Dr. Paul Weston
Directors: Paris Barclay, Rodrigo Garcia, Melanie Mayron, Christopher Misiano
Writers: Rodrigo Garcia, Nir Bergman, Hagai Levi, Ori Sivan, Sarah Treem, Merritt Johnson, Amy Lippman, Bryan Goluboff, Davey Holmes, Daphna Levin, Asaf Tzipor, Yael Hedaya
Actors: Gabriel Byrne, Melissa George, Blair Underwood, Mia Wasikowska, Embeth Davidtz, Josh Charles, Dianne Wiest
Based on the Israeli television series, Be’Tipul
Gabriel Byrne appeared in all 106 episodes of this series.
Gabriel Byrne won the Golden Globe for Best Actor in 2009 for his work in Season One.
One doctor. Five sessions. Five nights a week.
This unconventional TV series follows a therapist, Paul (Gabriel Byrne), whose patients are steadily becoming more than he can handle. Each have their dark secrets, hidden traumas, and violent battles raging within. Among them are Laura (Melissa George), who has fallen in love with Paul; Alex (Blair Underwood), an Iraq veteran reexamining his life; Sophie (Mia Wasikowska), a suicidal teenager; and Jake and Amy (Josh Charles and Embeth Davidtz), a picture-perfect couple whose relationship is in jeopardy. This first season finds Paul returning to therapy himself, with an old colleague, Gina (Dianne Wiest), helping him come to terms with his mounting professional dilemmas. Like a series of one-act plays, most of the show’s dialogue-heavy episodes take place within the confines of Paul’s office. During its original broadcast schedule, each patient “was seen” on a different night, five nights a week, offering viewer’s a unique experience for following their development. —Rotten Tomatoes
First Season: Paul Weston appears to be a successful psychotherapist and family man, but in reality both his professional and personal life are falling apart as he faces a midlife crisis. Increasingly drawn into the dilemmas of his patients, Paul finds himself seeking help from his retired former therapist, Gina, whom he hasn’t seen in 8 years. Every episode revolves around a therapy session with one of his five patients, returning on a weekly basis, or his own sessions with Gina.–The New York Times
An innovative and emotional new series, ‘In Treatment’ brings dynamic focus to a staple of modern society – the psychotherapy session. Adapted from a popular Israeli series, the show follows psychoanalyst Paul Weston through his week, capturing a session each night with his patients – Laura, Alex, Sophie and married couple Jake and Amy – before concluding each Friday in the office of Paul’s own therapist, Gina. Stepping inside the tangled mind of a man who counsels others for a living, ‘In Treatment’ renders an intricate portrayal of the experts we rely on for perspective.–AceShowBiz
Character information from the HBO In Treatment website:
A young, attractive anesthesiologist named Laura arrives crying. After her boyfriend Andrew gave her an ultimatum to either get married or break up, she went out for a drink and met a random man in a bar. She feels horrible after having a sexual encounter with the stranger in a public bathroom, but she says the guilt stems from her feelings about Paul. “You’ve become the center of my life,” she tells the therapist, but he responds that he’s not an option.
Alex, an intense Navy pilot, puts Paul’s credentials to the test, while recounting the unfortunate events in Iraq that drove him to therapy: He killed 16 boys flying a bombing mission on the outskirts of Baghdad. He insists he doesn’t have a guilty conscience, explaining that his whole life he has been pushed to excel by his father – and as a member of the military elite. When Paul tries to delve into the father-son issues, Alex resists. Alex relays that he had a heart attack and technically died while running a marathon shortly after the bombing mission; Paul suggests he may have pushed himself so hard physically as a way to atone. Once again Alex denies Paul’s suggestion and asks Paul to weigh in on whether his desire to make a return visit to the bombing site is a good idea but Paul refuses to take responsibility for Alex’s decision.
Sophie, a precocious young gymnast, seeks Paul’s professional opinion for an insurance report following her recent suspicious accident. The Olympic hopeful explains she was sent to Paul by her lawyer because the insurance company suspects that she may have purposely ridden her bike into the car. While Sophie explains she only needs to see Paul to get the report, she admits that her mother fears Sophie tried to kill herself. Sophie insists she wouldn’t hurt herself just before the Nationals. She tells Paul that her father and Si, her coach, are the only people who care about her.
