I imagine that the new HBO series, "In Treatment," is likely as polarizing among critics as Hillary Clinton is among the electorate. Some will say the show, which basically moves "My Dinner with Andre" from the restaurant to the psychoanalyst's office, is nothing more than a droll soap opera dressed up as a sophisticated HBO drama. Others will claim that it is riveting in its extreme blend of complex character and uber-simple format.
I'm in the latter camp. Though I haven't been in treatment (yet), I've always been a sucker for the Freudian peephole, and I simply can't stop watching this show. The acting is uneven (how many times can Gabriel Byrne rub his forehead and sigh?), and the show must be an editor's nightmare (how many ways can you cut between two sitting people?), but somehow, against all odds, because of good acting, a winning concept, fantastic script writing and deceptively adept direction, the show actually makes for great television.
Last night, I also realized that watching it gives you the psychoanalyst's lens in seeing current events. So in viewing yesterday's "60 Minutes" profiles of the Obama and Clinton campaigns, I couldn't help but realize that to run for president, one must have serious Daddy issues.
I knew vaguely about Obama's absent Kenyan father (I've read "The Audacity of Hope," but not the apparently superior "Dreams of my Father"), but I wasn't aware of Hillary's disease to please until Katie Couric--who now competes with Anderson Cooper for my I Can't Take You Seriously Award (do pearls give you instant gravitas?)--revealed the anecdote that when child Hillary would bring home an all-A report card to her father, his dry response would be, "That school must be too easy." Father is now dead. Say no more.
Bill Clinton? Alcoholic father. George W. Bush? Still trying to please the all-star academic, sports, military and political hero who is daddy-o. I suppose if I dug deep enough, I'd find out that Abraham Lincoln's dad used to beat him with a cat o' nine tails while drinking a fifth of rye.
What would we do without distant, absent, un-pleasable fathers? I don't know. But one thing is clear: We wouldn't have any presidential candidates.
Monday, February 11, 2008
Posted by Marc Conklin at 9:00 AM