United States of Tara is one of the most unusual shows to hit TV in a while — even for Showtime, home of drug-dealing moms and sympathetic serial killers. First imagined by Steven Spielberg, created by Diablo Cody, and brought to life by a cast led by Toni Collette and John Corbett, the show centers on a suburban housewife named Tara who is living with Dissociative Identity Disorder, which causes alternate personalities to emerge when she's under stress. The show premieres on Sunday, and today, the cast and producers stopped by TCA. Here are some of the essential things to know — and be sure to check out some great pics of the stars over on Pop:
- It was important for Tara to be open about her condition. Cody said she's seen mental illness be destigmatized over the years, so it made sense for Tara's family not to keep her illness locked away. "Obviously there are some people who are frightened or curious," she said. "There are some people who are intrigued" — and that seemed like an appropriate, modern reaction.
- Deep down, the show's about acceptance. Nobody ever says outright that Collette's character is mentally ill, or that Tara's son is gay, or that her daughter is a jerk, said Brie Larson, who plays teenage daughter Kate. "There's no labels on this show, and I think that's the most interesting part."
- But not everyone's OK with Tara's personalities. One of the most tense relationships on the show is between Tara and her younger sister, Charmaine (Rosemarie DeWitt). "Charmaine always thought that Tara got more attention," Cody said. "She's always been resentful of that." Charmaine has an occasional flirtation with Max (Corbett), Tara's husband, but Cody said it's nothing with an actual romantic spark at this point — it's just a way for her to get someone to pay attention to her for once.
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- The show doesn't fit into any box. "It was just so delicious to read and so unusual, and it was a complete dream for an actor to play so many parts," said Collette of reading the script for the first time. "It is incredibly funny, but it also is incredibly moving and incredibly real."
- We might not have met all of the "alters." The show's official photo shows four personalities — Tara, Buck, T, and Alice — but "you will see new ones emerge," said producer Darryl Frank. The origin of the personalities, which have been created within Tara at different points in her life, also will be explored as the season goes on.
Photo courtesy of Showtime