Jake and Amy:
As the session begins, Paul and an agitated Jake wait for Amy to arrive. Pacing the office in his muddy boots, Jake makes a series of angry phone calls in search of Amy – including a conversation with their son, Lenny, who apparently is binging on Fritos much to Jake’s disgust. Eventually, Amy breezes in, apologizing for being late, but wearing a newly-bought and expensive-looking business outfit, raising Jake’s suspicions as to where she’s been. At first, Amy claims to have come from a meeting at a café with her boss, but with some pointed prodding from Jake, admits she’s been to their OB doctor to take the next steps for an abortion. Despite spending five years in fertility treatment, Amy does not want to have this baby. After Paul suggests their real problem lies with their inability to accept each other, Jake aggressively forces Paul to blurt out that he thinks they should have an abortion. Trying to reclaim a more neutral stance, Paul insists that he can only help them to come to a correct decision for themselves. After they leave, Paul places a call to his former supervisor Dr. Gina Taub.
When Paul arrives at Gina’s after a long period of no contact, she offers him a drink – and then tells him that he’s sitting in her chair. He explains that he’s having problems with his patients and runs through his outburst with Jake and Laura’s feelings toward him. He quotes one of Gina’s old lessons that therapists need an audience to see how cleverly they deal with their patients, but Gina corrects him, saying she meant therapists require criticism. She recalls that he was very angry the last time he visited her – he even skipped an important funeral – and she asks what role he’s assigned her: friend, colleague, therapist? Paul explains that he’s arguing with Kate and often doesn’t know where she is. Gina alludes that his failing marriage may have to do with the erotic transference he’s experiencing with Laura. He accuses her of affixing her own agenda and preconceived notions to his problems, and when she asks him what’s bugging him so much, he replies, “You are.”
Gina Week 4
Laura Week 5
Laura Week 6
Laura Week 6, part 2
More promotional images for Season One are in the Gallery.
Paul: What happened last night?
Laura: Well, what didn’t happen? The long version or the bottom line? Because the bottom line is very simple. My life is over.
Paul: Then, you’d better tell me the long version.
Alex: So, are there any rules?
Alex: Ground rules. Anything I should know before we start?
Paul: Oh… Not really. It’s more or less… It’s more or less up to you.
Alex: Oh, right, right. I’m a customer.
Paul: Yeah. Though in my profession we say that the customer is always wrong.
[Alex looks surprised at Paul]
Paul: That’s a… It’s a therapist’s joke.
Paul: [reading a report Sophie made him read] According to what it says here… it looks like you could have died too.
Sophie: Yeah, that would have solved a lot of problems.
Paul: What would it solve?
Sophie: Nothing. I didn’t mean anything by it.
Paul: Is that why you came here today, Sophie? For me to tell you that you’re all right? That you’re not crazy? Is that the test you’re afraid of failing?
Paul: If patients could see what I think about them. If they could really see inside my head, they’d head for the hills, believe me. They’d run for cover.
Gina: I always ask myself, ‘If they were to diagnose therapists whose marriages fell apart, how many cases of erotic transference would they find?’
Paul: What does that mean?
Gina: That sometimes erotic transference in therapy is a test of your married life. If a therapist can’t handle a situation where his patient falls in love with him, it may indicate some breakdown in his private life.
Paul: Perhaps I’m an alternative to everything that Andrew represents… Dependency, anxiety. But I am not a realistic option for you. This is a safe place where you can come, like David at the beach.
Laura: Yes, but with one big difference.
Paul: What’s that?
Laura: I don’t want you to adopt me, I want you to fuck me.
Laura: [to Paul] Something in you is restless, damaged. There’s a yearning there, and I know it when I see it. And I want you just the way you are… Damaged and restless, yearning… Warts and all.
