Where is Part 2, you ask? It will focus on writer Sarah Treem and is still being developed. However, Dan Futterman and Anya Epstein have saved me the trouble of writing about THEM by talking to Terrie Gross at NPR’s Fresh Air, so here they are:
In Treatment’s show runners, Anya Epstein and Dan Futterman, join Terry Gross for a discussion about the Peabody Award-winning series and explain how they kept the current season’s episodes consistent with the show’s tone. The show’s third season, which began on Oct. 26, was the first season conceived entirely from scratch. The first two were adapted, often line by line, from Israeli writer Hagai Levi’s script.
Read the introduction and then listen (and if the embedded player below is not working, just listen at the NPR site, where the introduction is):
A transcript of the conversation is also available.
Mr. DAN FUTTERMAN (Writer, “In Treatment”): Hagai Levi, the Israeli creator, set up a great template in that this therapist is not just any old therapist. He’s a therapist who’s specifically challenged by his patients, in that he’s always having to figure out how far do I go?
Do I cross the line with this patient? Am I interested in this patient, jealous of this patient, angry, turned on? And that has continued in the American series. And that became the challenge for us, to find story lines that would awaken different parts of Paul Weston and tempt him to either cross the line or hold back.
For Paul Weston, the Gabriel Byrne character, that’s his drama throughout all these sessions: How far do I go? How much am I tempted to cross lines with these patients?
Ms. EPSTEIN: We wanted to do that without repeating the same dynamics that Hagai had landed on and done so well. So, you know, we felt that we had seen two male patients so far that Paul sort of entered a confrontational dynamic with. And we thought okay, what kind of male character can we bring in where the dynamic is different? And that led pretty early on to Irrfan Kahn’s storyline.
GROSS: Well, let’s talk about that storyline. He’s a Bengali man whose wife has died. So he’s moved to Brooklyn to live with his son and his daughter-in-law, who is American-born. But he’s very unhappy living with them. Do you want to explain why?
Mr. FUTTERMAN: First, I want to say that we, you know, in talking about how do we challenge Gabriel, having been through a number of patients in the first two series, how do we continue to challenge him both as a character, Paul, and also as an actor. And one of the things we landed on was let’s, why don’t we just cast the best actor in the world to play opposite him. And, you know, somebody’s got to be the best in the world. And I think it’s Irrfan Kahn.
GROSS: He’s great. He’s really great.
Mr. FUTTERMAN: He is amazing. I mean, who knows on the female side, you know, maybe Meryl Streep, Tilda Swinton, who knows? I think it’s Irrfan Kahn on the male side.
So that was thrilling to us to have him finally agree to do it and I think really exciting to Gabriel. For the question that you asked about the character, he has lost his wife about six months ago. He’s been transplanted to Brooklyn and living with and in a very Americanized household.
His son, who used to be Arun in Calcutta has since attended university and met his now-wife. He’s calling himself Aaron(ph), and they’re raising their children in a very Americanized household. And his daughter-in-law, playing terrifically well by Sonya Walger, is both a little harsh, critical and also provocative in certain ways, toward Sunil, Irrfan’s character, in ways that he finds both intriguing and confusing and somewhat angering.
Thanks to acool for the heads up on this!
photo by Jeff Riedel
New York Magazine, October 2010