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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Web Therapy has no trouble getting it up

Showtime's Web Therapy, which mysteriously moved to Sundays a couple of weeks ago, ended its sophomore run last night with a delightful installment entitled "Electile Dysfunction." Robin (Julie Claire), to get even with a rude Fiona (Lisa Kudrow), released the sneakily recorded sex tapes featuring Kip (Victor Garber) and Ben (Michael McDonald). The result is that Kip is forced to drop out of the race. This is fine with Fiona, who is ready to be done with politics and her gay husband so that she can fly away with Austen (Alan Cumming). Unfortunately, there is a snag in that plan, too.

I want to say poor Fiona, as she is the protagonist of the show, and her luck seems to be bad, but I can't. Kudrow makes the character so detestable that, every time there might be an inkling of sympathy for her, it's quickly quelled. This isn't a complaint, but rather an observation about the way the lead is built. Her husband is gay. That sucks. No wonder she is uptight and repressed. But then Fiona sends her possibly dangerous stalker (David Schwimmer, Friends) after her own sister (Julia Louis-Dreyfus). Does she have zero moral compass?

Many great modern television series are built on the antihero, but almost none of those are comedies. That makes what Web Therapy is doing so original and genius. If one if watching a dark drama and the main character is a baddie, that's one thing. When one is laughing at the antics of the principal person, who then takes things way too far, it's hard to keep laughing. Somehow, this show manages to make the cruel funny, and therein lies its brilliance.

Besides all of the actors mentioned above, the cast is stuffed with familiar faces like Victor Garber, Lily Tomlin, Rashida Jones, Molly Shannon, Minnie Driver, Selma Blair, Rosie O'Donnell, Conan O'Brien (as a douche-y version of himself), and even Meryl Streep. What would attract such an elite group of performers to the small screen? When is the last time Streep guest starred in any television show, other than an award-winning miniseries (Angels in America) or a couple of quick voice cameos (The Simpsons, King of the Hill) in the '90s?

But it's not just those the audience already knows that sell the work. Web Therapy boasts a wonderful supporting cast which includes Dan Bucatinsky, Jennifer Elise Cox, and Tim Bagley. They may not may as instantly recognizable, but they're every bit as good as the more famous people, which is necessary to make the show gel together the way it does.

Season one of Web Therapy ended with Fiona being selfish (unlike the actress playing her, who allows everyone a chance to shine), giving up the chance at love with Austen to stand by Kip, hoping that would bring her status and political acumen. Is Austen's betrayal with Gina (Cox) payback? Would it have happened anyway? It's hard to say, but given the way that Fiona treats Austen, it's hard to believe their union would have been a happy one.

As much as Fiona stops in a dark place, the rest of the characters are looking pretty good. Gina has a great new job and is being pampered, Kip and Ben are happily off cavorting somewhere, and Fiona's mother, Putsy (Tomlin), has launched the competing Net Therapy, stealing Fiona's formerly loyal assistant, Jerome (Bucatinsky), away, paying him a more fair salary. So it's not a bad ending, since these are all better human beings who deserve good things more than Fiona. Let's see how Fiona can wreck their happiness next.

Web Therapy has not yet been renewed for a third season, but if there is justice for good TV, it will be. And if not, season two provides some nice closure.

If you like my reviews, please follow me on Twitter! Check out my website, JeromeWetzel.com! First posted on TheTVKing

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