Paul: You know what amazes me? What really gets me is that you can go to this guy’s place. And then you can come home here all wet and flushed and excited and horny. And you can sit down with our son and do his homework. How does that make you feel? I just want to know how does that make you feel?!
Kate: It makes me feel like shit. And a week later I go back and I do it all over again.
Paul: Grownups can forget. Children can’t.
Paul: I’m not a magician. I don’t know anything more than what you’ve told me.
Sophie: I fucking hate you! You never say what you really mean. You know, you’re just like all the rest of them. Why can’t anyone ever tell anyone else the truth? I can’t listen to any more of your stupid bullshit words.
Paul: The fact that you were testing me at all, that’s a kind of a failure for me, that you should feel you had to test my love for you.
Sophie: Your love?
Paul: Yeah. I can’t treat somebody that I don’t love. I have to find something in each of my patients that I love. Otherwise I won’t be able to treat them.
Sophie: I bet you had to search me with a magnifying glass to find something to love.
Paul: I remember the first day that you came here and you were walking around the office and you… And you asked me about these boats. You said to me, “Are these here because you don’t really sail?” And I said, “Yeah.” And you said, “Well, maybe you should make one of those glass windows like they have on boats, so that you can see the world.” Do you remember that? When you said that… I think that’s when I started to… To love who you are.
Paul: I don’t think there’s anything beneath our dignity if it takes us places our dignity refuses to go.
Laura: What am I gonna do?
Paul: We’ll talk about it next week.
More posters and other promotional images are in the Gallery.
press conference, 2008
More press conference images are in the Gallery.
Generally favorable reviews
Review by David Bianculli on Fresh Air
“In Treatment,” however, is hypnotic, mostly because it withholds information as intelligently as it reveals it. Each night a new half-hour episode follows a different patient’s session. In every session the patients’ words are veined with allusions and elusions, clues to problems or patterns that are invisible to them but absorbing for the viewer.
Other articles at The New York Times
If you’ve ever been in therapy, thought about going into therapy, known anyone in therapy or just really like Gabriel Byrne and/or Dianne Wiest (and I think I have covered the vast majority of Americans here), “In Treatment” is television as controlled substance — highly addictive. The therapist’s office may be in danger of being worn ragged as a dramatic construct — indeed, between “The Sopranos” and “Tell Me You Love Me,” it is tempting to wonder if HBO executives are making some kind subconscious plea for help. But “In Treatment” writer-director Rodrigo Garcia refuses to apologize or equivocate. He just puts troubled people in a (very lovely, evocatively lighted) room and writes the hell out of it.
Which doesn’t mean “In Treatment” is perfect. At times the construct of two or three people sitting in a room talking for half an hour becomes stagey, and the level of antagonism each patient aims at Paul in almost every episode strains not only believability (surely grown-ups would not waste their money talking about their therapist’s failings when they could be talking about themselves) but also the dramatic pitch. Nor are all of the characters or storylines as compelling as the others — I found Laura grating rather than seductive, and the Alex storyline failed to capture me.
That said, I watched all seven weeks that HBO sent me (that’s 35 episodes, people), one after the other, as fast as I could clear the room of my young children. I stayed up past midnight, grew hollow-eyed and pale, missed meals and refused to answer my cellphone or check my e-mail just so I could squeeze in another episode. It wasn’t pretty, but it sure was fun.
Part of this you can chalk up to a lifelong pash for Byrne, who is at the top of his fretful haunted game, portraying a man truly devoted to his clients and his science and yet depressed, repressed, narcissistic and occasionally downright whiny. Having now officially turned the noncommittal murmur into an art form, Byrne uses his craggy brow and tragic Irish eyes to their best advantage, making Paul, at the base of it, noble enough, a man seeking to correct his failings even if he can’t quite bring himself to admit them.
I think what I like the most about “In Treatment” is that Paul, a busy, distracted, somewhat arrogant expert who’s fiercely proud of his work, is so often completely out of control of his professional life: Laura manipulates him, Alex knows how to get his goat, and almost-divorced couple Jake and Amy both seem to hate his guts. Then Gina and Kate can hardly keep themselves from exchanging disbelieving looks and eye rolls of disgust as he intellectualizes, condescends or arrogantly justifies being led around by his desires.
