Based on an Israeli drama, this HBO show thwarts There Are No Therapists and Hollywood Psych (as best it can in a 30 minute time limit per episode, anyway) by showing 4 sessions a week of Paul Weston, therapist, and his clients. Some of Paul's own personal issues come out during the sessions, as well as seeing Paul's family. On the fifth day, Paul sees his own therapist/ex-mentor Gina.Note: even though you may want to skip watching certain patients every week, you really can't skip any of them in order to make sense of some other episodes (especially the Gina ones).The show has a bit of Epiphany Therapy to it, given the short timelines, but otherwise seems to try to be as realistic as it can about the therapeutic process. The credits also show they have a professional therapist consultant.It hasn't been a big moneymaker for HBO (perhaps owing to its slow-pacing/reliance on dialogue) but a third season started in 2010. It cuts things down to three sessions a week and after Paul's confrontation with Gina at the end of season 2, he's seeing a new therapist, Adele.Season 1 clients:
Batman Gambit: Sunil: Triple played on Paul, his son Arun, and his daughter in-law Julia. By claiming to have vague dreams and fantasies about hurting Julia, he convinced Paul to do his duty as a therapist and call Julia to warn her...exactly as Sunil wanted. Then Julia reacted as Sunil predicted by calling the police. The police then asked to see his immigration papers, Sunil refused, and he was set to be deported, the entire situation finally convincing Arun to break the promise he made to his mother and let his father return home to Calcutta...which is all that Sunil wanted since his introduction.
Book Dumb: Jake denies being an intellectual and says he hates to read and flunked out of school. However, he grew up with intellectual parents, knows more than he admits to, and is good at crossword puzzles.
Played straight in Season 1 when Paul reciprocates Laura's feelings of romantic love, which technically are a form of transference and hence part of what she needs treatment for. Subverted in the Season Finale when it's revealed that Paul's treatment of Laura was a success despite his unprofessional behaviour.
Played with in Season 2 when it's Paul's issues with his own family that subvert his treatment of April, and maybe also of Oliver.
Played with differently in Season 3 when Sunil successfully involves Paul in his own Batman gambit to get deported by pretending to be more troubled than he actually is.
Hypocritical Humor: Gina's book paints Paul's Expy as childish and unprofessional in the way he lets his patients supersede his family. But such a portrayal of a real person is a rather immature thing for a writer to do, and being a mentor and friend to Paul for such a long time, she should know being his therapist is rather unprofessional itself...
Real Time: The sessions themselves are often this. One episode even ends early when the patient storms off. Of course, dialogue implies that the sessions are 50 minutes long, so there may some time compression going on.
Justified in that it is mentioned that Paul grew up there and moved to the states sometime in his teens.
Embeth Davidtz in the first series.
Will They or Won't They?: Paul and Laura, a rare example of this where you root for "won't." Mia gives this a pretty good shot as well, though Paul is less responsive. A case could be made of Adele too.