United States of Tara I guess it's a measure of how well-done United States of Tara is that I kept worrying about the emotional health of the two children… United States of Tara I guess it's a measure of how well-done United States of Tara is that I kept worrying about the emotional health of the two children… 2009-01-18 Comedy Toni Colette John Corbett Brie Larson Showtime Networks Inc.
TV Review

United States of Tara (2009)

United States of Tara | Toni Colette stars in United States of Tara with John Corbett
Image credit: Jordin Althaus/Showtime
Toni Colette stars in United States of Tara with John Corbett
EW's GRADE
B+

Details Start Date: Jan 18, 2009; Genre: Comedy; With: Toni Colette and John Corbett; Network: Showtime Networks Inc.

I guess it's a measure of how well-done United States of Tara is that I kept worrying about the emotional health of the two children being raised by Toni Collette's Tara, who's afflicted with a multiple personality disorder. Tara, a Kansas interior designer, 
responds to pressures in her life by becoming prissy homebody Alice, randy teen T,
 or male horndog Buck. Collette does this through sheer bravura acting and the appropriate clothes — it's stunning work. So is the writing by Diablo Cody (Juno, and EW columnist, of course), whose gift for delineating both plot and character through vivid comic dialogue suggests an ambition to be the heir to great movie writers like Preston Sturges (Sullivan's Travels) and Ernest Lehman (Sabrina).

Tara's household consists of husband Max (Sex and the City's John Corbett) and teens Kate (Brie Larson) and Marshall (Keir Gilchrist), who says to his mother—half-proudly, half-woefully—''Because of you, we get to be interesting.'' If you can buy the series' outlandish premise that this family can coexist, perhaps even thrive, without any assurance of who Tara may turn into at any moment, then you're in for an odd, funny, moving experience. The fragile kids here are so vividly portrayed, my pleasure was complicated by the idea that Tara-the-show is transfixing, but Tara-the-mom really ought to go back on her mood-steadying meds. B+

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Originally posted Jan 21, 2009 Published in issue #1032-1033 Jan 30, 2009 Order article reprints