advertisement
advertisement

Work/Life: HBO’s “In Treatment”–There’s Room On the Couch For All of Us

 

advertisement
advertisement

 

advertisement
  • I don’t know if you’ve been drawn into “In Treatment” theway I have; perhaps it fulfills one’s need to feel better by getting a glimpseof people who are worse off than you, or perhaps it is just pretty darn welldone.  Either way, or both ways, itis worth noting that in a show devoted to the therapeutic process, every singleone of the five storylines involves a work/life imbalance.
  • On Mondays, Paul (the shrink, who is himself married to anunfaithful spouse) sees a young woman who confesses her romantic feelings forhim in session, sending our hero into a spiral of confusion over his role inthe workplace (as of this writing, he has handled it without destroying anylives, but we all know that’s what season finales are for).   On Tuesdays, Paul treats a Navypilot unwilling to admit that he has been traumatized both by dropping a bombon civilians and by his overachieving father (whom we meet in a later episodeand soon discover he has issues of his own).  Wednesday brings a teenage gymnast to Paul’s office, drivento intense adolescent dysfunction by the pressures of being an Olympichopeful.  Thursday means couplescounseling, and the workaholic wife who feels obliged to humiliate herunder-achieving husband.  Finally,on Fridays, the shrink gets shrunk by another shrink, although it is clear fromthe get-go that it is difficult for both of them to keep their professionallives out of the discussion.  
  • In a “reality”-driven media landscape littered with peoplewho routinely sink to new lows in order to achieve notoriety, it often seemslike the idea of work/life balance is given short shrift.  I certainly don’t claim that thecreators of “In Treatment” even thought about this common thread in theirprogram, perhaps seeing the storylines as providing good drama and nothingmore.  But, lo and behold, all theproblems these folks are facing can be traced to not knowing when to quit.   Granted, it would not make nearlyas enticing a television program to plunk one of us lightweights down in ananalyst’s office and have us confess that we ordered in at the office after 9pmagain.  After all, confessing sucha thing in the early stages could lead to some progress, and progress will nothelp glue any eyeballs to any television sets.  Let’s face it; do we tune in to watch somebody realize whata jerk they’re being and happily depart with the resolve to be more open andloving?  No way!  We watch shows like “In Treatment” towatch people melt down, just like we know we might one day if we don’t, well,get treatment. 
  • Ironies abound. Not the least of which is the fact that most television shows are madeon a grueling schedule that allows cast and crew virtually no time to spendwith their loved ones.  So, thevery people allowing me to implode vicariously through a cast of troubledmisfits may well be headed for the very same psychotic break their fictionalcharacters are playing out for them every day on the set.  Oh, well.  I guess that means that, unlike most of us who arestruggling with work/life issues, their gradual mental disintegration is fullycatered.