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.