Some shows stay on the air for so long, there’s seemingly no end in sight (Grey’s Anatomy, I’m looking at you), and others, like United States of Tara, leave us far too soon. The Showtime dramedy focused on a woman with dissociative identity disorder (what you may know as multiple personality disorder) and how she and her family deal with her many alters. And after three seasons on the air, it was canceled.
Mental illness isn’t something usually depicted on television in a realistic, humanizing way, if it’s even depicted at all. But United States of Tara gave the television world a show that was all about mental illness and all about, in a way, normalizing mental illness. Tara’s a mom and a wife and a sister and a student and an occasionally working woman. She’s functioning. It just so happens that when she gets overwhelmed, she morphs into one of her alters (ranging from a male troublemaker to a wannabe Stepford Wife). To us viewers who may not have experience with dissociative identity disorder, we may be surprised each time it happens. How did this mom just turn into a crop-top-wearing teen? But to Tara’s family, it’s just a part of Tara. They’ve figured out what to do when each alter comes out, and even have individual relationships with them, going as far as to express joy when Alice, the tidy one, comes back or when T, the teenager, appears. It’s a giant lesson in acceptance and an even bigger lesson in understanding — both areas we could all use a little help in. READ FULL STORY