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Series / In Treatment

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Dr. Paul Weston
Dr. Brooke Taylor
Based on the Israeli drama BeTipul, this HBO show thwarts There Are No Therapists and Hollywood Psych (as best it can in a 30 minute time limit per episode, anyway). Set in Baltimore and later Brooklyn, it shows four sessions a week of Paul Weston (Gabriel Byrne), 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.

The series started in 2008. It was not 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. The series unofficially ended in December 2010, when HBO did not renew it, but did not officially cancel it. There were rumors about it returning for years, until July 2020, when HBO officially announced Season 4, a Retool, which will be set in Los Angeles, have an entirely new cast, with Uzo Aduba as Dr. Brooke Taylor, replacing Gabriel Byrne. It premiered on May 23, 2021 and was cancelled in 2022.

This American Foreign Remake of an Israeli series got a Foreign Remake itself when a Dutch version was made, named In Therapie and running for 2 seasons in 2010-2011, starring Jacob Derwig and Kim Van Kooten.

Season 1 clients:

Season 2 clients:

  • Mia (Hope Davis), a once and former patient of Paul's who is bitter about being single and childless.
  • April (Alison Pill), a college student with cancer who's not getting treated for it.
  • Oliver (Aaron Grady Shaw), a kid caught in a nasty fight between his parents
  • Walter (John Mahoney), a businessman who can't sleep, but has a lot more problems than just that.

Season 3 clients:

  • Sunil (Irrfan Khan), an Indian math teacher who is having trouble adjusting to living with his son and his family after his wife's death.
  • Frances (Debra Winger), an aging actress with memory problems, a sister with breast cancer, and a strained relationship with her daughter.
  • Jesse (Dane DeHaan), a gay teenager who can't connect with his adoptive parents or boyfriends and has trouble opening up.

Season 4 clients:

  • Eladio (Anthony Ramos), a patient who works as a home health aide for a wealthy family.
  • Colin (John Benjamin Hickey), a millionaire white collar criminal who has recently been released from prison.
  • Laila (Quintessa Swindell), Brooke's rebellious teenage patient whose grandmother is forcing her to attend therapy.

This work contains examples of:

