I am officially declaring myself a television jinx. The moment I like a show, it seems to be immediately cancelled. My friends had been telling me to watch The United States of Tara since the first season. When I did finally give in this year and watched the back episodes, so that I could catch up and discovered I loved it, I should have realized right then and there, that this was the death knell for the show.
Last night the series finale aired and though they didn’t plan for it to be the end of the show, because the writers of show have a tendency to wrap up loose ends at the end of each season it actually wrapped up the show fairly well. Marshall forgave his mother, Charmain and Neal agreed to move to Houston, Kate decided to stay home to be with Marshall, Tara left for treatment in Boston and Max beat the hell out of a turducken and then, most unsatisfactorily it was over.
As I have said before, being neurologically typical and no real awareness of whether or not Tara’s condition was accurately portrayed, means that whatever flaws there were in the series in terms of disability, I was not aware of them. I will however state once again that have a disabled character on prime time is meaningful, when we consider how often we are erased from the mainstream.
The problem with this ending is that though it showed that her DID had an effect on her family, the fact that she didn’t end up alone felt very much to me like they were sugar coating the pain for the purposes of a happy ending. When I thought about the end of this show, I always pictured Tara along looking into a mirror with the various faces of her different personalities looking back. You see, even though Tara’s family loves her, the fact that they simply didn’t burn out is because this was a television show, rather than real life. Marshall actually got to the point where he was in physical altercation with his mother and yet he was so ready to forgive her for all the pain that she caused.
To be clear, I understand that it wasn’t his mother Tara that was hurting him, but her alters. I just wonder how it is that you separate the two in your mind? Throughout the show, I knew that placed in the same situation as Tara’s family, love or not, I could not handle it. I don’t think saying that makes me a bad person either. I also was extremely upset that it was not until the very last episode of the series that Max finally lost his temper. Throughout the show he was loving, supportive and forgiving, but his needs, his anger were pushed to the side. There has to be room in a series like this to really show all of the hurt and the pain, to show that sometimes love just isn’t enough. It is a harsh reality, but it often is a reality in cases like this.
I am going to miss Tara and all of her personalities. I am going to miss the brilliant writing and the comedy in the worst of circumstance, but I am truly saddened that it ended on a sugar coated note when it seemed so determined to note that mental illness is not something that should be taken lightly and that it has a real effect on families. Sometimes the happy ending just does not make sense. At the very least they could have ended the show like the Sopranos.
What did you think of the series finale and what other show were you sad to see cancelled this year?