This is a character who takes the legs out from under the notion of the heroic, infallible, outspoken professional, much the way McNulty’s slow downward slide this season on “The Wire” has served the same purpose. Paul Weston is a therapist, but with the help of Gabriel Byrne (who absolutely deserves an Emmy for the range he demonstrates and the palpable inner conflict he reveals with such restraint), we see that he’s also just a man, one whose flaws, however forgivable, are poised to bring his entire world crashing down around him at any moment.
But then, in the second, third and fourth episodes, a completely different picture emerges. The characters are less predictable and their stories unfold more slowly. Weston acts more like a detective than a therapist at times, trying to separate fact from fiction in each client’s anecdotes, confessions and observations. It’s obvious that Navy pilot Alex (Blair Underwood) is arrogant and controlling, but does he feel guilty about his actions during the Iraq war (the most obvious explanation), or is he simply incapable of empathy? Are Jake (Josh Charles of “Sports Night”) and Amy (Embeth Davidtz) a good couple who are caught up in a pattern of contempt and lies, or should they just give up on their marriage? Why is Sophie (Mia Wasikowska), a teenage gymnastics hopeful, so sad and angry? What kind of a relationship does she have with her parents and her coach?
For a show with relatively few viewers even by premium-cable standards, HBO’s In Treatment gets a whole lot of media attention. Some of that interest is, no doubt, a result of Darwinian selectivity: The innovative five-night-a-week, nine-week drama about the personal and professional life of psychotherapist Paul Weston — played by Gabriel Byrne — resonates loudly with the therapeutically oriented population who write about it. But particular identification among the byline set doesn’t explain the passion with which even nonprofessionals analyze each episode. Many are convinced they can read into the broody soul of the shrink by analyzing the meaning of his model-boat collection. Me, I’m convinced I can analyze the broody soul of an entire TV network by extracting meaning from the appearance of another psychoanalytic chair so soon after Tell Me You Love Me and The Sopranos.
Dan: *snot-filled weeping*
Dr. Lane: *pushes box of tissues toward Dan*
Dr. Lane: What seems to be the problem?
Dan: I’ve been waiting four hours for you to open up your office.
Dan: I almost froze to death out there.
Dr. Lane: Sorry, I was watching this new therapy show on HBO and fell asleep.
Dan: I did a terrible thing last night, and it was with In Treatment.
Dr. Lane: Oh?
Dan: I’ve had some good times with my boyfriend, HBO, over the last few years.
Dan: The Wire, The Sopranos, they’ve all been great.
Dan: But last night, out of fucking nowhere, HBO just starts crying and is like, “Dan, I need you to make a commitment.”
Dan: “Either you watch In Treatment five nights a week, or it’s over between us.”
Hiero Hero [this website is no longer available]
In Treatment is a tour de force in acting led by one of the finest actor’s in the last half century, Gabriel Byrne. His portrayal of therapist Dr Paul is nuanced, layered, and eminently real. If you haven’t seen this show, now’s the time to discover HBO’s hidden gem. True Blood may get all the ratings and the hype, but there is no better television than In Treatment.
Jung At Heart: Afterthoughts on Paul and Counter-Transference [this blog provides an analysis of each episode from all three seasons]
Paul, because he has not sufficiently dealt with the issues in his life — his marriage, his father complex, his need to be wanted and to feel he can care for and nurture a woman, falls prey to this common hazard and counter-transferentially believes he is in love with Laura as she believes she is with him. It is his fantasy of her, that she would adore him and make him feel good as a man, which his wife does not, at least not now. Laura and Paul become infected with the same fantasy, the same psychic virus.
International Psychoanalysis: The Reviewers Speak and the Viewers Respond: shrinks analyze the episodes
Gabriel Byrne & inTreatment: fansite
In Treatment on Tumblr: mostly images, some quotes and remarks
The first season was nominated for a number of awards. These are the awards that the show actually won.
