How Is There Only One Therapist in All of Monterey?

How Is There Only One Therapist in All of Monterey?
Eventually all of thees women will see the same therapist. Screenshot: (HBO)

The fictional rendering of Monterey, California as portrayed on Big Little Lies is an enclave rich in breathtaking vistas, obscene wealth, tightly-wound parents, and lies. Five women slink around corners at children’s birthday parties and lurk in parking lots at night, hissing “the lie, the lieeeee” through gritted teeth. Fathers get into fistfights at these parties and a witch with a bad wig and unfortunate teeth lurks in the shadows, thinking about murder. Every person in this town should be in therapy—which is tricky, because there seems to be only one therapist in Monterey.

In the first season this show about mendacity, Dr. Reisman (Robin Weigert) provided a safe haven for Celeste (Nicole Kidman) to talk about her relationship with Perry. “When will you leave him, Celeste,” she asks, at least 100 times, as Celeste wraps a cashmere something or other around her thin shoulders and sinks back into the couch. This is perfect; there must always be a therapist in a show about lies, abuse, sexual proclivities, and wealthy women, and Dr. Reisman is it. She is everything a television therapist should be— calm and strong like a big oak tree—and even though she’s a “bad therapist,” according to some actual therapists who watch the show, she’s still better than nothing. Perhaps this is why she is the only therapist in Monterey, and, for this reason alone, is also counseling Madeline (Reese Witherspoon) and Ed (Adam Scott) in the second season as they navigate their way through the choppy waters of infidelity.

Dr. Reisman is a solid television therapist and might also be the kind of real-life therapist I’d find comforting: great sweaters, excellent therapist jewelry, an office that is appropriately dramatic in both its staging and its lighting. She says the right things at the right times and probes her clients further than an actual therapist might in a session, most likely because it’s television and not real life. She must also be extremely wealthy, because she is the only licensed professional servicing the fucked-up people of Monterey. I understand that the reason for this single therapist issue is because Big Little Lies is fiction and it is much more dramatic to have every single person who needs therapy see the same person. However, in a show that focuses so much on the chasm between outward appearances and inner turmoil, wouldn’t it be fun for everyone if there was a new therapist in town, so that Dr. Reisman could quake a little in her boots, and so the rest of the women on the show who need to speak to a professional can do so without wondering if the only therapist in town is judging them because of what their friend, ex-husband, or villainous mother-in-law might have said?

I’m wondering if there’s a spare therapist or three just a town or so over in Carmel-by-the-Sea (a real town name). Bonnie (Zoe Kravitz) will need something soon, and I’d bet two donuts and a piece of gum that Jane (Shailene Woodley) will want to seek treatment shortly to deal with the PTSD of her sexual assault, as well as any incoming trauma that will likely come after we all figure out why her new man is sneaking around the police station. There was no real need for a second season of this program, but we have one. Might be nice to spice it up with some healthy therapist competition and give Dr. Reisman a break.

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