Thursday, August 2, 2012

TV Review - Web Therapy: Season 2

One of my favorite TV series of the past few years was HBO's In Treatment, which was about a psychiatrist in New York and his patients. It was a great dramatic show that was also an interesting commentary on therapy. I always wondered what a comedic version of this idea would look like. This summer we got two choices. The first choice was Charlie Sheen returning to television with FX's Anger Management where Sheen plays a philanderer and former baseball player who becomes a group therapist and each session is almost an argument over whether or not he should be a therapist and if therapy even works. The second choice is Lisa Kudrow's return for the second season of Web Therapy.

The first season of Web Therapy had each episode be an argument over whether or not her character, Fiona Wallice, should be a therapist and if her modality of therapy even works. The second season is less about therapy. The initial three episodes focus more on a storyline that began in the first season. Instead of being just isolated sessions where Fiona counsels some random person, the creators and producers of the show have developed this compelling narrative.

Here is the plot of that narrative, which started in the first season. Fiona leaves the investment firm Lachman Brothers. The reasons for her departure are unclear because she tells her lawyer husband of 17 years, Kip Wallice, that she wants money from Lachman and she's willing to blackmail the firm with a sexual harassment lawsuit. Because Fiona has knowledge of some of Lachman's shady dealings, the firm sends an analyst to evaluate her business of three-minute, online therapy.

Due to the analyst's mental breakdown, Fiona gets his patients, which boosts her profile. Through manipulation and sabotage, Fiona is also able to get financing but not enough to satisfy or sustain her. Things turn when her benefactor and former boss, Robert Lachman, is investigated by the Securities Exchange Commission that then asks her to be a whistle-blower in its case against Lachman. Fiona is inspired to write a book about it and smoozes the analyst's most powerful patient, a media and real estate mogul named Austen Clarke to be her publisher. She smoozes a bit too much and Austen wants to be in a relationship with her, which Fiona might want too after she suspects her husband of having an affair, but she decides to stay with Kip when he announces that he's running for Congress.

Season 2 focuses on Kip's campaign with Fiona doing what she can to help but often that means making things worse. The season kicks off with Rosie O'Donnell and Meryl Streep both playing amazingly hilarious characters. O'Donnell storms onto the scene as Maxine, the president of Austen's publishing company whose affable hostility will separate them. Streep slithers in as Camilla, a sexy, southern Belle with deadly passive aggressive tendencies. Michael Macdonald appears as Ben, Kip's campaign manager, desperately trying to avoid controversy. If any of these people don't get Emmy nominations next year, it would be a crime.

With David Schwimmer this season and Courteney Cox guest starring last season, as well as Matt LeBlanc starring in the series Episodes, it's no question where the cast of Friends went. It's Showtime.

Five Stars out of Five.
Rated TV-14.
Running Time: 30 mins.
Mondays at 11PM on Showtime.

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