Emmy Awards, 2008
• Won, Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series: Dianne Wiest
• Won, Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series: Glynn Turman for playing “Alex Sr.”
Golden Globes USA, 2009
• Won, Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Drama: Gabriel Byrne
Gracie Allen Awards, 2009
• Won, Outstanding Supporting Actress – Drama Series: Dianne Wiest
Fan-made In Treatment t-shirt
Stella’s Open Letter to Gabriel Byrne
This was published in the New York Times blog, The Medium, which was run by Virginia Heffernan
Dear Mr. Byrne,
I would like to thank you for the amazing feat you accomplished in the first season of the HBO series In Treatment. Within the confines of specific scripts, dialogue, a particular setting, a cast of colleagues and a group of directors, you created a character named Dr. Paul Weston who, over a period of nine weeks, became a real person to me.
Beyond any direction you might have received and any words written for this part, you made him multi-dimensional and complex, and most importantly, you breathed life into him and made him an engrossing, thought-provoking, and recognizable human being. Such things just do not happen in television, so I applaud your efforts and your achievement with gratitude and appreciation. Needless to say, many others feel as I do, critics and viewers alike.
I understand that you are in negotiations to reprise this role in the second season of In Treatment. I want you to know why it is important, from my point of view, for you to consider doing so, in spite of any reservations you might have or scheduling problems that might be on the horizon. I have two reasons in mind:
1. What happens next? The series began in media res and pretty much ended there as well. We were dropped in the middle of Paul’s world, experienced it with him, and then watched as he struggled to come to grips with what was going on in his life. We became part of the other characters’ story arcs as well, of course, but Paul is the heart of the matter and it is his struggle that held us. What is going to happen to him? Will he open himself to the future or continue to be chained by the past? Can he become a student of his own teachings–can he examine his past, learn to accept it, and grow to become more than he is? Will he try? We want to know.
2. More importantly, we need this character on television because there is no one else like him. I am an avid consumer of media (film, TV, theater) and I can tell you that I have never witnessed such a sustained and mesmerizing act of character analysis and self-revelation anywhere on stage, on screen, or on the tube. This in itself is enough to warrant bringing him back: a kind of “art for art’s sake.” However, I will take it one step further: while this character is a positive role model, one who gives of himself to others and is a caring, warm, intuitive, empathetic and trustworthy professional, he is also conflicted, complicated, and prey to all of the frailties of the human psyche that we all face. He is multi-dimensional, multi-faceted, and just about as real as an actor could make him. We need this. We need this kind of portrayal, this kind of art, as often as we can get our hands on it. Selfish, true, but there it is.
It would be naive for me to argue that you did this all alone, in a vacuum. Of course you did not. There is an incredible infrastructure within which you are working to create such a character in a television series. However, I do assert that you brought your particular set of skills, your abilities, and your experience to bear on creating this role and making this character real. No one else can portray him. And he needs to come to life once more. Only you can do it.
You do not know me and I do not know you. Except I think I do know you. Many others feel as I do. And that is the crux of the problem.
We miss Paul Weston. And we miss you. Please come back to him and to us.
[Note: We do not know if Mr. Byrne ever read this letter, but we do know that Season Two was made, and what a season it was!]
How does Gabriel Byrne, the therapist in the HBO version, compare to his counterpart in the Israeli version?
Ours was a very Israeli therapist. He was fat, he was rude sometimes, he was aggressive – he wasn’t so polite and professional as Gabriel. Gabriel’s intelligence and sharpness is very important for the series.
I imagine it must be an exhausting role to play?
Our therapist in the Israeli version, who is called Reuben, not Paul, was exhausted sick after the two seasons. It’s really exhausting. As an actor it’s a very hard job – you should do very little… just listen and be… and all the actors in front of you are making their show because they are the patient; you are not allowed to anything almost, just be very professional, listen and say your thing. It’s a very hard job for an actor. Also you there day after day and all the other actors just come once a week.
IMDB In Treatment page (includes all seasons)
Wikipedia In Treatment page (includes all seasons)
Many thanks to Byrneholics Forum members for screencaps, videos, and other suggestions for this page!