Jon Hein knows TV. In the late 1990s, he coined the phrase "Jump the Shark" when he founded the site of the same name. Since then, he's written about television everywhere from The New York Times to TV Guide. In his column for Primetimer, he shares his thoughts on what's new and good on TV and the shows on his radar for the coming week.
Therapy is deeply personal. So how can it be televised?
Couples Therapy completed its second season on Showtime. Real couples, real problems, a real therapist, and cameras recording every moment. In Treatment, which is based on actual therapy sessions, is returning for a fourth season on HBO. Those who pay for cable want to see people on the couch reveal their most intimate problems.
These shows confound me. If you've ever been to therapy, one of its most treasured aspects is your privacy. You are confiding in a professional who has absolutely nothing to do with your life. They don't know your family, your friends, your work, or even you to a certain extent. It's an objective slate.
This remains true on therapy TV with one important caveat. These intimate moments are right there for anyone who pays for cable to see. Congratulations, you're a reality TV star. At least In Treatment uses actors instead of actual patients.
Therapists helping therapists is another popular theme on these types of shows. Who helps the ones helping us? Watching a doctor fine tune his or her technique is a peek behind the curtain I'd rather not take.
I understand that these sessions aren't televised live and some view them as educational for those who experience similar problems but would never go to therapy. I'm just not buying it.
The only fictional doctors I want to see are on ER or Grey's Anatomy. There have been documentaries and news magazine segments about what goes on in an actual hospital ward, and frankly, they're tough to watch.
Couples Therapy is eerily reminiscent of the celebrity rehab craze. I know Dr. Drew and he's a good man with a big heart, and he'd argue that putting this stuff out there removes the stigma and helped the falling stars who appeared on these shows. I feel that if you were serious about rehab, you wouldn't need the spotlight.
You won't find my doctor or therapist on television. I'd prefer they be superstars in the medical field and more concerned with their patients than camera angles.
As for the couples, do they really think they're going to solve their problems by putting it out there for all to see? Social media encourages us to put all of our lives on display, but for who and why? Even though the cameras are hidden, their presence has to affect the therapist and patients to a certain degree.
Let's compromise here. A fly on the wall situation could be interesting. The therapist and patients would need to be completely unaware. No one playing to the cameras. Raw emotion on display
To the TV therapists out there, focus on being good at your job. Just don't put it on television so I can see it.
(Shows Premiering That I'm Not A Fan Of But You Might Be!)
Trying (APPLE TV+) – A British couple really wants a baby in this cute comedy. Returns for Season 2 on Friday.
The Bite (SPECTRUM) – COVID creates zombies from the creators of The Good Wife. Debuts Friday.
In Treatment (HBO) – Back for Season 4 after a ten-year break. Sunday appointment.
Master of None (NETFLIX) – Season 3 is all Denise & Alicia with no Dev in sight. Premieres Sunday.
THIS WEEK'S PICKS
70's music, heartwarming sci-fi and 90's financing…
1971: The Year That Music Changed Everything (APPLE TV+)
Friday May 22nd
The Stones. Aretha. Bob Marley. Marvin Gaye. Joni Mitchell. The list goes on and on from a year in music that literally changed the world. This eight-part docuseries recaptures the tunes that shaped the culture and politics of a very turbulent time in history.
I've been writing a lot about music lately. This pandemic helped me realize how music moves me in a variety of ways. It's comforting, stimulating and a huge part of my life. This deep dive into music from 50 years ago makes you realize why these artists have had such staying power.
Apple TV+ has been on a nice roll with its programming. Ted Lasso and For All Mankind were two of my favorites this past year. Once they stop trying to be everything for everyone, Apple TV+ can really be something special.
Friday May 22nd
Excellent actors and science fiction are always a powerful combination for any TV series. Solos explores the present and the future of how we are connected through the human experience.
This seven-part series puts a positive spin on Black Mirror-like tales. Anne Hathaway, Morgan Freeman and Helen Mirren lead the stacked all-star cast. These character-driven stories are trips worth taking. Watch trailer.
Black Monday (SHOWTIME)
Sunday, May 23rd Season 3 premiere 10pm
Financial scheming has never been more fun on this Showtime series. Each season, the characters keep moving forward and the plot continues to evolve.
In Season 3, Mo steps into the music business in the early 90's while Dawn serves her time and Congressman Blair makes his way through the political world. Don Cheadle, Regina Hall, Andrew Rannells and Paul Scheer lead the fantastic cast who change so smoothly with the times.
If you love or hate my picks, I'd love to hear from you.
Get vaccinated. Stay healthy and safe.
Jon Hein is the creator of "Jump the Shark" and author of three books. Follow him @jonhein on Twitter.