. Jake seems to have an inferiority complex and is paranoid that Amy’s unfaithful to him, because they had an affair during her previous marriage. And it doesn’t help that Amy is less than honest.
Friday is when Paul sits down with his mentor Gina (Dianne Wiest) to discuss his life. He discusses his failings as a therapist and his fears that wife is having an affair. He’s combative when she asks prods him with questions. And their past, particularly their less than pleasant split, comes up.
I’ve got to admit that after my lukewarm reaction to Tell Me You Love Me I was a bit hesitant about trying In Treatment, but having watched the first five episodes I’m sold. At the very least Paul’s patients intrigue me at as best I love them. The writers and actors have given the characters so much life that after one half hour episode you can’t help but feel invested in them.
It’s stark in setting yet vivid in character. It’s like a soap opera for intelligent people. It’s Tell Me You Love Me with personality. In Treatment is groundbreaking, innovative and hopefully a return to form for HBO original series.