    open/close all folders 
    Tropes present in Seasons 1- 3 
  • Aborted Arc: After Paul learns from Sophie that she slept with her married adult coach, nothing further happens with this, despite most of the American audience reasonably expecting that he will have to let the authorities know about this due to mandatory-reporting laws.
  • A-Cup Angst: After Sophie (rather inappropriately) lifts her top to show Paul her rash and then taunts him for being scared of her "titties", she disparages them as underdeveloped due to her years of gymnastics training.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The original Israeli series ran for two seasons, so the third season was written from scratch.
  • 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. At one point he corrects Paul on when the latter misquotes Roland Barthes.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Sophie, especially to Olivia, although she improves later in the season after she begins to realize that her parents' divorce was not her fault.
  • Bungled Suicide: Paul unwittingly leaves a bottle of sleeping pills in his bathroom (he's been sleeping in his treatment room and poorly), and Sophie takes a handful upon discovering them after a particularly distressing night and therapy session. Luckily she collapses before being able to leave and Paul calls an ambulance, allowing her to survive. Walter later tries something similar (this time in his own home), but also fails.
    • The accident that prompted Sophie's therapy is also revealed to have been this.
  • But I Can't Be Pregnant! and Convenient Miscarriage: And HOW for Amy, who wanted an abortion and her husband didn't want her to get one.
  • Broken Ace: Three prominent examples:
    • Alex, who talks about being "the best" in anything he puts his mind and body to, and yet is unable to make decisions by himself.
    • Walter, who prides himself on being a self-made man who can work harder and on less sleep than his colleagues, and is a very successful businessman. However, deep down he is a mess of neurosis.
    • Paul himself is apparently quite respected in his field, but his personal life is constantly in a state of falling apart, and he has no idea how to connect with his family.
  • Broken Bird: Sophie, a teenager with suicidal tendencies and an abusive relationship with her coach.
  • Broken Pedestal: Gina to Paul, who's still holding a grudge against her for getting emotionally involved with a patient.
  • The Cobbler's Children Have No Shoes: Paul is a fairly neglectful parent to his own kids. One of the season three episodes goes into this.
  • The Comically Serious: Amy's matter-of-fact descriptions of her sexual encounters with Jake and her boss fall under this trope.
  • Critical Psychoanalysis Failure: Several
    • 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.
  • The Couch: No not that couch!
  • Daddy's Girl: Sophie sees herself as this until Paul helps her realize just how cruelly her father has treated her and that she does not need to blame herself for her parents' divorce.
  • Death Seeker: Sophie, via various car accidents. Alex too via his plane, perhaps. April passively choosing not to get treated for cancer might count as another version of this.
  • Doesn't Know Their Own Child: One of Sunil's problems is that he barely knows his son Arun, who renamed himself Aaron, anymore. Arun acclimated to America easily and barely cares about their culture, which frustrates Sunil as he's very proud of his Indian heritage and values which he always tells Paul in his sessions. He believes that his marriage to Julia, who is an American, is the reason why he strayed away from his Indian heritage.
  • Domestic Abuse: Amy actually slaps and kicks Jake during a session. He's completely unfazed by it, so it probably wasn't the first time she did something like that, either.
  • Expy: According to Paul, Gina's book has one of him.
  • Femme Fatale: Laura tries very hard to be one as a way to cope with her insecurities and trauma.
  • Fictional Document: The book Gina writes in Season 3.
  • Florence Nightingale Effect: The mental health variety. Transference and counter-transference is one of the main subjects.
  • Foreign Remake: Transatlantic Equivalent with the Israeli version.
  • Foreshadowing: In the first Gina episode in Season 1 she is joking with Paul and asks if he's afraid she'll write about him in his book. Guess what happens in Season 3.
  • Formerly Fat: Amy, an issue that comes into play in the differences between her and her estranged husband over parenting their son, since she fears the same thing happening to him.
  • Freudian Couch: Notwithstanding The Couch, above, Sophie sometimes prefers to lie down on Paul's couch during her sessions.
  • Genre Savvy: Frances, who spends a lot of her first session commenting on tropes. The problem is that a lot of them don't apply to her, making her closer to Wrong Genre Savvy.
  • The Ghost: Many, given the setting
    • In Season 1, Laura's father and her fiancé Andrew, Sophie's father (until the last session) and her coach Cy, Jake and Amy's son Lenny, and Alex's father and family (until after the funeral).
    • The trope is also deconstructed at season's end when Paul and Gina talk about how many people they get to know from their conversations with patients but usually never meet.
  • Good Is Not Soft: Paul often tries to be understanding and calm with his patients, and for the most part is. However, he will snap at them and put his foot down if push comes to shove. He makes it crystal clear when they are threading on thin ice and that he will only tolerate their behavior so far.
  • Honor Before Reason: Arguably, April's logic for why she won't tell her parents she has cancer. They already have one ill child, they can't deal with two.
  • Hospital Hottie: Laura, although the show's format means we never see her at work.note 
  • 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...
  • I Am Not My Father: Comes into play as Paul tries to deal with his reciprocal feelings for Laura, mindful that his father had left his mother for a patient.
  • Interrupted Suicide: Sophie tries to commit suicide in Paul's office and is rescued by him.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Two main examples:
