Well, as a friend noted: “How can you possibly survive working on an IT mega-page??? That was what threw us ALL under the bus! Be careful.” And she is right. Season One of In Treatment is the event that brought many of us to Gabriel Byrne, if not for the first time, then certainly in a new and unexpected way.
Were we prepared for the effect that he and this remarkable artistic achievement would have on our collective psyches? No. As Peter O’Toole querulously whines in My Favorite Year, when presented with the insane notion of live television: “You mean it just spills out into people’s living rooms?!” (without rehearsal or a chance to fix errors). Yes. That is what happened in 2008 when In Treatment first aired and the unsuspecting public first experienced what felt like live psychotherapy on the television screen, with a psychotherapist designed to make one want to become a patient immediately. And permanently.
Mass hysteria? Group cognitive dissonance? Individual psychosis? Or just a global meltdown of counter-transference? What was happening to everyone watching? If you were fortunate enough to participate in the HBO Forum dedicated to the show, you learned that you were not alone in your reaction to this unique experiment. Everyone was experiencing some kind of transference not generally possible outside of a therapist’s office. Men soon learned that it was futile to try to keep the conversation to therapeutic topics. We all fell in love with Paul Weston. And we all fell (or re-fell) in love with Gabriel Byrne.
We warmly responded to the fatherly professional who guided Sophie through her walkabout to an understanding of her past and future. We appreciated the conflicted therapist who tried to work his way through the maze of Alex’s dramatic experiences. We commiserated with the intellectual who attempted to respond in useful ways to the conundrum of Jake and Amy’s complicated relationship. We had a difficult time ourselves as Paul the man tried so hard to maintain an ethical balance in his relationship with the Circe who presented herself as Laura. We commiserated with the husband who could not find a way to stay true to his wife–notwithstanding that she could not stay true to him. And we were mesmerized by the Paul who presented himself on a weekly basis to his colleague and nemesis Gina, when he showed his true colors and laid bare his own feelings.
But mostly we fell in love (and lust) with Gabriel Byrne. Those hands. Those eyes. Again, those eyes and that gaze. We fell over. We were indeed thrown under a bus, a bus that we did not see coming and now we were destroyed. No one could recall a dramatic experience so real, so palpably true to life. No one could remember an actor whose demeanor and whose physical appearance so stunned them. This was not acting. This was real. How was this possible?
Most of us have still not recovered. Oh, we have gone on with our lives, but there is this memory of an experience of art that we never expected and that caught us off-guard. An experience that made us talk about and think about issues and feelings we tended to ignore or bury or refuse to investigate. In Treatment Season One tore down the fourth wall. If there were a fifth wall, it would have been destroyed, too. We ourselves were laid bare. Unexpected. Unanticipated. Utterly bewildering and completely enthralling.
The In Treatment Season One Mega Television Page offers a reminder of those heady days: promotional images, reviews, quotes, videos, screencaps and more are ready to spark a memory of all those patients and of the incomparable Gabriel Byrne in his shattering performance as Dr. Paul Weston, the therapist with whom we all wish we had an appointment tomorrow.