The many faces of Toni Collette

Late last year, Showtime finally released one of its new hit shows’ first season, “United States of Tara,” on DVD. Fans re-lived meeting Tara’s personalities, or alters, in the first episodes and were reminded of all the reasons why they were so impatiently waiting for Season 2. On March 22, “United States of Tara” finally returned for its second season on Showtime.

USoT revolves around Tara, a mother, artist and housewife who suffers from dissociative identity disorder, which is the official term for split personality. Her husband Max, two children Marshall and Kate and sister Charmaine have learned to live with the various versions of Tara. One would think the drama created by this disorder is enough to make for an interesting show, but that is not all “United States of Tara” has to offer. Each character, along with having to live with Tara and her alters, also has their own storylines. These stories are what makes USoT so great to watch – there is not one second of time wasted.

Tara’s alters get revealed early on, and a short overview shows that they are as diverse as they come. Alice is a housewife stuck in the 50s who loves to cook, bake and clean for her “picture-perfect” family. “T” is a rebellious teenager with the advantage of having a credit card and a driver’s license, but the downside of unfortunately being stuck in an ‘old’ body. A personal favorite is Buck, the male – yes, male! – alter who lost his imaginary balls when he went to Vietnam – or so he thinks.

The show thrives from Colette’s immense talent, which won her an Emmy and a Golden Globe for her portrayal of Tara. She can go from being Tara to one of her alters within a matter of seconds, and her whole demeanor, especially her mannerisms, change. In Season 2, these transformations become even more central to the show and really give Collette an opportunity to show her skills. But while Collette shows the widest range due to her character’s disorder, the other actors do not disappoint at all. Rosemarie DeWitt is brilliant as Tara’s sometimes jealous/attention-seeking, yet caring sister.

Brie Larson as Kate only seems like the typical teenage girl at first. She soon reveals a depth that stems from her family’s situation.

Leading man John Corbett portrays Tara’s likeable and understanding husband, and Keir Gilchrist plays the non-stereotypical, possibly-gay son Marshall.

Part of the success of “United States of Tara” can be attributed to the witty, yet often deep dialogue written by Oscar winner Diablo Cody. Pop-culture reverences that make viewers laugh are as common as wise words that will make you ponder the deeper meaning of life. This show certainly proves that hit movie “Juno” was not a one-hit-wonder.

If you saw Season 1 and liked it, Season 2 will definitely not disappoint. In the first episode, Tara is alter-free but drug-filled and life is perfect. However, perfect life rarely makes for good TV, so this perfect life has an expiration date and it is approaching fast.

Season 1 is on sale everywhere. Catch new episodes of Season 2 Mondays, 10:30 p.m. ET/PT.

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The many faces of Toni Collette