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Web Therapy

Kevin Hilke

<i>Web Therapy</i>

The absurdity of much of Freud leads many to dismiss his proposition that analysis might in some cases be interminable as poppycock. Web Therapy, an improvised web series produced by Dan Bucatinsky and star Lisa Kudrow, takes this anti-therapeutic protestation to its cathected extreme, embodying it in Fiona Wallice, a woman who holds no psychological degrees, but whose Wharton MBA and Wall Street background give her the gall to advertise herself as an accredited practitioner, operating exclusively via online video chat. Each session is limited to three minutes—stretching, as the series ages, to six or seven. Wallice’s rationale for this hardline limitation is ostensibly therapeutic—in three minutes, unlike fifty, she says counterintuitively and against all knowledge on the subject, you can actually get something done!—but in practice her motives are exploitatively capitalist and personal. The show’s chief virtue is that it replicates the isolated and intimate this-is-it-ness of the therapeutic experience: two people, unable to hide from one another in the hyperpressurized now. Psychotherapists strategically use this singular relationship of strategic deprivation and gratification to heal; Kudrow and Bucatinsky have lovingly employed its form to reimagine the sitcom. Showtime has announced plans to run longer episodes in 2011. It would be disappointing if like Head CaseWeb Therapy lost its dexterity as it abandoned the nurturant holding environment of the therapy session for the wider, hackneyed, 22-minute world. So long as Fiona’s practice stays tied to her desktop, that shouldn’t happen.  – Kevin Hilke

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