Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Lust and Logorrhea on the HBO Couch

A new series, "In Treatment," is trying to do for psychotherapy what "The Sopranos" did for organized crime. But from the evidence thus far, Dr. Melfi and her star patient can rest easy. Talk alone, without Bada Bing pole dancers and bloody on-camera murders, won't cut it.

In our time, HBO has provided a sociological index of upper middle-class anxieties and guilty pleasures from "Sex and the City" to "Six Feet Under."

Now comes "In Treatment," half-hour sessions confined to consulting rooms and self-absorbed talk-talk-talk.

In one story line, the therapist has to fend off the sexual advances of a gorgeous patient and, while trying to help a hostile couple decide about aborting a pregnancy, has his couch stained by a miscarriage, which leads to his wife's cleaning up the mess and, in passing, unloading her rage about his indifference and taunting him with news of her affair with a divorced business type. This sends the therapist to his therapist who recommends unloading the gorgeous sexual predator and is rewarded by accusations about her mishandling of an ancient case of counter-transference.

Holy Freud! In an interview this week, George W. Bush dismissed a question about his relationship with his father as "shallow psychobabble." If the President has a taste for deep psychobabble, HBO has just the thing for him.

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