We are on episode 7 of American Crime, with only 4 episodes left, and we have no clue what the truth is. With so many stories unfolding at the same time, it’s impossible to go into much depth as far as the characters go. As a viewer, this leaves me with a lot of unanswered questions. Is this an intentional device on the part of American Crime’s creators? Or is it a limitation in the writer’s capacity to live inside these complicated characters’ minds? T.C. Boyle, who is known for writing character driven fiction, speaks of the role of the writer...

Don Draper’s (Jon Hamm) on the chase again in Season 7, Episode 8, New Business, but this time he seems different. So is Diana (Elizabeth Reaser). Don’s more sensitive than he’s been with any woman in the past. But, Diana: she’s like the old Don running from his past, the one we’ve known for 7 Seasons. Then again, she’s also more real, honest and vulnerable than any woman Don’s been with. These are the two sides of Don. Which will win out? What will tip the scale in one direction or the other? If we look at Diana, we see Don. His...

Aubry’s (Caitlin Gerard) alive – but coming back to reality in the throes of withdrawal and without drugs is quite distressing. No one in American Crime wants to face the truth. Except, maybe Aliyah (Regina King), Carter’s sister. Truth can be very difficult to face. Aliyah says it well: “If they hurt Carter now it all goes away; their lies, their mistakes.” The wish to make something painful “go away” is human nature.  More so for those who have something very difficult to face, as the characters in American Crime certainly do. We try to make things “go away” with a variety...

Tomorrow night on American Crime - what’s happened to Aubry?  Stay Tuned. Nothing in Aubry’s (Caitlin Gerard) life is as important or as enticing as drugs.  Not even love.  And, she’ll put her life and Carter (Elvis Nolasko) at great risk to get her fix. What are Aubry and Carter running from in Episode 5 of American Crime? Drug addiction isn’t the real culprit. We could say she’s an addict and Carter’s an enabler. But, that’s not enough. What are the forces that drive them so hard that neither can stop? It’s terror of loss - for both Aubry and Carter. Yet,...

Season 7, Episode 8, Severance, shows us just how much Don Draper needs therapy. With his traumatic history, analysis would be even better. He’s needed therapy for a long time. But, now, with Meagan gone and finally opening up about the secrets of his past – he’d be prime to get some help. If - he could. It was very common for people to seek psychoanalysis in the late 1960’s and 70’s, even Roger Sterling. Don Draper (Jon Hamm) – with his proclivity to turn to women and booze? It’s a pretty big If. Let’s say he did, though. Here’s how...

Living under someone else’s thumb is damaging to the spirit. There are different ways the parents in American Crime have tried to control their kids. In my office, I see the effects of the shoulds. The have tos. The chain of believing the only way to be loved is to please. To be what they want – and deep inside, hating it. Really hating it. But seeing no way out. Not being accepted for who you are is a devastating thing. It eats away inside. Subtle or not so subtle revolts set in. In the form of drugs, desperate actions, getting...

As secrets continue to unfold in Episode 3 of American Crime, drugs, sex, and complicated family histories are increasingly implicated in the crime against Matt and Gwen. Drugs and sex are not infrequently turned to as ‘answers’ to various kinds of desperate circumstances and pasts. Gwen turned to sex. Matt turned to drugs. Aubrey Taylor (Caitlin Gerard) turns to both. What kind of escape is she desperately clinging to?  What role does calling her foster dad serve?  Does she want his help or something else? “With this life sometimes bad things come your way. That’s when you get a little desperate,”...

SPOILER ALERT: You might not want to read this post until you’ve watched the entire series. It’s terribly difficult to write a comedy about something as traumatic as kidnapping, sexual exploitation, and brainwashing. Netflix’s The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (created by Tina Fey and Robert Carlock) tries to do just that. Does it work? Is there a message within the lighthearted bandying about of these serious topics? As a psychologist, I don’t see one. Kimmy’s (Ellie Kemper) story: kidnapped in eighth grade by a preacher who claimed to be saving her and 3 other women from the apocalypse. Held in an...

Racism is a symptom - a troubling and destructive one, to be sure. But, like any symptom, it has its personal roots. As a psychoanalyst, my work is to find the roots of any symptom brought into my office. And, with the multi-storied American Crime unfolding each week, the roots of Matt’s mother, Barb’s (Felicity Huffman) racism are starting to be exposed. What’s made her how she is? It’s not people of color that Barb hates or looks down upon – even though she treats them that way. What she hates is her own humiliation; circumstances that left her out of control....

"Women are strong as hell.” This opening credits statement to Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is more than feminism. It’s a reminder of something that isn’t always easy to keep in mind. That is - knowing you’re strong when you feel as though your world’s just come to a screeching halt. When women (or men) begin therapy with me in the throes of depression, it’s often impossible to believe their chance at life isn’t over. Staying optimistic? That’s even harder than finding some bit of strength to merely soldier on. I haven’t had a chance to watch Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt yet, but...