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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Web Therapy is "Getting It Straight"

I admit it. I wasn't a big fan of the first season of Showtime's Web Therapy. Perhaps that is because those early episodes were just shorter webisodes edited together, and didn't have as cohesive a story for each half hour. As season two begins last night, though, with "Getting It Straight," all that changes. Though the episodes are still based on web clips, a number of new characters are introduced, and the story immediately seems more comprehensive.

Season two of Web Therapy is exactly what it should have been from the beginning, and sort of was, but really hadn't come fully together yet. It's about a self-obsessed online "therapist" named Fiona (Lisa Kudrow), who alienates everyone around her, but insists on being a contributing member of society anyway, in that she wants society to revolve around her. Things usually don't go her way, of course, but through manipulation and denial, Fiona chugs along, somehow getting by at the end of the day.

Kudrow is fantastic as Fiona. She makes Fiona so easy to hate, which I imagine is hard to do, considering that Kudrow is the brains behind the show. Who would intentionally make themselves come across as a terrible person? Kudrow does it so believably, and in a very funny way. She surrounds herself with talent, and really, plays as a springing board to make others look good. The actress must be the opposite of her character.

In "Getting It Straight," Austen Clarke (Alan Cumming, The Good Wife) sends Fiona's husband, Kip (Victor Garber), to an anti-gay camp in order to "fix" him, as he is campaigning for national office. Clarke was introduced as a love interest for Fiona, and seems intent to get Kip elected so that Fiona can leave her hubby for him. His motivations may be selfish, but he sure is working earnestly to help Kip!

Of course, in 2012, most people realize that gay cannot be "cured," nor should it be. But then again, the characters appear to know this, too. Actually beginning to talk about Kip's homosexuality is nice, instead of continuing to dance around it, as it reveals that Fiona isn't completely oblivious to others, and helps explain the state of her marriage, as well as, perhaps, some of personal issues. The straight camp seems to be more for image, much like Kip's play of making up a pet named Scruffy, rather than to change his personality. Which is a very tongue in cheek and smart approach to the subject.

At the camp, Kip is treated by Camilla Bowner (Meryl Streep, The Devil Wears Prada, Doubt), NOT pronounced boner, who is sincere about helping Kip recover. Interestingly, this center does not have a specific religious affiliation, thus avoiding alienating certain viewers. However, Streep brings to life a very specific character who not only wants to help Kip, but can also see how toxic Fiona is, and would like to remove her from Kip's life. It's a sincere attitude, and one that Fiona takes umbridge to. A battle of wills has been set up, and who will win?

It's such a rare treat to Streep on television, let alone in a recurring role! Not to mention, she is talking about boners, and in an outtake, her bra comes undone. For a legendary actress such as her to commit to a sitcom in a role like this is a testament to how good Web Therapy has become. This is a serious A-list get! And Kudrow holds her own against Streep! What a fantastic set up of an antagonist!

Also rubbing Fiona the wrong way in "Getting It Straight" is Austen's right hand woman, Maxine DeMaine (Rosie O'Donnell, Drop Dead Diva, The Flintstones). Austen promises to publish Fiona's book, which she makes Jerome (Dan Bucatinsky) write for her, but Maxine is the strong arm who will have none of it. That is, until she learns about Kip's campaign, and then she agrees to fix the book and put it out. This is a delightfully awkward situation, with Maxine walking the fine line between business woman and bitch. Another fine performance to help enrich the tapestry of Web Therapy.

All of these great actors, new additions and established leads from season one, coming together in such unexpected and humorous ways really give new life to Web Therapy. It's definitely a show that should begin to garner more attention and accolades, having found its stride.

Watch Web Therapy Mondays at 11 p.m. ET on Showtime.

Check out my new website, JeromeWetzel.com  If you like my reviews, please follow me on Twitter! Article first published as Web Therapy is "Getting It Straight" on TheTVKing.com

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