State of Mind

I just caught most of an episode of State of Mind, a new Lifetime series starring Lili Taylor. Since Lifetime generally blows chunks, I just thought I’d mention that this episode of this show did not suck.

It’s okay – take five to pick your jaw up off the floor.

It’s too early to say it won’t just slide off into the normal tropes and stereotypes, but for this episode at least, it appeared the writers have invested some actual analysis instead of just writing situations.

Taylor’s character, Anne Bellowes, is a marriage counselor who catches her husband having sex with another woman, but the analysis doesn’t stop there, as it does with most people on and off screen. She realizes he wouldn’t have gotten caught if he didn’t mean to; and then she realizes she’s bored to death with her husband and is only staying married because he’s a good guy. As is probably always the case, the cheating is symptomatic of the real problems that need to be addressed. The problems that can either be worked through, or make divorce a sensible choice.

Not long after she catches him, she accidentally (or with unconscious intent?) hits him with her car. There’s a scene toward the end where she goes to see him, having realized the roots of the trouble. She asks how he is, and he says that she ran him over with a car; how does she think he’s doing? Then he says he’s okay and asks her how she’s doing. She replies, “You ran me over; how do you think I’m doing? I’m okay, too.” He acts like it didn’t occur to him before that the cheating and the running over are comparable: both acts of blindsiding, both symbolic of something deeper. Neither helpful. He asks her if she was really looking forward to being married to him another fifty years, and she just says “I’m sorry.” Divorce then becomes the sensible choice.

Between Anne and a colleague who counsels children, there’s a lot of cold hard truth being delivered to people who seek counseling. I.E., you can’t adopt a traumatized ten-year-old child who’s been abused and molested and think love ‘n’ therapy are going to prevent him from getting into trouble in the next few years: they can only diminish that trouble somewhat. Serious rehabilitation will take a decade or more. I.E., what one husband calls “just being honest” is actually an attempt to drive his wife away rather than fix the problems in the marriage or dissolve the marriage himself.

Like I said, it’s too early to tell. She may yet go all Ally McBeal, or the stories may turn into trope-ish “Why nice women like mean men” or whatever. But so far, so good.


  1. scarlett says

    From the way you described it, it sounds like a movie I’d want to see. I think too often infidelity is portrayed as this huge crime rather then a symptom of greater unhappiness in a relationship.

  2. Jess says

    I agree. Infidelity seems like a huge crime when it happens to you; However, I think entertainment never looks past that knee jerk he/she hurt me reaction into the deeper symptoms. If it is examined, usually the reason he cheated is because she wasn’t giving him enough sex and the reason she cheated is because he’s too busy with work.

  3. Jennifer Kesler says

    I’d say the reasons can vary a lot more than that. A lot of times, it’s the woman who’s not getting enough sex. Or someone’s not getting enough attention… or, as in this show, someone is sensing their mate isn’t that into them, and instead of confront the problem head on, they create another drama scenario (the cheating) to let it play out.

    Very commonly, people go through their whole lives expecting a mate to give them something they’re missing, and jump from one mate to another looking for it, never realizing it’s something they can only provide for themselves.

  4. Jess says

    I’m sorry, I don’t think I was clear. I was referring that the reasons that are typically given in pop culture.

  5. scarlett says

    Well I’ve witnessed a few friends commit infidelity. In one case, the boyfriend worked FIFO so they only saw each other one week in three. I knew she was very lonely and they eventually broke up because the jobs they wanted meant they weren’t going to have the relationship they wanted.

    In another, my friend was the ‘other woman’, and some of the reasons she gave for doing it was that she wanted what she couldn’t have and that it was a huge ego boost that this guy found her so desirable that he’d jeapordise his relationship with his girlfriend to have an affair with her. Both excuses, I think, are symptomatic of a general dissatsfaction with her life and I think to say she’d just wanted to get laid was glossing over that dissaisfaction.

    The same with my friend in the FIFO relationship; O think it’s glossing over to attribute her infidelity to just wanting to get laid. I think the media often treats infidelity like that, just a case of not enough sex when there’s usually greater issues at play. I’d love to see more movies and TV shows look at the deeper issues behind infidelity rather then the titilation of cheating and the whole ‘she/he hurt me’ angle.


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