In the fourth season of “In Treatment,” Emmy winner Uzo Aduba takes over as the series’ therapist. This time, however, the doctor is also dealing with the global pandemic and social and cultural shifts.
A difficult job? “This is easily one of the hardest jobs I’ve ever had in my life,” says Aduba. ”It is also one of the most satisfying, fulfilling experiences I’ve ever had.”
Handling patients over Zoom, her Dr. Brooke Taylor has to create a level of trust that enables them to open up about a host of problems.
“It’s theatrical when you go to work,” Aduba says. “It’s that nervous feeling you’d feel in an episode or a scene … every single day.”
Adding to the tension: a quick shooting schedule. Executive Producer Jennifer Schuur says episodes were filmed in two days. “Most half-hour television shows get at least five, six, seven days to shoot their episodes. Uzo shows up on set every single day, knowing her lines somehow. It truly is a miracle.”
Aduba, meanwhile, interacted with a host of actors playing patients at a vulnerable place in life.
“You do feel like you just get the opportunity to sit in the front row to watch them just be impressive in a variety of ways,” she says. “It’s my favorite part because they do it with such fire. They kill it every time, period, point blank.”
In the first three seasons of “In Treatment,” Gabriel Byrne played the psychotherapist. When he questioned his own abilities, his Dr. Paul Weston sought help from his own therapist.
In the fourth season, Aduba’s Taylor struggles with issues in her own life.
In reimagining “In Treatment” for a fourth season, Schuur says she and the other producers wanted to honor the original American version but also update it for the times. “We have an opportunity to say some very important things about our particular time,” Schuur says. “We have racial justice movements and the #MeToo movement happening. We talk about toxic masculinity and addiction. We cover a lot of topics all set in the present day.”
Executive Producer Josh Allen thought a new take could show who gets access to therapy and how it can be de-stigmatized. “I come from a family of people who needed therapy and didn’t know they needed therapy. There’s such a stigma attached to it, especially in communities of color, so it felt important to put that on television.”
Simple set pieces – like a wave machine – appear in both iterations of “In Treatment.” “We are honoring the first three seasons and not trying to erase that at all,” Allen says. “We really wanted to make sure that people who loved, enjoyed and were moved by the first three seasons (felt) there’s some connective tissue here.”
The two therapists differ in several ways. Aduba’s Taylor “brings much more of herself into the room with her patients,” Schuur says. “Offering her own life experience and her feelings in a session actually creates more honesty with her patients and an ability for them to become more vulnerable and open with her.”
Even in the pandemic, Aduba says, “she shows up dressed, ready to be of service to them. I think that also extends as far as her opening them up to her own experiences to invite them to come closer to the things that they’re looking to confront.”
“In Treatment” airs on HBO and HBO Max.