TV review: United States of Tara

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Let's talk Season 2 of "United States of Tara." As bothersome as the finale's lickety-split revelation about the cause of Tara's (Toni Collette) dissociative identity disorder was - that's way too important to just throw out there - it was nothing compared to the frustrating story arcs for the show's supporting cast.

Those characters are well-acted and were so well-executed in the first season, even if they were largely motivated by Tara and her alter-egos' actions, that Season 2's falloff was very disappointing.

See, for a series that receives most of its attention for Collette's incredible ability to play seven different characters, its central premise is actually how her family is affected by her multiple personality disorder.

Thankfully, Season 3 imparts Tara's husband, Max (John Corbett), eight-month pregnant sister, Charmaine (Rosemarie DeWitt), and precocious teenagers Marshall (an excellent Keir Gilchrist) and Kate (an underused Brie Larson) with improved storylines.

We meet some of Max's "crazy" family, and he's presented with a career opportunity that's problematic. And Marshall realizes being in an open homosexual relationship isn't easy.

Larson finally gets a chance to shine, and she absolutely nails a scene in the second episode with Tara's teenage alter, T. Kate is still impetuous, but it's mostly used for humorous comeuppance instead of melodrama.

The best moments come from Charmaine and her baby daddy, Neil (Patton Oswalt), who have fantastic chemistry and get well-deserved screen time. Oswalt is especially adept at comedic anguish.

While supporting characters continue to evolve, the story of Tara's return to college feels somewhat repetitive. I do love that Eddie Izzard is her psychology teacher, though.

Still, "United States of Tara" is more ensemble-oriented than ever, and it's working very well.

United States of Tara

10:30 p.m. Mondays on Showtime

3.5 stars