‘In Treatment’: The Vulture Therapy Session

Photo: Courtesy of HBO

Dan: *weeping*
Dan: *weeping*
Dan: *weeping*
Dan: *snot-filled weeping*
Dr. Lane: *pushes box of tissues toward Dan*
Dr. Lane: What seems to be the problem?
Dan: I've been waiting four hours for you to open up your office.
Dan: I almost froze to death out there.
Dr. Lane: Sorry, I was watching this new therapy show on HBO and fell asleep.
Dan: I did a terrible thing last night, and it was with In Treatment.
Dr. Lane: Oh?
Dan: I've had some good times with my boyfriend, HBO, over the last few years.
Dan: The Wire, The Sopranos, they've all been great.
Dan: But last night, out of fucking nowhere, HBO just starts crying and is like, "Dan, I need you to make a commitment."
Dan: "Either you watch In Treatment five nights a week, or it's over between us."

Dan: I was so angry! I was like, "I'm working double shifts on Vulture, I don't need this kind of ultimatum."
Dr. Lane: Where did this ultimatum come from? You've always been faithfully committed to HBO. You even gave John From Cincinnati a fair shake when most reasonable people gave up seconds into the pilot.
Dan: That was a dark time, yes.
Dr. Lane: And In Treatment sounds like serious commitment. It's on for a half-hour a night, five nights a week. That's 150 minutes a week you could be spending on more important things, like editing Vulture or raising children. And on Friday nights, after five days of editing a culture blog, I like to forget about culture altogether. Which I accomplish by watching NBC's prime-time lineup. Anyways, it's a real commitment.
Dan: You're telling me! Plus it's about psychotherapy, which I tend to find boring on TV.
Dr. Lane: I certainly won't be watching. I already don't have enough time for Guitar Hero 3 as it is.
Dan: But then the reviews were so positive … and it stars a bunch of really good actors … and HBO has been advertising all over our blog … and I just felt a lot of pressure.
Dan: So I watched the first episode tonight.
Dr. Lane: And what happened?
Dan: I … I think that I'm actually in love with it.
Dan: Are you disgusted by me?
Dr. Lane: Completely! I fell asleep after the first ten minutes.
Dan: God, this wasn't the response I was expecting from you.
Dan: In my mind, I had two scenarios:
Dan: In the first, you agreed with me that In Treatment was awesome, and then we ate doughnuts.
Dan: The second was the same, but without the doughnuts.
Dr. Lane: As much as I love doughnuts, I thought this first episode was kind of a snooze.
Dr. Lane: What, specifically, do you find so appealing about it?
Dr. Lane: The acting? The writing?
Dr. Lane: Gabriel Byrne? Even after all these years, I still can't decide if he's a poor man's Al Pacino or a financially comfortable man's Willem Dafoe.
Dan: I found it totally fascinating and dramatic. (God, I'm so disgusting.)
Dan: I think that the intense focus on one conversation made it like a really well-acted one-act play.
Dan: Short and lively, with people saying things they'd never say in everyday conversation.
Dan: It helps that the producers really stacked the deck in this first episode:
Dan: Tears, bathroom hand jobs, and a shocking declaration of love for one's own therapist.
Dr. Lane: Yes, but where do you go from bathroom hand jobs? I was already a little bored (just a hand job?), and I can't really see this show becoming more interesting.
Dan: Well, that's why despite everything, I'm still angry.
Dr. Lane: Angry at whom?
Dan: At HBO.
Dan: This is exactly the kind of show I will get addicted to. I'm a sucker for a gimmicky dramatic construct, and In Treatment has one worthy of Alan Ayckbourn.
Dan: Each night's episode is Gabriel Byrne's therapist with a different patient, and on Friday, Byrne goes to see his own.
Dan: And the cycle repeats each week.
Dan: It's a dramatic marathon of sorts, and I know I will get completely wrapped up in it — and then HBO will disappoint me.
Dan: Because you're right, surely the episodes can't keep the emotional intensity at this sort of fever pitch.
Dr. Lane: Will the same patients be on every week? Like, will Laura be back next Monday?
Dan: Yes, Monday is Laura night.
Dan: Tuesday is a different patient, played by Blair Underwood, who I am pretty convinced will not do as good a job as Melissa George, an actress I previously best knew for her roles in such masterpieces as 30 Days of Night, Turistas, and The Amityville Horror.
Dan: Boy, was she impressive in this, though — navigating her way through basically a half-hour knotty monologue that went from the sadness to anger to lust to … um … nausea.
Dr. Lane: But Dan, again, we're talking about a five-night commitment. As good as Melissa George was, what are the odds that any of the other three patients will be as good? It's not as though you'll be able to just watch Monday's episodes to get the show's full effect — story lines will bleed into all the other story lines. Blair Underwood and Josh Charles will probably have boring mommy issues that you'll have to slog through just to get to more public-restroom hand jobs.
Dan: I know, I know. I know that you're right. But I can't change the way I feel!
Dan: There are so few shows out there anymore … and I'm so lonely at night … I just wish In Treatment could … just hold me.
Dan: Excuse me ...
Dan: *sound of vomiting*
Dan: God, this is embarrassing.
Dr. Lane: No, no … It's okay. I've been Netflixing old episodes of The O.C. out of sheer boredom. This writers' strike blows.
Dan: I know that this is ridiculous, and Gabriel Byrne barely has to act, and he's going to get nominated for a Golden Globe next year even though he only talks one out of every five episodes.
Dan: By then I'll be mortified.
Dr. Lane: Do you really think you'll be able to care about these people's problems five nights a week? I'm pretty sure I won't.
Dr. Lane: Then again, people bore me. In fact, I'm drinking vodka straight from the bottle and hitting Paul Dano with a bowling pin right now.
Dan: I wish it were that easy for me to be happy, Lane.
Dan: What should I do?
Dr. Lane: I'd say TiVo it for the rest of this week, and if it doesn't get any better, you should probably find a more sympathetic co-editor.
Dan: Good-bye, Lane. No need to call me a cab.
Dr. Lane: Zzzzzzzzzz.
Dan: *weeping*
Dan: *weeping*
Dan: *weeping*