Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Searching For Signal: #112 - “United States of Tara” - Season 2, Episode 1

So we start off with Tara and the family standing outside one of those metal box things where you can drop off “gently used” clothing so they can be recycled into society. As the family chatters, we learn that Tara has been on her meds for the last three months and she hasn’t transitioned a single time. So she’s decided to do some spring cleaning and get rid of the outfits the “alters” would wear when they surfaced. She no longer needs five wardrobes, just the one is good enough, thank you very much.

Then we have a lovely montage, full of happy family members doing cutesy things. Everybody’s singing and dancing and getting along and not acting the least bit dysfunctional, which saddens me slightly because it was the dysfunction junction that made things so much fun in the first place. (And what’s up with Charmaine’s boyfriend looking kind of hot? I don’t remember that from last season. Did they change actors or did I just not pay attention?)

Anyway, the happy scenes go on way longer than they should, to the point where I move beyond sadness to annoyance. I don’t want to watch “The Brady Bunch Is Better Than Your Family”. I want awkward moments and biting dialogue where someone says something basically cruel but it’s still hysterical. OMG, did someone fire Diablo Cody?

No worries. We quickly take the Twisted Exit off the Sunshine Highway and we get back to where we once belonged. Gunshots ring out somewhere in Tara’s neighborhood and the family races outside to see who’s being noisy and unruly. (As opposed to the normal routine, where the rest of the neighborhood is constantly racing to Tara’s house to see which personality has done what, how much there damage might be, and whether or not the scoop is worth a Facebook update.)

Turns out that some guy killed himself in a nearby house. While I’m sure this is really tragic, the real reason we have this scene is to allow Tara and Max and the chilluns to meet “The Gays”, the requisite alternative-lifestyle family that always shows up these days on TV series centered around a neighborhood. Tara takes a shine to the witty duo, and suggests that they “meet for a meal”. Of course you should, Tara. You’re simply not hip unless you’re in with The Gays. Don’t leave home without them.

Then it’s the next morning, and the Gregor family is in full dysfunctional mode while they work their way through breakfast, and I can finally relax. Tara is already making subtle hints that she might transition, Marshall is doing something absurd with pancakes and fruit, Kate is being rude as hell whilst wearing revealing pajama-wear, and Max is just looking forlorn, trying to get through the ordeal and constantly waiting for Sarah Jessica Parker to show up and say that she really, really wanted HIM instead of Mr. Big.

Cut to the local high school, where Marshall is wandering around the cafeteria with his pathetic little tray, trying to decide the least-implosive place to sit. As he passes the table where the gays hang out (is there a theme going on here?), he’s accosted by a young queen that’s never met a bottle of bleach that he didn’t like, with a peroxide hair-don’t that could help planes land in the dark.

Marshall decides to join them at this “gayble“, and then we get into a very political discussion that appears to involve flowers. It seems the activist gays want to overthrow society by forcing the Student Council to allow the distribution of purple carnations, in addition to the standard red, pink and white variety, during the annual “send your friends and possible lovers a flower” extravaganza.

Marshall: “Why don’t you just send your boyfriend a red one if you want? It still means love.”

Good point. But this does not sit well with most of table, including the requisite straight girl who then proceeds to make an eye-opening reference to that one time at band camp, while the others nod knowingly. These people are just angry.

Quick scene with daughter Kate looking for a job online. She seems very excited about a position that appears to involve espionage, danger and potential disappointment. I didn’t realize my company was hiring.

Tara and the family finally have The Gays over for dinner. This turns into an awkward-fest, especially when Tara insists on standing up and doing a song-and-dance routine, which is SO not Tara. Then one of The Gays tells a purposeless story from his youth where he was in an “agricultural pageant” and played a bad soybean.

I don’t even have a come-back for that one.

Moving on, we have a brief scene with sister Kate showing brother Marshall her intended outfit for the questionable job interview she has. It’s skimpy and entirely black, making her look like Undercover Slut Woman. Marshall trembles with unease and foreboding.

Back to the party downstairs, where Tara is entranced with some gossip from The Gays. It seems like this “Mr. Hubbard” that killed himself tried several different violent ways of ending his life before succeeding with the gun. Tara is overly fascinated with the dead man’s struggle, practically salivating as the tea is spilled. (Am I the only one realizing that the “alters” are fighting toward the surface?)

Kate shows up for her job interview, and learns that this company is really a debt collection agency where her salary is strongly based on her ability to get losers to pay their bills. Interestingly enough, she seems somewhat turned-on by this concept. Then again, Kate has lived her life by making fun of people in desperate situations. Maybe this is her dream job after all.

Quick scene with Marshall walking down the hallway at school, and overhearing the Student Council rejecting the Bitter Queen’s concept of purple carnations. Slight pause for reflection. What really IS important? And to whom?

Back to the Gregor household, where Tara and Max are surprised when the sister of the dead guy shows up at their door. She was hoping that they could keep an eye on her brother’s house, and she hands over the keys to the kingdom. (Seems a bit forward of the woman if you ask me. And shouldn’t she be concerned about the twelve different names on the mailbox?)

Cut to Charmaine and her now-hot boyfriend at some restaurant. She’s just returning from the comfort station, and he’s pulled the old “engagement ring in the champagne glass” routine. She discovers the jewelry, and unbridled enthusiasm ensues. Sadly, in the midst of the festivities, hot-boy grins broadly, and we learn that he has at 4,000 very big teeth. My thoughts toward him change from lust to abject fear. I don’t want that mouth anywhere near me. Everything has changed.

Now we have a scene with Tara and Max, running off to one of the local beer joints. There’s a brief bit of a squabble when Max openly flirts with the waitress, and Tara is not really impressed with that, but Max blows it off by explaining that the waitress “knows he’s here with his lady.” The thing he really wants to focus on is that he wants to buy the dead man’s house.

What? Why?

Cut to some point later in time, where we see Tara using the sister’s keys to get into said dead man’s house. She takes off her shoes (clear warning sign that something is horribly wrong) and then she wanders about, fondling things, including the stripped-down bed where the man used to lay. Creepy.

Then we have Marshall arriving at school, with the assistance of dad Max, carrying a ton of purple carnations. Marshall then proceeds to hand them out to all the gay kids and anybody else who will take them. Really liked that bit.

Quick scene with Kate at her new job, where she’s apparently very successful. Establishing a payment plan for the downtrodden is her life’s calling.

Another scene with Tara in the dead man’s house. She’s sitting at a desk in what appears to be a home office. Suddenly, she leaps to her feet and rips open a closet.

Trauma is everywhere, people. Heed the signs. You don’t open the closets of strangers unless you intend to transition. Word.

Later that night, Max is asleep in bed, probably dreaming of Sarah Jessica Parker who only has one personality. Tara is not sleeping, instead standing beside the bed and staring out a window at the dead man’s house. Mournful music is playing on the soundtrack to ensure we understand that she is troubled in some way.

Final scene has Tara wandering into the local beer joint, in full Buck mode (guess the meds aren’t working, and that s/he raided the clothing drop-off box in the first scene). Tara/Buck approaches the flirty waitress and starts with the sweet lovin. Waitress gal, despite the fact that she surely recognizes Tara from her previous visit with hubby Max, flirts right back and seems quite intent on some carnality with Buck in the very near future.

Which makes the waitress even scarier than the teeth on Charmaine’s boyfriend.

So we’re back to madness, confusion, and the possibility of outrageous acts at any given second. It’s good to be home again…

No comments:

Post a Comment