Last year I wrote about the HBO show “In Treatment”, featuring fictional therapist Dr. Paul Weston, his sessions with patients, his private life, and the hours he spends talking to a supervisor/therapist of his own.
It’s not for everyone, that’s for sure. But I’m fascinated by it. I even ordered a two-month HBO subscription this year solely in order to tape and watch the show.
It’s overly dramatic, of course. And every now and then I find myself yelling at my TV set, shouting to Paul “No, don’t do that!” or “That’s unethical: WRONG!”
But despite its many flaws, the program is the most consistently true-to-life portrayal of therapeutic sessions and their complexities that I’ve yet seen in TV or film. It has the added attraction of an “Upstairs Downstairs” quality—first you see Paul as the often (although certainly not always) patient and neutral therapist, and then you go behind the scenes and see the shambles of his private life and the rage he expresses in his sessions with his own therapist/supervisor.
No, not all (or even most) therapists have lives that are that messy. But some do. This is, of course, a work of fiction and drama, and as such it delivers the goods—that is, if your idea of drama leans towards the cerebral, emotional, and internal.
The series would be nothing much, however, without the super-fine acting of its principals. Gabriel Byrne (aka Gabriel Séamas Ó Broin), who play Paul, is an extraordinary actor who makes the character completely believable in all his guises and emotional swings. And it doesn’t hurt that Byrne has a hauntingly brooding (although Wiki says he hates having that word applied to him) face.
Here’s Byrne in full brood: