Tuesday, July 19, 2011

When TV Therapists Need Therapy Of Their Own...

In honor of Lisa Kudrow bringing her hit web series, Web Therapy, to Showtime starting tonight at 11pm, Made Possible by Pop Culture wanted to go back and look at some of our favorite (equally unorthodox and unconventional as Dr. Fiona Wallice, though in different ways) pop culture therapists. After all, sitting down with unique characters is its own form of sessions, and it's certainly where I would turn to try to learn things about myself and the world. But looking back now, it's probably good that everything was taken with a grain of salt when it was a fictional character because some of these pop culture docs needed just as much help than they actually dished out!

Dr. Elizabeth Goode (Alexandra Wentworth, Head Case) - This self-centered, abrasive, and melodramatic mental health "professional" really could be the training wheels version of Fiona-- you know, all of the same personality traits but without the ambition of taking her career to the next level and franchising. Dr. Goode was too focused on turning her celebrity clients' attention around on her-- and often her wedding-- to care about anything else. It's quite remarkable they kept coming back at all, but hey, I guess that goes to show you just how messed up some celebrities can be!

Dr. Jennifer Melfi (Lorraine Bracco, The Sopranos) - Though at times she seemed uncomfortable or at least a bit on-guard with her obviously connected patient, she actually did what a good doctor has sworn to do: put her personal feelings aside and worked him from a professional angle to most effectively treat him. But of course, like with anyone who goes into a relationship with a bias or already existing opinion, she was set up to learn just as much as she tried to teach.

Dr. Buddy Rydell (Jack Nicholson, Anger Management) - At times he seemed to have more than one screw looser than his patients, creating exercises that ranged from grown men sleeping in the same bed to taking a golf club to someone's windshield to singing showtunes at the top of their lungs. Unorthodox isn't a strong enough word. But there was a method to his madness, and that was to get the patient completely out of their comfort zone-- out of their own head-- so they could truly begin to adjust their behavior.

Dr. Paul Weston (Gabriel Byrne, In Treatment) - At times he was much more quiet and thoughtful than any other doctor we see on-screen. He allowed his patients to heal by telling their stories; hearing them aloud often helped them to process better. At the end of the day, though, he still had a lot to work through himself-- not only his own flaws and family issues, but also the emotional impact of adding his patients' problems onto his own already dented psyche.

Dr. Dani Santino (Callie Thorne, Necessary Roughness) - It's hard to put this woman in the therapy box just yet. Not only is she new to the game (at least to audiences), but she gets out of her office and takes her clients off of her couch and embarks upon exercises with them. She is an active participant in their recovery, and it is still too soon to tell if her extra involvement means she is taking some of the hard work off of them and therefore if the breakthroughs she guides will stick. But she is just as no-nonsense as any of them, and for that, we must applaud her.

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