“United States of Tara” mini-cap: Wedding train


Before we get into the recap of United States of Tara’s season finale (with SPOILERS), I want to share this quote from an L.A. Times interview with Tara creator Diablo Cody.

“We’re constantly working with the consultant and psychiatrist. You have a real show and it’s rooted in reality. We don’t imagine things that happens to a person with DID. We always have an anecdote or data to back it up.”

That is quite a statement. Everything that happens to Tara has a real-life antecedent.

And this week, quite a lot happened.

I like to think that the idea of Charmaine’s wedding stemmed from Rosemarie DeWitt’s stellar performance in Rachel Getting Married. In many ways, this storyline paralleled that movie: a sister with serious problems could turn the bride’s happiest day into her worst.

The difference? Tara did exactly that. Well, not Tara herself, but her five-year-old alter Chicken.

Let’s set the stage a bit. As you recall, last week Tara and Charmaine discovered that Mimi, the Alice-like woman in Tara’s flashbacks, had a foster home for children from especially abusive homes and the girls lived with her. The sisters had no idea — at least not consciously — and the revelation triggered new alter Chicken.

Today is Char’s wedding. Tara dreads seeing her parents and Charmaine just wants to forget everything until after her big day. Tara does her best to put on a happy face.

But Frank is sliding into dementia and Tara soon learns that one of the things he’s forgotten is what he’s not supposed to tell his daughters.


Tara rushes to tell Charmaine about their half-brother, but Char doesn’t want to hear it. Her explanation is heartbreaking — and one of DeWitt’s finest moments of the year.


As you can see in the mirror, Tara is transitioning. Guess who’s coming to the wedding? Chicken. And when Charmaine sees the alter, she has a sick feeling her bullet train is about to go right off the tracks.

She’s right. During the wedding, Chicken acts like the five-year-old girl she is and Nick stops the ceremony. He can’t go through with it. His relieved parents follow him as he walks away.

Charmaine is devastated so Chicken tries to cheer her up. The sisters have a very sisterly (and funny) slap fight that ends when Chicken hits Char in the eye.


Hurting Char triggers Tara’s transition back to her primary alter. Could Chicken’s presence have been Tara’s way of protecting Char from marrying Nick?

Tara finally confronts her mother, who admits that they indeed have a half-brother, Bryce, from Frank’s previous marriage. “He had troubles,” Beverly said. When little Tara told her mom what Bryce was doing to her, she put the girls in a foster home until they could figure out what to do with him. She did it, she said, to keep the girls safe. But, apparently, she didn’t think it was worth mentioning to her daughters.


The clip just touches the surface of how powerful the scene between Tara and her parents is. Frank and Bev have held the key to Tara’s DID for her entire life, but never told her. The rest of the family is stunned. As are we.

As central as a sense of identity is, it can change in a heartbeat. When everything you thought was true suddenly seems false, you feel like you’re adrift at sea. You’re not sure what the real truth will mean as your life goes on, but you know nothing will ever be the same.

Every one of the key characters in United States of Tara experienced that feeling this season. Marshall accepted his sexual orientation, but can’t quite figure out how he fits into the gay world. Kate realized that she is no longer a child, but is not sure how to be an adult. Max gave in to his dark side and acted out in ways that surprised him and made him question his role as the rock of the family. Charmaine tried to escape her quirky family and have a “normal” life, but didn’t want to go farther than the house next door. And Tara experienced co-consciousness with an alter who wanted to help her integrate.

Much remains unresolved, but when the episode closes with Charmaine (still in her wedding dress) going out to get a drink with Neil and the rest of the family dancing together in the back yard, we know that all is well with the Gregson family. Because no matter how weird things get, they do love each other.

What did you think about United States of Tara’s season finale? Do you think knowing the cause of her DID will mean Tara is more integrated next season? How would you rate Tara Season 2?

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