by Richard Raubolt
This will be a brief review of “In Treatment.” This is perhaps a review I shouldn’t write as I saw only the first week of the show and an odd episode (pun intended) here and there. Then again the decision not to continue watching says something. This something maybe what Mac picked up on in his paper when I referred to the show as “The Treatment” rather than “In Treatment.”
Despite my attempts, I couldn’t get past Paul. He was spilling over everywhere, on to his patients, wife, and supervisor/therapist. Of course as analyst (?), therapist (?) he occupied center stage, for without this character there would be no show. It is the way that he occupied this stage that turned me and then my television off. What I objected to was that he filled the spaces with himself, for himself. I did not feel moved by his interpretations, that is, I didn’t experience them as “genuine” or at least as genuine as one can be while acting a part.
Paul couldn’t do as Jonathan suggested in facing Laura’s erotic transference in the first episode. He was not there WITH her and hadn’t been for the last year. Being outside and objectifying “the” treatment he could only say “no.” Paul could not go with Laura’s experience of love to explore the implications of these feelings, as his preoccupation of his own feelings, I believe, were paramount.
With Paul there was a remoteness and detachment in his words while his posture and eyes seemed to be saying the opposite. Perhaps this disconnect is why his patients were so aggressive toward him as Mac points out. While desperate and in pain they may also have felt the vacancy of his responses. I didn’t have the sense he really cared about them but was only doing his job=the treatment. The therapy portrayed was delivered long distance. Paul, to my viewing, was not IN the treatment with his patients.
The “session” that ended the series for me was the first meeting Paul had with Gina, his former therapist/supervisor. After, what, twelve years, he comes in the back door (how symbolic) neglecting how much turmoil he helped create in this relationship. His sheepishness at being challenged was unconvincing. Once there he couldn’t say what he wanted but didn’t want what Gina offered him. A bit of jousting, hurt feelings, animosity on both sides and little willingness to understand or empathize with each other was what I saw before I hit the off button.
Maybe the show improved over the weeks that followed. Others will have to judge if that is true as I moved over to another of HBO’s shows,” The Wire”, which I found much more compelling and psychologically minded.