May 15

Cops in Couples Therapy: “Common Law”

Cops in couples therapy? Not one cop in two therapies, as in TV’s Awake, but now there’s a new series featuring two cops in one therapy—it’s called Common Law, and it debuted last Friday on USA.

LAPD partners Travis Marks (Michael Ealy) and Wes Mitchell (Warren Kole) are apparently great detectives—but they bicker a lot. Not only that, during one case Wes actually pulls a gun on Travis. Mandatory couples therapy ensues. “And not just couples therapy, but group couples therapy, which is where we meet them attempting to explain their cantankerous relationship to a handful of married folk and the sexy but take-no-prisoners psychiatrist, Dr. Ryan (Sonya Walger).” (L.A. Times)

A BuddyTV writer believes that this series about cops in couples therapy has promise but notes: “There’s so much banter between Wes and Travis, at every conceivable opportunity, that it all comes off as almost too cute. They seem to have a witty rejoinder for everything, making the show feel like solving the murder case is secondary to their one-liners and arguments.”

This also figures into the various complaints of another critic, Maureen Ryan, though most of her emphasis goes to the following tiresome phenomenon:

…the show makes nonsexual male intimacy seem weird or odd, which it isn’t — not unless you’re among a stubbornly unenlightened subset of TV writers, that is.

…I want to take this moment to introduce the ‘We’re friends, but we’re not gay’ schtick to the Cliche Hall of Fame.

But beyond the starter episode…One of the lead actors of Common Law tells a writer from the New York Post about the show’s progression: “’At a certain point in the show, the therapy becomes the Greek chorus,’ Ealy notes. ‘As the episodes grow, so do the characters and their connection to therapy and the therapist.'”

Writer Kelly West interviewed Sonya Walger, who plays the therapist: “’I think it’s really fun to watch men struggle to be articulate and I think it’s fun to watch them have to talk about their feelings,’ she explained. ‘I think it’s fun to watch them be answerable to a woman who I hope is not the ball buster, but is there holding them accountable in a way that they can’t wiggle out of. As cops you shouldn’t be able to flash that badge and get out of every situation and here’s a situation where the badge doesn’t count for anything.’”

She adds some info about Dr. Ryan’s background that isn’t seen in the pilot episode: “’She’s a very successful high end therapist,’ Walger said. ‘Who gets fed up with prescribing pills to bored, wealthy patients and feels like she’s lost touch with the community.’”

Presumably, offering cops couples therapy is how she reconnects with the community.

Mar 01

“Awake”: Fantasy Crime Drama Involves Going to Therapy

A new TV show, a “fantasy crime drama,” debuts on NBC tonight called Awake. According to Wikipedia, it’s about a police detective, Michael Britten (Jason Isaacs) who returns to the job after a fatal car crash involving him, his wife, and his son. Who died—his wife or his son? Could it be both?

I have no idea. But the thing is, every time he now wakens from sleep there’s one of two different scenarios. One version of his post-sleep life finds only him and his wife alive, the other only him and his son alive. Is one of them a dream?

No, really—I don’t know. But, maybe his shrinks can help—that’s right—shrinks. Two of them. In one version of his post-accident life, he’s seeing psychiatrist Dr. Lee (B.D. Wong), described as a “confrontational” shrink, and in the other, he’s seeing psychologist Dr. Evans (Cherry Jones), who’s “more nurturing.” Which one is better?

How should I know? In an interesting twist for the gay community, though, each therapist is played by an openly gay actor. And the Advocate states that it’s the conversations that “…the surprisingly self-aware cop has with these two shrinks that fuel much of what’s wonderful about Awake.” Each shrink, by the way, believes his/her particular reality with his/her client is the “real” one, of course. Which one is right?

Wow—you ask way too many questions. Well, take a look at the preview below and see what you think. It seems to cover a lot of the essence of main character Britten’s dilemma.

Maybe you’re reading this too late and you’ve already missed the first episode. Don’t fret. Sleep it off. When you wake up, chances are you’ll turn on the TV and it’ll be on again—in an alternate reality.

And if that doesn’t work…well, there’s always therapy.