    • In Series One, Sophie's mother seems like a hysterical helicopter parent, and Sophie treats her with disdain because of it. However, when we meet her, her daughter has twice attempted suicide, been in a sexually abusive relationship, and surrounds herself with friends who encourage her to develop an eating disorder. Her desperation to protect her daughter suddenly becomes completely justified.
    • In Series Two, Paul finally snaps at when April continually refuses to go for Chemotherapy, despite her worsening conditioning. At his wits end, Paul finally agrees to take her so that she will actually get help. His method of doing this is to cruelly browbeat her into going, and while it is a huge breach of doctor/patient boundaries, it does save her life.
  • Kick the Dog: Sophie recounts how a boy she had sex with shortly before her accident told her she had sex like someone who'd been sexually abused, leading Paul to exclaim "Prick!"
  • Little Miss Snarker: Although Sophie is a teenager, she retains some elements of this.
  • Lousy Lovers Are Losers: When Laura has an affair with Alex, she describes him as an inattentive and stale lover who treated her like an "assignment" or a "mission" to complete, and tried to touch her as little as possible. And then he ended up climaxing in under two minutes then simply left to clean up, leaving her high and dry. She assumes part of it is due to psychological issues since he hasn't had sex with anyone save for his wife in years.
  • Married to the Job: One of the reasons why Paul goes to Gina for help. His personal life is a wreck because he cares more about his patients than his children and wife. In season 2 his wife asks for the divorce, and in season 3 his children prefer to live with Kate's fiancée than deal with Paul and his patients.
  • The Masochism Tango: Jake and Amy's relationship, plus Opposites Attract.
  • Minimalist Cast: Subverted. The show leads you to think that the patients and Paul are the only characters, but several of the ghosts show up later.
  • My Greatest Failure / My Greatest Second Chance Paul and his not knowing Alex was secretly suicidal. Next year he gets to deal with two suicidal patients.
  • Never Suicide: Alex's death in a fighter jet exercise is ruled an accident by the Navy, but both his father and Paul come to believe that he killed himself. Specifically because he didn't use the ejection seat, despite having previously been established as a near record-breaking escapist from failing planes. It's left ambiguous what actually happened.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Embeth Davidtz' accent in the first season bizarrely only fluctuates in one episode, between her natural South African and American. Afterwards she sticks to her natural accent, but the effect is quite jarring.
  • Parental Abandonment: Pretty much every character in one way or another seems to have this.
  • Parents as People: One of the hardest issues Oliver has to face in his sessions with Paul, as he witnesses his parents' marriage falling apart.
  • Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure: In one session, Sophie reads her diary to Paul. She tells him she wrote the diary to Hermione Granger, and can't believe it when Paul doesn't know who that is.
  • Promotion to Parent: April is so afraid of this happening to her that she'd rather die. It is a somewhat legitimate fear as her brother is autistic to the point of being completely incapable of taking care of himself without her.
  • Properly Paranoid: Jake's Establishing Character Moment sees him freaking out about Amy being late to the session, and becomes accusatory when questioning her at length when she arrives. This makes him seem like a controlling and abusing husband, but then subverted when it turns out she WAS doing exactly what he suspected: meeting with her OBGYN to discuss an abortion, despite having promised Jake she would not without him.
  • Rage Against the Mentor: Paul to Gina in season 3, after he finds out she wrote a book about him.
  • Real Time: The sessions themselves are often this. One episode even ends early when the patient storms off. Of course, dialogue implies that
  • The Reason You Suck Letter: Paul thinks that a review Gina gave him during his school days is this when it is really only a professional evaluation. She gives him a real one in the same episode. Then again in the second season.
  • Speech-Centric Work: Just sessions between Paul and his patients.
  • Straight Gay: Alex, maybe, which would also put him in the Transparent Closet. He seems to be a firm believer in No Bisexuals, despite evidence that he may at least be one.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Luke and Bess in Season 2 are based on the same characters in the original as Jake and Amy, and it shows.
  • Title Drop: In mid-sentence early in Paul's first session with April in the second season. Sort of inevitable.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Almost all of the patients lie to Paul about one thing or another, and Paul even lies or leaves critical pieces of information out of his sessions with Gina.
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?:
    • Gabriel Byrne really fluctuates in how much his Irish brogue pokes through. It is mentioned that Paul grew up there and moved to the states sometime in his teens.
  • 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.
     Tropes present in Season 4 
  • The Alcoholic: Brooke is a recovering alcoholic, but begins drinking again after a decade of sobriety following her father's death. When her sponsor Rita finds out, she cuts Brooke out of her life, promising to be there for her when and if she's ready to get sober again. She makes good on this promise in the last episode, when Brooke finally decides that she is.
  • Country Matters: In their first session, Brooke gives Colin permission to swear as much as he wants, but when he asks if he can use the word "cunt", she answers honestly that she would prefer if he didn't. She offers to explain why she finds that word in particular to be "violent", but he insists he isn't a misogynist and that he uses it in his personal life to mean a cruel and unpleasant person.