Couples Therapy, now in its second season, but only just landed in the UK, has come along at a time when relationships have become more important – and more strained – than ever. And the format is so flawless, so engrossing, so healing, it seems almost fitting that no one had come up with it before. Because this stuff is the absolute tonic for a population frazzled by everything that’s been going on, at home, in the world, in our emotional lives. Here we can sit back, alongside whoever else we have with us, and meet others taking to a sofa to chat through the twists and turns of their journeys together.
Witness and expert guide to these travels through the changeable weather of modern marriage is Dr Orna Goralnik, together with the soothing presence (and occasional wink) of her dog, Nico. She is a pro, knowing just when to steer the wearied vituperations of her subjects towards common ground, or to a question which can help the individuals step back and notice things about their predicament, or observe the dynamics in a new light. Michal wants another baby, but Michael says they can’t afford one; she says this is because he doesn’t pull his weight, at which he chuckles, and she weeps. Tashira and Dru had a baby too soon for her, and two years in, wonder if the whole thing has gone too fast. Elaine and DeSean want to untangle the complex mess of their relationship, but just find it tricky to really listen to one another. We, meanwhile, are all ears.
This is rich material, for pretty much anyone with a remote control. The dialogue, the lighting and camerawork, even the music, is as good as anything since When Harry Met Sally. “At the two-minute mark I have no skin in the game, at the three-minute mark I’m shouting at the referee”, writes Joel Golby in the Guardian. “Is it normal to want to watch this? No. Is it amazing anyway? Oh, absolutely yes.” The Times’ Carol Midgley also wonders if she might be a “mouth-breathing, curtain-twitching voyeur… like ear-wigging on a couple’s row in a restaurant, except you don’t need to strain or pretend to drop a fork.” Anita Singh in the Telegraph is amazed “that people can be persuaded to bare all on television.” But glad that they have been. “However specific the issues here, there is something universal at their core.”
First shown January 2022.