Making the Case: In Treatment
I am sad to see this show go. It probably lasted one season too long, but I loved it anyway. This show is a high concept show that answers the question: What happens when the therapist’s door closes? What’s on the other side of that wall? It’s voyeristic and intense. It’s sometimes playful and always dancing around a core issue, sometimes never dealing with that issue…ever.
This show is a cocktease of character. With little exception, it takes place solely in Gabriel Byrne’s office. It gives you an intense look at the patients lives but only from a limited scope. You are left to deduce what is real and what is fake. What is important information and what is simply avoidance of another, more disturbing topic. You become the psychotherapist, and you start diagnosing these patients.
The filming of the show just adds to the intensity. Really the only set is the office room. There is no cut away, nothing to cut you. The camera has a way of just staying on an actor to give you the tiny glimpses of what makes them unique. I couldn’t imagine what it must have been like for the actors on that show. You have to maintain such a level of submersion in the character for such an extended period of time that it must be exhausting.
The format of the show is also pretty unique. This show ran 4 days a week. I don’t know of many fictional shows that could keep up that pace. Each day was a different session, with the final day being Gabriel Byrne’s session with his therapist. That session was often the most intense. In the other sessions, Byrne is simply trying to do his job, maintain a inscrutable façade while digging in to the other person. When you see him in therapy you get to see, at least some of what he is feeling during the sessions. It adds a succulent layer of context to the whole show. It also adds a layer of suspense, because we are allowed to know how screwed up Byrne can be.
One final note about this show. Gabriel Byrne is the only actor that is officially listed on the IMDB page, but here is some awesome talent you will get to see:
Dianne Wiest (you will be my movie mom)
Michelle Forbes (the only woman I would ever marry)
Sonya Walger (LOST)
Mae Whitman (Scott Pilgram)
Hope Davis (I know her from Charlie Bartlett but you might know her from About Schmidt)
That’s it really. I know that this show is available on HBO GO. No one actually has that, and you can’t sign up for it without already having HBO (therefore it’s kind of useless). It’s available, DVD only, on Netflix. You can give that a try if you like but do try and get your hands on it. It’s worth your time.