Wednesday, October 27, 2010

In Treatment: Jesse

Week 1: Sunil - Frances - Jesse - Adele
Week 2: Sunil - Frances - Jesse/Adele
Week 3: Sunil - Frances - Jesse - Adele

Week 4: Sunil - Frances - Jesse - Adele
Week 5: Sunil - Frances - Jesse - Adele

Jesse is one troubled kid. He's cutting school, hanging out at a bar (at 16, no less), sleeping around, selling his Adderall, staying out all night, cursing at his shrink, and being generally difficult. And Jesse's adopted-- he gets to mid-session before he plays a voicemail for Paul: his birth mother has contacted him and wants to speak.

Jesse and Paul relate more like angry-father to angry-son than like therapist to patient. Paul orders Jesse to stop attending to his iPhone. Put it away. Give it to me. Don't make me tell you again. Don't talk to me like that. Paul knows every parental cliche and Jesse reacts in kind, mostly with obscenities, sarcasm, and wise cracks. Paul even corrects Jesse when he mispronounces "Merriam" and he gives Jesse a mini-lecture on the history of the Merriam Webster Dictionary. This is therapy? The session builds tension-- you think the two of them might fight, and then suddenly the tension breaks and Jesse becomes submissive, or cooperative, or has a moment of genuine reflection. I'm sorry, he says, after Paul scolds him--- out of sync with all the rest of the f* bombs that keep exploding.

Before each episode, there is are snippets from past seasons to help the viewer remember what happened last year. We see Paul sparring with his own therapist, Gina, and he yells at her that he can't keep seeing her to get the mothering he'd never gotten.

So is therapy a fill-in for parenting?