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Most movie-goers only know Diablo Cody as the talented scribe behind the 2007 surprise hit Juno. True fans know that this tattooed stripper-turned-blogger-turned-writer has spent the last couple years writing for her Emmy-nominated show The United States of Tara.

Toni Collette

 

The show stars Aussie Toni Collette as Tara Gregson, a mother, wife, and painter who has dissociative identity disorder – that’s the fancy name for multiple personality order – and struggles to deal with her four very distinct alternate personalities which emerge when she’s under stress. There’s “Buck,” a truck-driving Vietnam vet who likes his beer cold and his women hot, “T” the rebellious and flirty teenager, “Alice” the perfect repressed 1950’s housewife, and the feral newcomer, “Gimme.” 

 

Despite having only one very busy personality, Cody still found time to talk to Dish about the show – currently in its second season - and dealing with her rapid rise to fame.

 

The big news late last season was the introduction of “Gimme,” a wild animal-like personality. While plenty of shows have introduced new characters in an attempt to boost flagging ratings and freshen up a stale premise, Tara hardly needed any cheap tricks to stay successful. 

 

Diablo Cody sets the record straight, “We weren’t compelled to do it. We really felt that we had a strong enough system and a strong enough family. People have become attached to the Gregsons and we didn’t need to turn it into this rotating dog-and-pony show of alters. At the same time, there were so many dramatic changes this season we felt it was actually a situation where she would develop a new coping mechanism.” 

 

UNITED STATES OF TARA

Of course, fans are wondering what these dramatic changes are going to be. Cody explains, “There is so much drama, there’s the house next door. The season begins with a suicide, which ends up being more impactful on the family than one might think. Keir [Gilchrist, who plays Tara’s homosexual son Marshall] is going through this major identity crisis. Kate finds this whole life outside of the house with Linda who is this character played by Viola Davis, who winds up being probably one of the major influences on the action this season. And Max is going to snap, everybody talks about how nice Max is, but they are going to be shocked." 

 

While Marshall’s homosexuality wasn’t a big deal in the first season, Cody discussed its role in the second season. “This season we figured it might be a different story with his peers; he’s a kid growing up in Kansas and he definitely has a bit of an identity crisis, in terms of his sexuality, what kind of kids he wants to hang out with, who he loves and that’s kind of his major journey for the season.” 

 

Cody Diablo

She has nothing but praise for Keir. “He [Marshall] was probably a lot less nuanced in my imagination than Keir Gilchrist has made him. Keir has brought him to life and people are responding to Keir, who is a brilliant young actor. So I’m grateful for that.”

 

Cody acknowledges that, just like Tara, there are multiple personalities behind the brilliant writing “At this point it’s become this wonderful hive mind with me and the other writers. I know there are some rare isolated cases in which you have a creator who is writing every episode. I don’t understand how that’s possible, because we all just work together and we all kind of raise this family together. It’s all just little fragments of each writer.” 

 

Although successful with Juno, Cody told Dish that trying to go from movies to television requires different perspectives. “It still presents a challenge for me in writing features because I bounce back and forth. The minute I get the hang of one discipline, I have to switch to the other. They are so different. It’s interesting to me that people even approach feature writers and say ‘hey, would you like to work in television?’ Because it’s like asking a basketball player if he would like to join Major League Baseball. I think it’s hurt me both ways."

 

I think Tara would sympathize. Catch her, Buck, Alice, T, and Gimme on Season Two of The United States of Tara on Showtime, Monday nights at 9:30 ET/PT.


www.Dishmag.com / Issue 109 - September 9159
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