Review: "The United States of Tara"

Reason to watch: You never know what -- or who -- will happen when Midwestern mom Tara's "alters" act out.

When/Where: Season 3 kicks off Monday at 10:30 on Showtime.

Toni Collette in 'United States of Tara'

John Corbett as Max and Toni Collette as

John Corbett as Max and Toni Collette as Tara in United States of Tara (Season 3, Episode 1) - Photo: Jordin Althaus/Showtime (Credit: Showtime/Jordin Althaus)

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As if the family of our multiple-personalitied heroine wasn't facing enough after last year's finale -- Tara and her sister learned, in the midst of hapless pregnant sister's non-wedding, about a half-brother who'd abused them -- here come more thrills.

Tara (Emmy winner Toni Collette) goes back to college, where years ago something unspeakable happened, and where now she'll take a psych class with a multiple-skeptical prof (Eddie Izzard). Husband Max (John Corbett) has a corporation horning in on his landscape business. Tara's almost-grown daughter (Brie Larson) is literally taking flight to find herself, while her gay teen son (Keir Gilchrist) makes movies with his main squeeze.

MY SAY For a show forever detonating bombs, it's surprising how sweet and frothy "Tara" feels. Just a half-hour long, it doesn't waste a second, pulling a gun within the first few and no punches ever.

This is mature stuff in more than language and sex. Tara might be a metaphor for the people you know -- never the same twice, even if they don't "transition" into a slut, a biker guy or the uber-creep emerging shortly. And creator Diablo Cody's writers deliver clever scripts without overwhelming these (truly) average people.

BOTTOM LINE Don't be scared of "Tara." You can jump right in and get the gist of just who Collette is -- uh, are.

GRADE A

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