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Recommended: The Patient on FX on Hulu

Thanks to Steve Carell, this twisty thriller also works as a dark satire of therapy culture.
  • Steve Carell in The Patient (Photo: Suzanne Tenner/FX)
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    The Patient | FX on Hulu
    Ten-Episode Limited Series (Thriller) | TV-MA

    What's The Patient About?

    From the creators of one of the decade's greatest shows, The Americans, comes a limited series about a therapist who's hired by a serial killer wanting to be cured of his homicidal urges. Just to be on the safe side, the killer takes him hostage.

    Who's involved?

    • Steve Carell plays Dr. Alan Strauss, a therapist who's still reeling from the unexpected death of his wife when he takes on his most challenging patient. He's also an executive producer on The Patient.
    • Domhnall Gleeson is very well cast as Sam, the patient, a truck-drivin', country-music-listenin' psychopath.
    • Linda Emond plays Sam's mother Candace. Because, of course, Sam has mommy issues.
    • David Alan Grier plays Alan's former therapist, Charlie.
    • Laura Niemi appears in flashbacks as Alan's late wife Beth.
    • Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg (who created, produced and wrote The Americans for FX) co-created, wrote and produced all 10 episodes of The Patient.

    Why (and to whom) do we recommend it?

    The definition of suspense is not knowing where the hell the story is going and wanting to follow it to the end. By that definition, The Patient is good suspense — even more than its Hannibal Lecter-y premise might suggest. But the real reason to keep watching is its very deep, dark weird streak.

    The Patient is a satirical take on our therapeutic culture disguised as a thriller, the kind that you find yourself chuckling at during highly inappropriate scenes. And that's only possible thanks to Steve Carell, who has made a career playing characters whose sincerity and conviction connect with an audience that knows he knows it's all an act.

    "It's OK, I know this is hard." That's a line Dr. Strauss gives Sam in the middle of Episode 5, and it's just one of many stock therapist responses imbued with a kind of chilling hilarity here.

    Meanwhile, Strauss is haunted by flashbacks of his wife Beth, who is sometimes seen leading worship at the family's synagogue. These depictions of American Jewish culture are rare on TV, and they walk us slowly into the backstory of Strauss' own troubled past and how helping his current patient will also let the healing begin for him. If he lives that long.

    Between the taut plotting and the dark laughs, The Patient is expertly calibrated to lure viewers in. Episode 1 takes just over 19 minutes, and the run times grow slowly from there, along with the need to keep seeing how things will turn out.

    Pairs well with

    • The Night Manager: Tom Hiddleston and Hugh Laurie circle each other in AMC's improbable cat-and-mouse spy game. (Streaming on Prime Video.)
    • Shtisel: Blockbuster Israeli series that follows life in an ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Jerusalem. (Streaming on Netflix.)
    • Angie Tribeca: Steve and his real-life wife Nancy Carell created this gloriously dumb spoof of police procedurals. (Streaming on Hulu.)

  • The Patient
    Premieres exclusively on Hulu (sorry, FX's cable subscribers!) with two episodes Tuesday, August 30. New episodes Tuesdays through October 18.
    Created by: Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg.
    Starring: Steve Carell, Domhnall Gleeson, Linda Emond, David Alan Grier, Laura Niemi, and Andrew Leeds.
    Directed by: Chris Long, Gwyneth Horder-Payton, and Kevin Bray.
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    TOPICS: The Patient, FX on Hulu, Andrew Leeds, Chris Long, David Alan Grier, Domhnall Gleeson, Gwyneth Horder-Payton, Joel Fields, Joe Weisberg, Kevin Bray, Laura Niemi, Linda Emond, Steve Carell