In "The Mother is In," The Millers manages to revert to 1950's style mistrust of therapists, and in doing so quickly takes what was once merely a terrible comedy into truly despicable territory.
The entire episode centers around Carol's smothering causing Nathan stress. Wow. Real original. We haven't seen a smothering mother around here OH WAIT THAT'S EVERY EPISODE carry on. Nathan's friend JB Smoove recommends that he go see a therapist, and because this show exists in a world where everyone is the worst version of anything they can possibly be, Nathan reacts to that suggestion with disgust. It's as if JB Smoove recommended that he go on a strict leech and brackwater diet. A therapist? Ewww. Nathan's considered it a matter of pride to go his entire life without seeing a therapist, because he's a terrible person who judges people based on whether they are successfully repressing their emotions or not. To talk to someone about his feelings is to admit defeat. To be weak (more weak than a single guy in his 40's living with his mother, anyway).
But eventually Nathan sees the therapist, and this show proves that the writers have never been to one before. Which coincidentally, says a lot about this show. In the writer's made-up world view, all therapists are hippie hacks who talk in SoCal accents and who force client's to "jam out" feelings instead of talk about them. I have to say, if there's one thing I know about therapists, it's that they are more concerned with forcing their preferred method of communication on their patients. It's not about how the patient feels comfortable, oh no sirree. It's all about marginalizing them, because a person simply won't discuss emotions unless they feel super uncomfortable in a situation. OH WAIT AGAIN, PRETTY SURE THAT'S THE OPPOSITE OF HOW THERAPY WORKS.
Miraculously, Nathan has an epiphany in therapy that prompts him to compliment his mom. I mean, he's only complimenting her so that he can eventually kick her out of the house, but no matter. It's totally acceptable to use kind deeds solely for selfish ends. It seems that Carol is familiar with that type of mindset, because Nathan's flattery make her instantly suspicious. Which in turn prompts the show to posit that every mother is as terrible as this one. Carol calls Nathan's OnStar service and finds another mother, who of course assists Carol in stalking Nathan's car records. They then bring in another mother to track his credit card. These women all agree to help Carol, because somehow being a mother makes this behavior understandable and not crazy. Because all mothers are like that! Get it?
Finally, in the most grotesque and unethical turn, Carol signs herself up for therapy so that she can snoop on Nathan. Because it's totally not illegal to see a doctors records OH WAIT A THIRD TIME YES IT IS. She tricks Dr. Hippie Face into leaving the room so she can snoop through his patient notebook. No doctor would permit that. Firstly, a therapist would never bring patient information into a room with another patient. Secondly, he would never leave a patient alone in a room with such sensitive materials. That's grounds for losing your license. The confidentiality laws for therapists are no joke, friends.
During the conclusion, because this show is unoriginal and awful, Carol and Nathan are allowed to reach a moment of closure. Nathan finds Carol in his therapists office, because sure, and they yell out their feelings. Part of that includes an unprompted harmonica solo by the therapist, since no therapist would ever do that so why not put it in the show? And in the most frustrating part, even though mother and son have reached some sort of breakthrough, The Millers feels the need to reiterate how silly and degrading therapists are. The second Dr. Hippie Face hints at Nathan returning, Carol pounces on him like a hyena. So, just to recap, even though the therapy session was helpful, the thought of having a son in therapy is so offensive to her soul that Carol would rather threaten the therapist than have Nathan return. Well. That happened.
-It's a bad sign when the show is so bad that I find the inane workplace scenes refreshing. The scenes of JB Smoove and Nathan talking at the newsroom made me wish The Millers was more about that, even with the offensive short jokes about Nathan's boss. At least boring and mildly offensive is better than eye-gougingly infuriating.
-Speaking of which, wow did Carol have a doozy of a dumb line tonight. The therapeutic breakthrough results in her congratulating Nathan on his "courage to end a marriage before it turned sour." I had to spend a minute blinking after that, because all I could see was red. Don't you just wish everyone in the world had that type of "courage?" You know, the kind of courage that means you don't have to experience any unpleasantness and that it's completely acceptable to bail before anything difficult happens. Because working towards improving things is just so darn hard, isn't it?