Friday, July 6, 2012

Web Therapy on Showtime

I love "Web Therapy." If you haven't seen it yet, go to Showtime right now, find this show, and watch it. This is the second season, so next, find the first season's shows and have a marathon viewing. (Sometimes I record shows I like so I can view them as a marathon--watch several episodes in succession on a rainy Saturday afternoon, for instance. not this one, though. I have to watch this one as soon as it airs.)

Lisa Kudrow is a genius. The fact that this show is not scripted, but instead is improvised, makes it all the more remarkable. The show is smart and funny--not rofl funny, but a brilliantly, satirically, wittily funny. (rolf = rolling on the floor laughing.)

Lisa Kudrow portrays Fiona Wallice, a therapist with an innovative "therapeutic modality". She does three-minute therapy sessions with her clients via video cam instead of the standard 50-minute in-person sessions. She claims the shorter sessions force both therapist and client to get to the "nitty-gritty" faster.

Most of the action on the show takes place as video-sessions between Fiona, her patients, and the various people in her life (her husband, her mother, her staff, her lovers and would be lovers, etc.) Kudrow is in virtually every scene, and this reinforces the essential aspect of her character-- she is a narcissist.

I suspect that the real reasons for the three-minute sessions is Fiona's narcissistic personality. No one can hold her interest for more that three minutes. Additionally, she doesn't have time to do actual therapy--she spends a lot of time trying to get investors for her "therapeutic modality." She is also very busy manipulating (or trying to manipulate) everyone in her life. 

She is a devastating diva who is largely successful in manipulating her hapless victims. She fails only with her mother. She has met her match with her mother, and the interactions she has with her mother show us the origins of her pathology.

The caliber of guest stars testify to the fact that this is a first-rate show.  (Big-name stars are not going to appear in drek.)  Last season we had Lily Tomlin playing Fiona's mother; this season, we have Meryl Streep who spars with Fiona while hiding behind a mask of sweetness and innocence.  I think Fiona is about to be bested again.

Lisa Kudrow plays this character to perfection.  She is always impeccably groomed and beautifully dressed.  Her speech is very well-modulated and clearly enunciated.  She speaks slowly and deliberately so as to hold the attention of everyone around her that much longer. Or perhaps her speech reflects her desire for control, self control as well as control over others--she never has a spontaneous moment.

Back in 2005, Lisa Kudrow played a another finely-honed character on a great show airing on HBO, a mockumentary called "The Comeback."  Kudrow played a fragile actress filming a reality show as she tried to make a comeback.  Again Ms. Kudrow was pitch-perfect.  Her character was always in so much pain that it sometimes hurt to watch her.

Lisa Kudrow has come a long way from her wacky characters on "Friends". (Characters, plural; she played a minor character as well as one of the six leads.)

Did I mention that I love this show?