Clinician's Digest

Clinician's Digest

Couples Therapy Goes Public

By Chris Lyford

January/February 2020

There’s a nagging question that racks my brain after watching the first episode of Couples Therapy. Sure, it’s a little reductionist, but it’s one I can’t help but think a lot of other viewers—and probably more than a few therapists—must also have: Am I Team Mau, or Team Annie?

Consider the opening scene. Mau and his wife, Annie, sit on either side of a long couch in their therapist’s office, not touching. They’ve been married 23 years. Mau is tall and slender, with dark features and salt-and-pepper hair. He leans back nonchalantly as Annie, with her golden hoop earrings and navy blazer, relays the topic du jour: Mau’s botched birthday celebration, two years ago. Annie, apparently, hadn’t been attentive enough in the days leading up to it, despite promising Mau that big plans were in the works—costumes, a dominatrix, maybe a threesome. In a huff, Mau had grabbed his passport and flown off to Italy, alone.

Later in the session, he explains the root of his long-held disappointment in the matter, saying, “I want a glass of water before I ask [for one].” That sounds like a mother–infant bond, Annie scoffs. The therapist wades in. “That’s a pretty profound thing to say,” she tells Annie. “Really?” Mau asks incredulously. “Not fairly obvious? Distracting? Insignificant? What’s profound about that?” He gestures to the shelves around them. “I’m sure if you open up one of these books, it’s on the first fuckin’ page.”

Yikes. Okay, Team Annie it…

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